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Top tips for the perfect stew

Learn some easy tips on bubbling, comforting stews with some delicious recipes to boot.

16 May 2012
recipes beef stew

With winter approaching we find ourselves longing for good old hot steamy stews.

Whether it’s belly-warming South African bredies and potjiekos over the coals, rich and flavourful beef bourguignon and coq au vin, comforting Irish stew or melt-in-your-mouth osso bucco.

These bubbling pots of deliciousness fill our homes with aromas that conjure up all sorts of nostalgia and food memories.

Trick to a good stew:

Brown the meat for some extra flavour and to seal in moisture.

-  A mirepoix (combination of onion, carrot and celery) is a great flavour base to any stew.

-  If using wine or stock, make sure it is good quality.

Long and slow - Cook for a long period of time with gentle heat to allow tougher cuts of meat to soften and the flavours of the meat and vegetables to marry together.

Classic South African stews:

Bredies  - Afrikaans word for stew. Slow-cooked lamb or mutton with vegetables like waterblommetjies, greenbeans, tomato, pumpkin or cabbage.

Potjiekos – Food is cooked over coals in a 3 legged cast iron pot. Meat(oxtail, lamb or even chicken) and vegetables are often layered and cooked in a small amount of liquid. Ingredients are left to simmer slowly without stirring.

Some classic stews from around the world:


Boeuff Bourguignon -beef braised in red wine, traditionally red Burgundy, and beef broth, generally flavoured with garlic, onions and a bouquet garni, with pearl onions and mushrooms added towards the end of cooking.

Bouillabaisse – Provencal fish stew made with shell fish, fresh fish

Cassoulet -Rich, slow-cooked casserole originating in the south of France. Contains meat (typically pork sausages, pork, goose duck and sometimes mutton) and white haricot beans.

Ratatouille - Provencal stewed vegetable dish.

Coq au vin – braised chicken slow cooked in red wine, bacon lardons, pearl onions and mushrooms.


Goulash –Typically, slow cooked beef with tomatoes, red pepper and potatoes and finished off with sour cream.


Irish stew – traditionally a lamb and potato stew but leeks, carrots and cabbage can also be added.


Gumbo - A thick stew consisting of seafood and/or meat with tomatoes and peppers.


Lancashire hotpot - a dish made traditionally from almb and mutton  and onion, topped with sliced potatoes, left to bake in the oven all day in a heavy pot and on a low heat.

Tex-Mex: (combination of Texan and Mexican)

Chilli con carne - Traditional versions are made using chilli peppers, garlic, onions, and cumin, along with chopped or ground beef. Beans and tomatoes are frequently included. Served with nachos, tortillas, cheese and guacamole.


Tagine/Tajine - Moroccan tagines combine lamb or chicken with a variety of ingredients or seasonings. Renowned for the use of fruits such as quinces, apricots, raisins, dates, nuts, with fresh or preserved lemons. Ground cinnamon, saffron, ginger, cumin, paprika as well as a spice blend 'ras el hanout' are used often. A Tagine is cooked slowly in special tagine pot to circulate the steam for even cooking, resulting in tender meat. Traditionally served with couscous.


Osso bucco - a Milanese dish of cross-cut veal shanks braised with vegetables, white wine and broth. Often garnished with gremolata and traditionally served with risotto.

Chicken Cacciatore - to a meal prepared “hunter-style” with tomatoes, onions, herbs, often bell pepper and sometimes wine.  Cacciatore is popularly made with braised chicken or rabbit. 


- Carey Boucher-Erasmus



Pickled fish samoosas

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