Winter Stew Recipe:
Beef, Pork, Elk, Lamb or Venison with Vegetables

For a memorable pot of stove-top or oven-baked stew, this is your recipe. It is a much-tested concept recipe that 'just works', whatever the choices for meat and vegetables. It's also a rare stew recipe that tastes good straight out of the pot (no melding required) and needs just an hour of cooking, either on the stove or in the oven.

Winter Stew, here with elk, butternut squash, sherry and dried apricots.

Once upon a time, I was a bad cook. With the arrogance of inexperience, I believed that instinct should guide my hands to add the right bits of this and the perfect spots of that. But nothing turned out and for good reason, I lost all confidence.

A wise cook nudged gently. “Just at first,” she counseled, “follow a recipe. Then switch it around.” Her advice worked and sure enough, slowly but surely, I learned to cook.

Still, even after all these years, there’s a special spot in my recipe box for ‘teaching’ recipes that are more launching pad than destination, more guideline than prescription, ones where concept trumps inexperience.

Enter Winter Stew, a concept recipe of high confidence, beef stew one week, the tastiest venison stew the next, chicken and then lamb. Last winter I recruited recipe testers to experiment with its endless variations, playing with different combinations of meat, vegetables, herbs, cooking liquids and sweeteners. Each reported excellent results, concluding, “Great stew recipe.” The last note read, “Writing about stew made me hungry! New batch simmering on the stove!” That, good cooks, is a recommendation.

ALANNA's TIPS For vegetables, my recipe testers and I tried cubes of butternut squash (my favorite), chunks of carrot, wedges of cabbage, hunks of potato, a bottle of pearl onions, a pound of sautéed mushrooms, frozen black-eyed peas, a can of diced tomatoes, slices of roasted pepper. Be creative, they're all good!
Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Become a Kitchen Parade fan on Facebook!


Cook with confidence, no recipe required
Hands-on time: 25 minutes
Time to table: 90 minutes
Makes 4 cups
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion or large shallot, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dry)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dry)
  • 1 pound meat, beef, pork, lamb, chicken thighs (not breasts, too dry), elk or venison, cut in bite-size pieces
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup Marsala wine (or dry sherry, red or white wine, or fruit juice)
  • 1 pound vegetables (see TIPS)
  • 1/4 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes or dried apricots, golden raisins
  • 1 – 2 cups broth or water (just enough to cover)

Heat oil on medium in a Dutch oven. Add onion, garlic and herbs; cook til onions begin to brown. Add meat and let brown, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes; midway, sprinkle with flour and salt, stir in and continue cooking. Add remaining ingredients. Complete cooking on the stove-top, in the oven or in a tagine.

STOVE-TOP Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a slow simmer. Cover and cook for an hour or until meat and vegetables are cooked. Serve over noodles, brown rice, wild rice, mashed potatoes or hominy.

OVEN Cook in a 350F oven for an hour. A thick gravy will form.

TAGINE (as pictured) Cook in a 350F oven for an hour. The cooking liquid will remain quite liquid but once out of the oven, could be thickened on the stove if desired.

ROUGH NUTRITION ESTIMATE (varies with ingredients, of course, but a good estimate) Per Cup: 315 Calories; 30g Protein; 6g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 27g Carb; 4g Fiber; 717mg Sodium; 96mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 6 points

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I am a new cook and so I love the idea of a concept recipe. This stew looks so warm and hearty...the perfect meal for a cold evening.
Joanne, Lovely! Thanks for taking the time to let me know. So many 'teaching' recipes seem to be so simplified that experienced cooks are disinterested. This one, I think, is simple but nuanced at the same time.
Nothing better than a warming stew at this time of year. I've not cooked many yet, myself, but will probably find time to do so soon. Perhaps a tagine, to make use of my Christmas present!
I love concept recipes. One of my favorite cookbooks is How to Cook Without a Book by Pamela Anderson and I really enjoy the "Cooking without Recipes" feature in Fine Cooking magazine. And your concept recipes, of course! This one sounds like a winner.

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna