Making stew without opening a store bought can

Have you ever had the pleasure of eating stew that was made without opening a single can bought from the store?  If you haven't, you definitely need to give it a shot.  Whether the ingredients come from a farmer's market or your own garden, making and eating stew from scratch is an awesome experience.

I don't know why it makes me feel so accomplished to make stew from scratch but for some reason it does... just ask my wife... I brag about it for days.  As most of you know, preparing something the old fashioned way is something I really enjoy doing.  Cooking from scratch not only makes you feel good about your skills but you know what is going into your stomach and it just tastes better.

To show you how easy it is to make stew from scratch, I took some pictures from when I made venison stew this fall.  What I really enjoyed about this stew was that I did not open a single can while making it and all of the ingredients came from my own hands.  The veggies I grew myself and the venison was from a deer I shot with my bow and processed by myself.

Garden veggies!

The first step in making stew without opening a can is to brown the meat.  To do this, add your meat to a stew-pot (cast-iron is the best) and start browning it on high heat.  As the meat is browning, some of the meat will stick to the pan leaving little bits of caramelized meat behind.  This is where your flavor will come from.

A cast iron pot is the best but I didn't have access to one the day I cooked this stew.

 Once the meat is brown, make sure all the stickies on the pan are loose and add a cup or two of water.  I usually start with one cup but depending on how thick you want your stew you could add one more.  Once you add the water, crank up the heat and bring the water to a boil.  

Who needs beef broth?  What is in those little cubes anyways!

While the water is coming to a boil, I added a couple handfuls of basil and oregano.  As many of you know, I love cooking with basil and oregano but other spices such as thyme, oregano, sage could be substituted if you prefer those.  Once the spice is added, cover the pan for a bit to let the flavors come together.

Adding basil and oregano from my garden.

Once the spice leaves cook down for a bit, the next thing I added was the sauce.  I blended up a red pepper and a few tomatoes for my sauce but you could use anything you could get your hands on.  If you are making this stew in the winter, you could throw in a homemade can of salsa or frozen pasta sauce from the garden.  You get the point....

Fresh tomato sauce.

Once the sauce was added, I chopped up some carrots and a few onions from my garden.  I added these two veggies before the others because the carrots take longer to cook than potatoes or green beans and cooked down onions helped enhance the stew's flavor.

Chopped up carrots and onions.

 After the carrots and onions cooked for about ten minutes, I added the potatoes and then the green beans.  Potatoes take a bit longer to cook than green beans so it is best to stagger adding them to make sure the veggies are crisp.

Potatoes and pole beans.

Once all the ingredients are in the pot, bring everything to a boil and then cook on low until the veggies/meat are done to your liking.  I like my veggies firm so I usually cook my stew for about an hour total.  I find this is a good amount of time to cook the stew so the veggies are the way I like them and the meat is pretty tender.

Doesn't that look good?

As you can see, making stew from scratch is as simple as opening up a store bought version.  Hopefully you will try this out the next time you feel like a good ole fashioned meal.  Once you cook stew this way, compare it to the recipe I added last year that uses more store bought ingredients and compare which one you like better.




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