Most traditional stews throughout the world have one thing in common. They were cooked until most of the vegetables were very soft, often disintegrating into the stew. The meat was also cooked right along with the vegetables, until it was very soft, and easy to chew. However, in more modern stews, the vegetables are usually cooked separately, so they remain in distinct pieces, and the vegetables are added to the meat only a few minutes before serving. This is considered to look better, and to preserve more of the nutrients in the vegetables. But our ancestors cooked everything together, and were fine with the vegetables disintegrating into the stew.
I made a couple of traditional stews this winter, and really enjoyed them on the cold, rainy days we have been having. They tasted wonderful, and warmed and renewed me, in a way that no modern stew ever did. I felt better while I ate them, and after I ate them.
Why the difference?
After some thought, I realized that the traditional stew, with its long-cooked ingredients melting into each other, is much easier to eat, and to digest. Since it is easier to eat and digest, that means that the nutrients in the stew are more easily absorbed and processed by our bodies. The long, slow cooking breaks down the components of the vegetables and meat, making them softer, often causing some of the vegetables to disintegrate into the gravy, with their precious nutrients. When the stew is eaten, the nutrients are right in the gravy, all broken down into a much more easily absorbed form.
It is true that cooking may reduce the amount of vitamin content in some vegetables, but vegetables are hard to digest and many people have trouble absorbing the nutrients. Cooking them in a traditional stew makes the remaining nutrients very easy to absorb, so you end up getting more nutrition.
This idea is supported by the tradition, in many lands, and throughout Europe, of feeding stews and broths to people who were recovering from sickness or physical injury. These kinds of foods were considered vital for recovery, because our ancestors knew, through knowledge passed down for thousands of years, that stews and broths helped people recover.
I usually add cabbage and onions to my stews, and they almost totally disintegrate into the stew by the time the cooking is over. The flavor they add is beyond wonderful. The other vegetables are very soft, partially disintegrated into the stew, and taste so good, flavored by all the ingredients.
I am sticking to traditional stews, every time.
Most Americans think of corned beef and cabbage when it comes to a traditional Irish meal on St. Patrick’s Day. In Ireland itself, the selection is much more varied, including steak, prime rib roast, stew, or a pot roast made from fresh meat.
One of the glories of Irish cuisine is the magnificent quality of the native ingredients. Most of the beef raised in Ireland is still grassfed and grass-finished, and raised on small farms.
This recipe depends on the quality of the ingredients, and the better the ingredients, the better the dish.
The new beef brisket point introduced by U.S. Wellness Meats is perfect for this recipe. It has the deep beefy flavor of grassfed beef, and a nice fat cap that is needed for this recipe. It is important that all the other ingredients be of high quality as well, meaning organic (or the equivalent) vegetables and herbs, Guinness® stout from Ireland itself, and rich, deeply flavored grassfed beef broth. And it does have a bit of green in it, in the form of green onions and thyme.
This recipe is absolutely delicious and the meat is very tender and flavorful. Here’s the link to the recipe which is posted on the U.S. Wellness Meats blog: