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How to

How to make old cow meat stew

What does stew mean?

The dictionary translates meat stew as: “Meat food cut into small pieces, seasoned in various ways, browned a little and then covered with water or broth, cooked for a long time in a deep, well-closed pan over a low heat. ”

The definition lends itself perfectly to capturing small nuances that transform a simple dish or, better said, a specific procedure, into something that exudes memories and emotions, which awakens the childish nature that lies - sometimes - blissfully in our hearts.

The stew is made with meat cooked for a long time on a gentle heat, some spices added, perhaps some good red wine and off you go, that's it.

There are precise techniques and tricks of the trade to create a dish that is beautiful to look at and superlative to taste. The first element is to choose the right meat which, where preference prevails over the old cow, is the simplest of bon sci bon sci bo bo bon.

How stew is born

The history of this dish has a highly nostalgic note. In fact, once upon a time, when life was purely rural, it was necessary to use transversal methods to put a hot dish on the table and at the same time avoid consuming raw materials necessary for heating the rooms.

This is why it was customary to place a pot with water - or broth - and meat on the stoves and leave it there to cook, slowly and continuously. Stew was born exactly like this: a large pot placed on the wood or coal stove to cook, heat and offer a hot meal.

Sometimes, when "richness" allows it, other elements are added to the broth, such as a little red wine or vegetables - first fried just enough to increase the flavour.

What do you put in the stew?

The stew can be prepared with different elements and ingredients combined and not with each other:

  • Red and white meat , if you choose something particular like vaca vieja it is better to avoid combined ones, otherwise you can use rabbit, chicken, goose, roe deer and game in general.
  • The choice of fish becomes a little more complex since familiarity with the stove must be of an excellent level: eel and grouper, tench and carp are the most commonly used types.
  • Vegetables become of vital importance which, in addition to the side dish, enriches the dish, legumes such as beans, lentils, chickpeas and peas are usually preferred, used in combination with potatoes, courgettes, carrots and cabbages.

Old cow stew

The choice of raw materials is the first essential element to consider when creating masterpiece dishes.

Meat is fundamental and to make the dish even tastier and tastier you need to use fine cuts or ones obtained from specific breeds or types of cattle.

The vaca vieja or old cow is a special trick capable of rendering an intense flavor of meat thanks to its particular nature.

In fact, the meat comes from cows that reach 10 years of age and, thanks to their use as broodmares, they have developed a higher protein requirement and consequently feed more on alfalfa and clover.

This last factor becomes essential both in respect of free grazing and in the transformation into meat of cuts rich in nutritional values ​​and excellent for various dishes. The other elements that contribute to the creation of quality meat are the maturation, the low availability of the product given the long preparation and the desire to translate it into a "slow" dish that fully reflects the mood of the cut.

How to make the perfect stew

The characteristics that come to mind when thinking about stew are: robustness, flavour, aroma, intense colour, perhaps with a delicious and warm side dish such as mashed potatoes.

To make the dish as best as possible, you need to follow the slow pace that this particular dish requires. Saucepan, low heat, meat broth, seasonal vegetables, well-selected traceable meat.

Cuts of meat for stew and pot indicated

The cuts of meat to use for a perfect stew are those capable of providing a more intense flavour, with a good percentage of connective tissue which, favored by long cooking, will become gelatinous and rich in flavour. Shoulder, muscle, priest's hat, white steak, real and flake are the most suitable solutions for beef.

For the pan you need to use a saucepan, if the choice is to revive the nostalgic and romantic mood, preferably cast iron which, in addition to maintaining the heat perfectly, also allows you to guarantee uniform cooking.

A lid with perfect fit to avoid heat and steam dispersion.

What to do first

The meat must be at room temperature before being cooked. The cut is preferable coarse and rather large so as to prevent it from falling apart. Preventive browning over a high flame is essential to create the Maillard reaction and the consequent caramelization with the preservation of the juices.

Proceed with browning a little at a time, so as to allow the butter - previously melted - to meet every single part of the piece of meat. The flour issue is one of the doubts that most afflict many people, some choose to do it before browning, others after. You need to try.

Seasoned and tasty stew

The aromatic herbs that are best suited to long cooking are thyme, rosemary, sage and bay leaves.

You need to add a little at a time to avoid creating a jumble of scents.

Fresh herbs such as chives and cilantro can be added at the end of cooking, just before portioning and serving.

Spices, on the other hand, should be used extremely sparingly although the dish loudly welcomes intense aromas and flavors such as cinnamon and star anise. If you want to add a strong touch, cumin and coriander become perfect elements.

Stew and tasty combinations

Taking inspiration from the recipes of great chefs and conservative grandmothers, you can create your own personal version of the dish. Among the ideas in terms of combinations there are:

  • Pork and apples, juniper and onions
  • Vaca vieja meat with rosemary and olives
  • Fish with fennel, chili pepper and saffron
  • Legumes with fresh herbs such as mint, basil and parsley
  • Game with cumin, coriander and fresh apricots

Trying is believing, but to excel you need to keep in mind rule no. 1: the ingredients must be top quality, for the meat just rely on our online butcher's shop which also offers mixes of spices perfectly calibrated and excellent for different uses.