Is there anything more warm and wonderful than a winter beef stew? I wanted to make something that went beyond the run-of-the-mill British beef and potato stew and was thinking a little spice would do the trick. The unique heat of jerk sauce definitely helps me dream of warmer, tropical places!
I didn’t use to be a fan of soups and stews. They were something my family served when we were sick, not as a “usual” meal. Since I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen over the past few years, I tried giving soups and stews another chance. No matter how hard I tried, I was never that impressed with the flavor. Trying to cut down on sodium, I avoided using stocks and bouillon cubes, instead adding water to my recipes. Now I see (and taste) the errors of my ways!
Since I started using soup stock about a year ago, I finally “get it”. Soups and stews are now among my favorite winter recipes, rather than tasting “watered down” like my previous attempts! When I have the time, I make my own chicken stock after having a leftover carcass from roasting a whole chicken, or I’ll make a vegetable stock out of veggie scraps I collect in a zippered plastic bag in the fridge.
But what about those days where you just don’t have time to make your own stock? Look for a low sodium stock with ingredients that make sense to you. For example, Progresso Soup Stock‘s main ingredient is… gasp… chicken stock. I like when my food is what it claims to be! It’s made using real bones and no artificial flavors. I always have a few boxes of unsalted chicken stock or broth in my cupboard for soups and stews and to add flavor to whole grains. This recipe for stew served over brown rice lets you enjoy the flavor of soup stock both ways!
One of the many great things about stews is you can use lean cuts of meat that are cheaper, healthier and end up turning super-tender. Choose chuck, roast or rump for your best bets. Why do these tougher meats end up working so well in stews? They are rich in collagen, a type of protein found in muscle, skin, tendons and bones. The collagen breaks down over time as you cook resulting in melt in your mouth goodness!
Nutrition-wise, collagen may help your skin and hair look healthier, and can improve joint health and osteoarthritis. There is emerging evidence that collagen may help heal “leaky gut syndrome”, preventing bacteria and other invaders from moving through the walls of your digestive tract.
Chicken stock contains another type of protein called gelatin. Gelatin supports healthy digestion and may help lower inflammation, a common culprit in chronic diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
All the more reason to love soups and stews this winter!
Disclosure: By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Progresso and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.