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How to Cook, Store and Reheat Stew

Created January 11, 2017
Stew, tagine, goulash, ajiaco—cuisines around the world revere these slow-cooked dishes of meat, poultry, fish, vegetables and spices. Serve with crusty bread and you’ve got a complete meal.

Simmering Stew

Made on top of the stove, in the oven or by slow cooker, stews are hearty and satisfying. The long simmering time over low heat helps develop stew’s full, rich flavor.

  • When thickening stew with a flour mixture, prevent lumps by beating flour thoroughly in a little cold water with a wire whisk before adding it to the hot mixture.
  • To avoid a starchy, undercooked taste and uneven consistency, heat the thickened liquid to boiling, and boil for the time specified in the recipe.
  • To remove fat easily, refrigerate stew for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Fat will rise to the surface and solidify. Skim off fat and discard.
  • Instead of thickening a stew with a roux (fat and flour mixture), stir dry potato flakes into the mixture. Or, puree one or more cooked vegetables used in the stew with a bit of broth and add to the stew.

Storing & Reheating Stews

Stew is an ideal make-ahead dish. Follow these guidelines to keep stew fresh and ready for reheating:
  • Cover tightly when completely cool and refrigerate up to 3 days.
  • Stew made with fish or shellfish should be refrigerated for no more than 1 day.
  • Thaw in refrigerator if frozen and use promptly.
  • The flavor of green bell pepper intensifies and that of onions fades with time, so you may need to adjust your seasonings to taste during reheating.
  • Stews can be reheated on the stovetop or in the microwave (follow manufacturer’s instructions).

Freezing Stew

Stews freeze well, so you may want to double the recipe and freeze some for later. Here are some helpful guidelines:
  • Store stew in heavy plastic, airtight containers, leaving ¼- to ½- inch of space to allow for expansion in the freezer.
  • Stew can be kept frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Stews thickened with flour or cornstarch may separate after freezing. If you plan to freeze a stew, wait to thicken it until you reheat it.
  • Freezing makes potatoes soft and grainy. Instead, add cooked potatoes when reheating.