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Raw start stewing is a stewing method which involves starting the stewing process with raw ingredients, rather than ingredients which have been sauteed or fried. This stewing method focuses attention on the natural flavors of the ingredients, and it tends to create a less complex flavor than a stew made with sauteed ingredients. Some recipes specifically call for raw start stewing, and other cooks like experimenting with this technique when they are working with naturally flavorful ingredients.
In conventional stewing, the stew ingredients are usually briefly browned in some form of fat. The browning sets off a complex serious of chemical reactions known collectively as the Maillard Reaction which cause rich flavor to develop. Meats especially benefit from browning, but vegetables may be browned as well. Browning can also be accomplished in the oven, by roasting vegetables and meats briefly at high temperature before starting the stewing process.
In raw start stewing, this stage is skipped. The lack of the Maillard Reaction causes the end product to have a very distinctive flavor, which lacks the caramelized notes of stews made with browned ingredients. The natural flavors tend to come through more clearly, with some cooks concentrating on limited ingredients in raw start stewing to ensure that the flavors do not become muddy. Stews made in this way tend to have a lighter, clearer flavor.
One significant advantage to raw start stewing is that it saves time. Browning for traditional stews can take a long time when done properly, as the ingredients need to be fully browned on all sides and in batches to ensure that the pot isn't too crowded. In raw start stewing, the ingredients are simply tossed in the pot, covered in liquid, and allowed to cook. Raw start stews are also lower in fat, so they tend to be less greasy. For campers, raw start stewing can be appealing because it's easier to manage and faster than traditional stews.
Cooks can experiment with any flavors they like in raw start stewing. Meat is usually a critical ingredient, ideally a meat suitable for stewing like a chuck roast. Carrots, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, mushrooms, celery, and an assortment of other vegetables may be added, along with herbs or spices. Some cooks like to add extra helpings of vegetables in at the very end, so that diners get the flavor of stewed vegetables along with the texture of crisp lightly cooked vegetables.
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