A lot of people consider stew as a cold weather dish, something substantial and eaten steaming hot to warm the body but, for me, a stew doesn’t require cold weather at all. I cook stew whenever I get the craving and, the thicker the sauce and the more colorful the assortment of vegetables, the better. And I always cook more than enough for one meal because stew always tastes better after sitting in the fridge overnight or longer. The vegetables and meat get more time to absorb the flavors in the sauce so that, after reheating, the stew is richer and bolder.
So, I much prefer reheated stew. But reheating stew can be tricky. The sauce can dry out and cause scorching so the reheating process has to be over low fire. Adding water, broth or wine is not that great an option for me because the addition either dilutes or changes the rich flavors that have painstakingly developed while the stew sat in the fridge overnight. But the low fire and the rather lengthy reheating time can damage the vegetables too. They can get overcooked and turn soggy and, worse, they can break apart especially since the stew needs occasional stirring as it reheats.
How to I prevent dried out sauce, scorching and overcooked vegetables in a stew?
The slow cooker — the crock pot, as most prefer to call it, although Crockpot is a brand rather than the generic term for slow cookers. I have a slow cooker, a gift from Speedy, but it isn’t a Crockpot and it’s such a marvellous convenience for me.
Why is a slow cooker an ideal tool for reheating stews? Because the heat is always low and the moisture loss in virtually zero. The food barely simmers, very little steam is created, and that makes a world of difference when you’re trying to make sure that that sauce will stay thick without scorching the bottom of the cooking pot. And no stirring is required at all because the heat is evenly distributed so that top, middle and bottom heat up uniformly at the same time. So, there is no need to add liquid, there is no danger of overcooking the vegetables and there is no risk that the veggies will break apart from the stirring because stirring is superfluous.
To reheat my stew, I dump it into the slow cooker vessel and turn the cooker to high. I leave it for 30 to 40 minutes depending on the volume of the stew I’m reheating.
And the stew in the photo? Oh, that’s dinuguan, the iconic Filipino pork blood stew. I cooked it last night, we had some for dinner, I stored the rest in the fridge in a tightly covered container, and then I reheated it for lunch today. Because it’s summer and mango season in the Philippines, we ended our delicious dinuguan and rice lunch with slices of sweet ripe mangoes.