A great advantage of serving stews at buffet parties is that your guests don't have to grow extra arms to eat their meals. The pieces of meat in stews are bite-size, so a fork is all that's needed. I suggest serving stews in shallow bowls because gravy dripping down their legs is not a memory you want your guests to take away from the evening.
A Cache from the Cow
The beef stews are both cosmopolitan and cozy. Some are perfect for parties, and others are favorites families in countries around the world have loved for generations.
One key to the success of beef stews is browning the meat. The browning adds a distinctive flavor to the finished dishes and makes the beef more visually appealing.
One little piggy might have gone to market, but lots of little and big piggies end up in my slow cooker as stews each year, especially now that “the other white meat” has shed its bad rap as being fatty.
One time-saver of pork stews is that it's not really necessary to brown the meat. Browning really doesn't add the same depth of flavor to pork as it does to beef or lamb, and the pork will absorb the color of the sauce so it's visually pleasing.
Veal, a young calf, is one of the most tender and delicate of all meats. More veal is eaten per capita in Italy than any other country, which is why you see so many dishes with vitello on Italian menus. But veal is “segmenting,” to use marketing jargon; you either love it or hate it. The recipes in this chapter can all be done with chicken or pork, too.
It's only been in the past few decades that great lamb has been widely available in our supermarkets, and I think the best comes from Australia and New Zealand. There's a richness to lamb that infuses every bite of lamb stews. But for some people, lamb is an acquired taste they have yet to acquire. If you're one of them, don't fret. Beef can be substituted for lamb in any of the recipes.