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Old 10-10-2009, 08:25 AM   #1
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Brown Color in Stews

I would love for someone to explain how you get a rich brown color in stews, mine always come out gray. Sure Soy sauce does wonders but surely thats cheating.

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Old 10-10-2009, 08:43 AM   #2
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Do you brown your stew meat first?

I always brown my meat first in a little oil - not only does it add color but it adds so much flavor. Depending on how I'm making it sometimes I'll add beef broth or beef base which is dark brown or sometimes I'll add a little dark brown roux - again it depends on which type of "stew" I'm cooking.

If you give us your recipe maybe we can offer some suggestions on how to make it brown.
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Old 10-10-2009, 08:44 AM   #3
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The first answer is to cut your meat into chunks, lightly flour (I like to put a little seasonings in the flour), and brown them good and well before you start. The trick to this step is to not crowd the pan, you want them dark. Since you are making a stew, you don't care if the meat is cooked through since you're going to, well, stew it later. But this browning adds the color and flavor for later.

The other answer is roux. I'm not very good at making it myself, but you take butter and/or oil and when it is hot, add flour a bit at a time until it turns the color you want it to be, then whip in some water. I've found a brand of demi-glace that is a shortcut that I like, but it ain't cheap. You add this to your stew if it isn't the pretty color you want, et voila! You can even make a completely vegetarian stew have a pretty color!

Someone out there in DC land will give you better instructions on roux.
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Old 10-10-2009, 08:53 AM   #4
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Wow you guys are fast. Yeah I have made roux that worked well, for a Japanese Style Curry that I cook. Ill give the light flouring a go on the meat, its just no recipe that I have ever followed has ever made such a suggestion. I am a little concerned the flour turns things a little gluggy, but Ill try it and see for sure. Thanks
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Old 10-10-2009, 08:53 AM   #5
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roux is simply equal parts oil and flour, cooked slowly until it is the color you want. For a bechamel, you want one that is just barely colored, should look like wet sand, have a slightly nutty smell, blond. For other stuff, like a stew, cook it a bit longer until it is darker. Do not leave unattended, stir to avoid scorching, keep it on low.
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Old 10-10-2009, 08:54 AM   #6
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Oh if you want to see my disaster, this is what drove me to seek help.

It tasted great but looked horrible.
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Old 10-10-2009, 09:22 AM   #7
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You have to sear the meat first. Cut the meat in bite sized chunks, while heating a little oil in your pot (enough to cover bottom of pan) on high heat. You may dredge meat in seasoned flour or not...it's up to you. The flour helps thicken the stew later. When oil is hot, add meat and let it get dark brown (almost burnt) before turning. Once meat is well-browned (pot should be smoking), add liquids and scrape goodies up off the bottom.
You shouldn't need to add soy sauce.
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Old 10-10-2009, 10:07 AM   #8
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I use this;

Kitchen Bouquet
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Old 10-10-2009, 10:15 AM   #9
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Oh god no, I think I would go the Soy Sauce before the Sodium benzanoate and sulfating agents.
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Old 10-10-2009, 10:45 AM   #10
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I would need to see the recipe you are using. How are you cooking the stew? For a good dark color, red wine always helps...for the food as well :)
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Old 10-10-2009, 11:31 AM   #11
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Looks to me like your doing a curry type of dish. If so look the vahchef. If you watch some of his videos I am sure that you can work thru it. But I do think that you need to season your meat and sear it before making your gravy.
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Old 10-10-2009, 12:45 PM   #12
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another option, if available in your area -

"Gravy Master"

caramelized sugar
caramel color
water
hydrolyzed soy and corn protein
apple cider vinegar
salt & spices (onion, celery, parsley, garlic)
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Old 10-10-2009, 06:12 PM   #13
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Kitchen Bouquet was, for decades the method used by millions of home cooks to make their gravy look rich and tasty, but it adds no flavor, and isn't much more than a bunch of non-culinary chemicals. To add color AND flavor make a dark roux (oil and flour cooked over medium heat until is turns medium-dark brown BUT NOT BURNED.)

A roux will give you that rich flavor with nearly any protein (beef, pork, sea food) depending on what color stage you cook it to. Learning to make a roux is a truly useful skill that will help you in many ways besides brown gravy.
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Old 10-11-2009, 09:21 AM   #14
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Smile My beef stew

When I make my traditional beef stew I use a dry red wine in it and always brown the meat first in a skillet.
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Old 10-20-2009, 12:21 AM   #15
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One word: Bisto

It also thickens like cornstarch. But adds flavor and color. Also good for making thicker gravy's from pan drippings.

Find it at Amazon (sorry, can't post a link yet)
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Old 10-20-2009, 04:32 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thecurrypot View Post
Oh god no, I think I would go the Soy Sauce before the Sodium benzanoate and sulfating agents.

Well, I'm not sure what the selection is like down under, but here in the US, you have to shop pretty carefully to get a soy sauce without sodium benzoate in it. At least 80% of the ones in stores here contain it.
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Old 10-20-2009, 10:00 AM   #17
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As others have already stated, I think the problem is that you're not browning your meat first. Even chicken stews & braises I've made are darker than yours - because I brown the pieces first. This is a very important step that shouldn't be skipped. If properly browned first, there's no necessity for additional "browning additives".
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Old 10-20-2009, 11:09 AM   #18
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Browning the meat is the first and best way to get a brown sauce for your stew. You CAN dredge the meat in flour first, but you don't have to do that. Cubes of beef, or pieces of chicken will brown nicely in hot fat provided you have DRIED THEM OFF with paper towels first. If they are even damp when they hit the hot fat, they will sputter, spatter and steam. You don't want that.

I have never used Gravy Master, Kitchen Bouquet, soy sauce (ICK), a roux or whatever in my stews, and they are always "gorgeously" brown. I usually do add some red wine as all or part of the liquid, I admit.
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Old 10-20-2009, 01:20 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChefJune
If they are even damp when they hit the hot fat, they will sputter, spatter and steam. You don't want that.
Ya left out "Spit"
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Old 10-20-2009, 03:11 PM   #20
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Ya left out "Spit"
Yeah, they'll do that, too!
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