Stewing - Vintage Cooking Process
Stewing is generally defined as a gradual process of simmering in a small quantity of liquor.
Stewing is cooking in a small amount of hot water for a long time at low temperature; it is the most economical way of cooking meats, as all nutriment is retained, and the ordinary way of cooking cheaper cuts. Thus fibre and connective tissues are softened, and the whole is made tender and palatable.
From the point of economy, this form of cooking should be best understood because it is the least expensive and most nourishing way of cooking. The advantage which stewing can claim over boiling or simmering is that the more nourishing and soluble elements are not separated from, but served up with the meat, the full flavor of which is thereby better preserved.
Stewing is one of the most economical methods of cooking meat, because the coarser and cheaper parts of meat, which cannot well be used for roasting or boiling, can be slow continuous stewing, be made tender, palatable and nutritious.
The meat selected for stewing should be lean, or but with little fat. Stewing entails less loss; all the juices coming out of the meat, amalgamate with the gravy or sauce which is served with the meat. Very little fuel and attention are needed to cook a stew after it has started cooking.
The heat must be slow and gradual -- never reaching the actual boiling point -- and the soup must be removed occasionally. Some meats and fruits and certain vegetables are usually subjected to stewing. Only enough liquid is used to cover the meat to prevent evaporation. Tough meat unsuitable either for roasting or boiling, can be made tender and palatable by stewing.
There is practically no waste in nutriment, for solids and liquids are both served up. Little fuel and little attention are required. There are two ways of stewing known and practiced: The first is partly frying or browning the meat before stewing and the second is parboiling.
Table Talk: The American Authority upon Culinary Topics and Fashions of the Table, Vol. XXVII, 1912, A Series of Articles Published Throughout the Year. Published Monthly by The Arthur H. Crist Co., Cooperstown, NY. A Monthly Magazine Devoted to the Interests of American Housewives, Having special reference to the Improvement of the Table. Marion Harris Neil, Editor.
Fannie Merritt Farmer, The Boston Cooking-school Cook Book, Revised Edition, Boston: Little, Brown, and Company (1912), p. 19