Posted: 20 May 2015

How to cook the ultimate stew

Grub Food VanIs there anything better than a hearty hot stew on a cold day?

The team at Fitzroy’s Grub Food Van know their way around a wholesome stew. Chefs Damien Wearne (Seven Seeds) and Steve Giblett (The European) have based their whole winter menu around warming, abundant food made for mopping up and slurping down by the Grubb fire on cold winter nights.

These are five of Damien and Steve’s favourite stews. Just reading the ingredients makes you feel more nourished, so give them a crack at home. Or even better… try the new dinner menu in the cosy Grubb greenhouse (above and right). It’s delicious.


1kg organic chicken thighs, skin off, diced
1 large brown onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 red chilli (add more to make more spicy) finely chopped
Small pinch saffron
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp  sweet paprika
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp mustard powder
½ tsp all spice
½ tsp celery seed
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole star anise
1 cup white wine
1 cup water
50ml olive oil
200g wild rice
125g natural yoghurt
100g golden raisins
100g almond flakes

In a heavy based pot, heat the olive oil. When hot, add the onion, garlic and chilli. Sauté for 3-4 minutes until fragrant. Add the diced chicken, stirring until sealed.
In a separate pan, gently heat all the spices until they are smelling great, then pour into the pot with the chicken and veg.  Stir for one minute coating the chicken then add your wine, simmer for a few minutes then add water to cover the ingredients. Simmer until the chicken falls apart, and season with salt and pepper.
Cook the wild rice according to the directions on the packet. Once cooked serve the rice warm with a generous serve of the chicken stew, garnish with yoghurt, golden raisins and almonds flakes.


1kg venison leg or shoulder, diced into 3cm cubes
2 large brown onions, diced
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 stick celery, diced
1 large carrot, diced
250g sweet potato, diced to 1cm cubes
4 juniper berries
2 bay leaves
150ml red wine (something heavy)
2 cups beef stock (great if homemade but supermarket stuff will do)
1 heaped tbs of tomato paste
1 tin chopped tomatoes (over ripe fresh tomatoes would be good too)

Half a loaf of stale bread, chopped up crusts off
1 small onion finely diced
½  cup hot milk
Small handful of chopped parsley
¼ cup plain flour
Pinch nutmeg
Zest of 1 lemon
1 egg
salt and pepper

Heat a pan with oil, brown off the cubes of venison, put into a big pot and brown. Set aside. Without cleaning the pan, put your chopped vegetables in and sauté for a few minutes. If they don’t all fit, do it in a 2 or 3 batches. Set aside. Using the same pan, add tomato paste, stirring for 2-3 minutes, then pour in wine and bring to boil, reducing by half. Add tomatoes and bring to the boil again. Then add meat and veg, bay leaves, juniper berries and beef stock. Simmer the stew for 2-3 hours, stirring sometimes. Once the meat has become tender its ready. Season with salt pepper and sugar.
For the dumplings, sauté the onion. add to the bread, pour hot milk over the top and rest until cool enough to touch. Add all other ingredients and mix together, season with salt and pepper, roll into desired sized dumplings (about a a golf ball size works well). Cook the dumplings in salted boiling water or in the stew itself, serve the stew with 2 or 3 dumplings per bowl.


5 curry leaves
1 tsp black mustard seeds
5 tbsp peanut oil
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
4 cm piece grated ginger
1 medium red onion, finely diced
½ tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
5 large tomatoes – peeled & diced
100g spring onions
125g green beans (cut into bite-sized lengths)
100 ml vegetable or fish stock
700g firm fish fillets, prawns, mussels, scallops, crab meat
500ml coconut milk
Handful of coriander, basil or parsley roughly torn for garnish

Add the oil to the pan and add curry leaves, mustards seeds, fenugreek seeds and ginger and cook for 3 mins. Add the onion and cook until soft. The add the chilli, coriander and turmeric and fry for a further 2 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 5 mins. Then add the stock and cook gently for 15 mins.  Add the fish, beans and spring onions and simmer for 5 mins over a low heat.  Stir through the coconut milk and reduce the heat. Serve with rice.


½kg cubed pork
½kg cubed veal
2 large brown onions, diced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled & sliced into bite-sized rounds
2 medium parsnip, peeled & sliced into bite-sized rounds
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
6 tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 large tablespoon tomato paste
300 g sauerkraut
I lt water or meat stock
1 tbs sugar
1 tbs Hungarian  sweet paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground nutmeg
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 tbs caraway seeds
Sour cream and handful of parsley to garnish

Lightly brown all the meat and set aside. Brown the garlic and onions, finishing off with a tablespoon of sugar. Add all spices and root vegetables and sauté lightly for a few minutes. Add browned meat and then slowly add water or stock. Let simmer for at least 1 hour, then add tomatoes and tomato paste. Continue to cook for another 20 mins. Add sauerkraut and caraway seeds, heat and simmer and then check spices and flavour to taste.


5 tbs olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tbs ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp salt
3 tsp harissa
400g chopped tomatoes
Zest & juice of 1 lemon
Zest & juice of 1 orange
1 cup coriander leaves
500g butternut pumpkin – cut into 5cm pieces
1 sweet potato – cut into 5cm pieces
3 carrots – cut into 5cm pieces
2 zucchini – cut into 5cm pieces
Handful okra
1 cup dried apricots
100 g raisins
500g chickpeas (fresh – soaked overnight and cooked / or canned)
Handful of parsley roughly torn for garnish

In a heavy based saucepan, heat the oil and cook the onion until soft and golden. Add the garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric and salt. Then add the tomatoes, coriander, harrisa paste, apricots, citrus juices and zest. Simmer gently for 5 mins. Add the vegetables, stir well. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook gently for about an hour. Add the (cooked or tinned) chickpeas and cook for a further 5 mins.

Find the Grub Food Van at 87-89 Moor St, Fitzroy.

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