Browning the meat is the foundation of a good stew, but it can be time-consuming, requiring the meat to be cooked in several batches, or messy, leaving you with an oil-spattered stove. In our technique of sweating the meat, the juices and fat render with the pan covered. Then, after the pan is uncovered, the meat browns in one batch, its juices evaporating and caramelizing. This neat, easy process lends deep flavor to the finished stew. Here's how:
- Place meat in a heavy-bottomed 5- to 6-quart pan. Add 1/2 cup water; cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer briskly over medium heat until meat is gray on the outside and has rendered juices and fat, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Uncover pan, increase heat to high, and stir often until most of the liquid has evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-high and stir often until meat juices have caramelized and darkened and meat has browned in the rendered fat, about 5 minutes longer. If drippings and the brown film on pan begin to scorch, reduce heat to medium.