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When is a Stew not a Stew?

Updated on August 27, 2010
Photo by Claudio Salvalaio
Photo by Claudio Salvalaio

In addition to the words 'stew' and 'casserole', many other names are given to dishes cooked by long slow methods, either on top of the stove or in the oven. Some of these names, strictly speaking, have fairly specific meanings, although in practice they are often used interchangeably.

Here is a brief description of the most important:

  • Blanquette: a white stew based on veal, lamb or chicken, simmered in an unthickened liquid which is enriched just before serving with a liaison of egg yolk and cream. In other words it is served in a sauce veloute.
  • Carbonnade: a stew of Flemish origin. The name is now applied to meat stewed in ale or beer.
  • Civet: this is the French name for what is usually a stew or casserole of rabbit, hare or other game in which the blood is added at the end of the cooking to enrich and thicken the sauce.
  • Daube: the name comes from the French daubiere, meaning a covered casserole. It can be applied to all kinds of meat, poultry and game, cut up or in a piece, cooked very slowly in a covered pot with wine and aromatic flavourings. These stews are often marinated first.
  • Estouffade: the name comes from the French etouffer, to smother or stifle. It is applied to meat cooked very slowly with a minimum, if any liquid, in a hermetically sealed pot.
  • Fricassee: strictly speaking, this is the correct word to use for any dish in which meat is first browned and then simmered. But nowadays the word usually refers to white meat (chicken, rabbit or veal) cooked in a saute pan.
  • Goulash: a stew of Hungarian origin characterized by the addition of paprika and often, just before serving, sour cream. It can be made from beef, pork, veal or chicken.
  • Haricot: according to modern linguists the word haricot is a corruption of the French halicoter, to cut up. It does not, therefore, necessarily mean a lamb or mutton stew with haricot beans—but, nevertheless, this is often what it turns out to be!
  • Navarin: a stew or casserole usually but not necessarily cooked by the fry-start method and specifically of lamb or mutton.
  • Ragout: a generic term applied to any type of stew or casserole of meat, poultry, game or fish.


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    • Catlyn profile image

      Catlyn 7 years ago from Somewhere in the OC

      Sounds like culinary school vocabulary. A very interesting hub for sure!