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Real Stew: 300 Recipes for Authentic Home-Cooked Cassoulet, Gumbo, Chili, Curry, Minestrone, Bouillabaise, Stroganoff, Goulash, Chowder, and Much More (Non) Paperback – September 5, 2002

4.2 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The global scope of stews and other long-simmered, richly warming dishes is vast. Clifford Wright's Real Stew offers 300 recipes for this delicious fare--everything from basic Irish stew through stroganoff, bouillabaisse, gumbo, feijoada, and much more. What makes Wright's dishes--and cookbook--different from similar efforts (besides its "all-under-one-roof" commitment) is his insistence on authenticity. Readers will find, for example, a recipe for the famous French Daube Provençale that calls for salt pork in addition to slab bacon, plus beef or veal foot, among other ingredients. Wright's devotion to the real thing will excite most readers, and while it may discourage others, all will find the recipes clear and easy to follow. The results of Wright's devotion to formulas in every way justify the kitchen (and shopping) duty required.

The recipe selection is definitive. The section on lamb stews, for example, contains over 50 mouthwatering recipes, from the paprika-hot Classic Lamb Stew of Andalusia; piquant Abruzzi Lamb Stew with Egg and Lemon Custard; and Sweetly Saffroned Lamb, Onion, and Golden Raisin Stew of the Jews of Morocco; to Indian Rogan Josh and Martinique-Style Mutton Curry, among others. Other sections, like those on seafood stews and vegetable stews, are equally comprehensive--and enticing. Wright also provides inviting background material, and sidebars such as "What's a Cardoon?" and "Cuisine of the Poor," which details the birth of many stew-type dishes. With notes on equipment and a comprehensive list of ingredient sources, the book is full of worthwhile information as well as wonderful cooking. --Arthur Boehm

From Publishers Weekly

Wright, James Beard Award winner for Mediterranean Feast, could have subtitled this collection of recipes for one-pot meals from around the world "Comfort Foods of Many Nations." The usual international suspects are here, from Feijoada to Bouillabaisse, but with his trademark intellectual curiosity, Wright has uncovered plenty of less familiar dishes as well, such as a Thirteenth-Century Hispano-Muslim Stew with various cuts of lamb, cassia and lavender; and Piquant Mutton and Zucchini Stewed in Vinegar from Tunisia. Headnotes and sidebars are rich with etymology (Solyanka, a traditional Russian stew, means "confused") and history (the homeland of Octopus Stew from the Island of Djerba was believed to be the land of the lotus eaters mentioned by Homer). Chapters are divided by main ingredient in the stew, with selections heavy on meat there are separate chapters for beef, veal, lamb, etc., and the lamb chapter contains 60 of the book's 300 recipes. Even many of the selections in the vegetable chapter, such as Bean and Cabbage Stew from the Roussillon, are flavored with some meat. With dishes ranging from straightforward Braised Beef Short Ribs in Merlot to multilayered Duck, Sausage and Chestnut Stew from Lombardy, this is one book that can satisfy many palates.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Non
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Common Press (September 5, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558321993
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558321991
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,339,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Catherine S. Vodrey on September 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
I am a longtime fan of cookbook author Clifford A. Wright, and was delighted to get a copy of his latest, "Real Stew." Perfect just as the weather starts coming on cold, this cookbook makes wonderful leisure-time reading and is chock-full of terrific recipes to boot.
Wright has set an ambitious agenda for himself here, including stews from all over the world. Hungarian Paprikash is here, as is Spicy Indian Eggplant Stew, Bedouin Lamb and Mushroom Stew, Swedish Sailor's Beef Stew, and more. I can't find one that doesn't come across as utterly mouthwatering. Stew is comfort food at its most primal, of course, and Wright gets down and dirty and primal with the ingredients. You'll find stews here calling for rabbit, for instance, and he even gives a brief overview of a Canadian specialty called Assiniboin Bear Stew (which he cautions you not to make unless you're prepared to marinate the bear meat in either wine or vinegar). Of course there are plenty of fish and shellfish stews as well.
Beautiful graphic design, numbered directions (in my view, a must for when the cook must look away for a moment), and easy-to-assemble ingredient lists help to make Wright's "Real Stew" a real winner for both beginner and experienced cooks.
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Format: Paperback
I generally do not review cookbooks, but I felt obliged to review Real Stew after seeing so many questions raised about its practicality.

I have owned this book for several years, and both my partner and I cook from it regularly. We give it as a gift to our friends and recommend it often and wholeheartedly. A number of the recipes are on very high rotation with us (the Austrian beer stew comes to mind) and it is never put away for very long in the colder months.

Wright is clearly interested in the history of these recipes as much as he is in the practical side of cooking. That is one of the things that I enjoy so much about it as a cook book. The historical side bars are fascinating and fun, and I really liked the chance to try out some of the ancestors of family favorites. Readers should use their common sense about how far they want to follow him down the road of some of the more historical recipes-- some of them are clearly included for the fun of it. I found that even the less practical entries added texture and humor to the work.

It is true that this isn't the book if you are looking for quick one-pot recipes which you can make in a half an hour and toss into the oven. This is more the kind of book for a Saturday or Sunday afternoon cooking together as a family.

As to the ingredients, it is also true that while some of them may be hard to pick up in the local supermarket, most of them should be able to be found with no real difficulty. You will need access to a good butcher and to a market or organic store which has some of the more out-of-the way vegetables. I live in Amsterdam, very far from the source and target market of most of these recipes, and I have still been able to locate most of the ingredients.
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By A Customer on December 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
I was dismayed to see that 25 of 27 readers found the panning review by "Houston TX Reader" (December 12, 2002) to be helpful. His review is seriously flawed, and very much misses the point. For one, Wright's "Cliff's No-Name Stew," which "Houston" lambastes, is clearly a tongue-in-cheek finale, a freezer-and-fridge-emptying fun project, and not one of the carefully researched ethnic recipes that Wright offers. While sometimes complex, these recipes and his notes give a clear and richly detailed account of a world of classic, authentic, and distinguished stews. "Houston" seems preoccupied with counting ingredients, and lacks the cook's common sense to omit or substitute -- there is no need to despair of parsley root or duck fat, or to vacate to "chefs with unlimited access." My concern, really, is not with "Houston," but with the 25 readers who may have given this book less than a fair look. Please try again.
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Format: Paperback
This book, like all of Clifford Wright's books, is a pleasure and a treasure. The man is a genius. Most of the recipes are extremely easy and extremely delicious, like the Hungarian Smoked Sausage and Prune Stew, which has a total of 4 ingredients, including water (a garnish/enrichment adds 2 more). Wright makes the recipes easy by giving authentic ingredients but including substitutes that you can find in any market. For example, he says to use a prosciutto bone or a ham bone; goat milk or cow milk plus cream, etc. Many of the stews have only 3 or 4 ingredients after water and salt and pepper; many include ingredients that are just throw-ins that require no preparation, like olives, capers, tomato paste, nuts, or raisins. The more adventurous cook can try recipes that include things like preserved lemons--Wright tells you how to make them. He also makes the book idiot-proof with the organization: "Stews With Beef," "Stews With Pork," "Stews With Vegetables"--you get the idea. If you don't like some of the ingredients, you can substitute what you do like. You can't go wrong with Wright.
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Format: Paperback
This cookbook will definitely challenge you to think beyond the "traditional stew" of meat and potatoes. The author provides many sidebars to explain terms or to provide rationales behind certain ingredients. While the recipes call for many ingredients, it is certainly not any different from cooking by scratch where the cook simply adds a little of this and a little of that until the desired flavors are achieved. You will need to have access to a good butcher in order to make the most of this book, but any good cook should be able to make do or substitute in the recipes to get something he or she enjoys. A list of sources for many of the ingredients used in this book can be found in the back.
Overall, I enjoyed reading through the book and have tried several of the less ambitious recipes. I especially enjoy the ones with African and Indian backgrounds.
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