A Dash Of Chili Sauce Is The Ingredient You Need For A Rich Beef Stew

Beef stew in a pot
Beef stew in a pot - Rudisill/Getty Images

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When summer gives way to fall, and the weather starts to cool, people often talk about soup season -- but what about stew season? Soup may get you through those chilly autumn days, but stew is a heartier meal, perfect for the long, cold winter months.

Making stew may seem like a daunting task, but in reality, it only takes a little bit of prep work and the pot does the rest. Plus, beef stew is the ultimate one-pot meal. You get to have meat, carbs, veggies, and gravy all in one sitting. But if there is one drawback to beef stew, it's that it can often come out bland or one-note, so it's important to build rich flavor right from the beginning. Start with good quality meat and fresh veggies, and you're all set to make a good, basic stew. If you want a richer, more complex flavor, however, try adding some tomato-based chili sauce to your stew.

Read more: 15 Tips For Making The Best Meatloaf

Chili Sauce Versus Hot Sauce

Bottle of Thai chili and tomato sauce
Bottle of Thai chili and tomato sauce - Bloomberg/Getty Images

Chili sauce, which is different from your usual hot sauce, is a bit like a spiced, more flavorful ketchup. Hot sauces are made primarily with vinegar, hot chilis, and salt, have a much thinner texture, and are designed to be spicy. Chili sauce is made with tomatoes, chili peppers or spices, sugar, vinegar, and salt. It's got a thicker texture from the tomato, and chili flavor, and it can be either hot or sweet — or a little of both. It works very well with the earthy, umami flavors in beef stew, so if your recipe isn't quite as complex as you'd like it to be, a few tablespoons of sweet or spicy sauce can make a big difference.

If you aren't familiar with chili sauce, and you don't have a bottle on hand, you can usually find it in the grocery store near the ketchup. There are several mainstream brands available, or if you're someone who likes to shop private label brands, you can find those at Whole Foods and Walmart. If you want to add fiery heat to your stew, you can also use a spicy chili sauce, just make sure it's got tomato listed as an ingredient. Sriracha, for example, doesn't have tomato, but sriracha ketchup does and would be delicious in a spicy beef stew.

When To Add The Chili Sauce

Beef stew in a bowl
Beef stew in a bowl - Annapustynnikova/Getty Images

If you can't find chili sauce at the supermarket and you have access to fresh or canned mild chilis, you can make it from scratch. Another trick is to upgrade regular ketchup or tomato paste with some mild chili powder or paste.

The best time to add chili sauce to your stew is at the start. The beauty of beef stew is that if you give the ingredients the right conditions it develops its own sauce during the braising process. Over the time it takes for the braising liquid to cook and tenderize the meat, the flavors meld together. That's why you want to add your chili sauce to the pot at the same time as the braising liquid.

To get the best flavor use about ¼ of a cup of chili sauce for every pound of beef. If you find that after the stew is ready it needs a little more flavor you can add an extra tablespoon or two, but you want the bulk of the sauce to be in the pot while the meat is cooking. Mix everything and let the heat do its thing, and you'll be rewarded with super flavorful beef stew that will keep you warm all winter long.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.