Lime Juice Is The Ingredient You're Missing For A Lively Beef Stew

Bowl of beef stew on a tea towel
Bowl of beef stew on a tea towel - Svetlana Monyakova/Shutterstock

Stew is an all-time winter classic, perfect for warming you up on those long, chilly evenings. It might be hard to imagine that your favorite homemade beef stew could possibly be any better. But if you're not using citrus juice in it, then yes, your stew can still be improved upon. Although you may have never noticed that it's missing, lime juice is one of the ingredients you need to try to kick your beef stew up a notch.

It makes sense when you think about it -- lime juice and beef go together arguably as well as peanut butter and jelly, after all. Acid is an important ingredient for adding a little bit of zing to hearty dishes like stews. Food writer Yasmin Fahr, in an article for Today, noted a lesson one of her previous editors taught her "was that food often tastes underseasoned because it's lacking acid." So if you want to elevate the flavor of your beef stew, don't reach for the spice rack yet again -- grab a lime instead. You'll be pleasantly surprised by the difference a little citrus juice can make in your stew's overall palate.

Read more: The Unexpected Meat You Need To Avoid Grilling At All Costs

Juice The Marinade

Beef chunks chopped for stew
Beef chunks chopped for stew - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

There are a couple of different times you can add lime juice to your beef stew, but while the stew is cooking isn't one of them. Not only does simmering the citrus subdue its natural taste, but it can also cause it to become bitter. On the other hand, including lime juice in the beef's marinade will allow the flavor to work its way into the meat a little bit while the acid in the juice will help break down some of the meat's toughness. If that isn't the best of both worlds, then what is?

If you've purchased a roast to slice into chunks for your stew, be sure to chop up the meat before putting it into the marinade. This will allow the lime juice to soak into more of the actual meat. That's because the marinade only affects the immediate surface area of the beef -- it's just not able to work its way all the way through.  So if you soak the roast whole, the middle parts might not absorb any of the marinade's citrusy flavors.

Also Add Lime Juice Before Serving

Lime wedges on white background
Lime wedges on white background - akepong srichaichana/Shutterstock

As with all citrus fruit juices, a squeeze or two of lime juice should be added to your stew after the finished stew has been removed from heat. Even better, serve your beef stew with lime wedges on the side, too, so the stew can be seasoned to individual tastes. Citrus zest, which could also be added at the end of the cooking process, is a great way to amp up the flavor even more. The zest works great as a garnish added to the top of individual bowls, where it will give the meal a splash of color as well.

By waiting to use the lime juice and (optional) zest until after you've taken the beef stew off of the stove (or, if you made your stew in a slow cooker, turned off the cooker), you will preserve the full flavor of the citrus, and avoid any off-flavors that can happen from cooking citrus juice. After trying lime juice in your beef stew once, there's a good chance you will always want to give stew a good squeeze.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.