Savory Stews Heat Up Fall Menus

By: Karen Dybis | November 6, 2020

Photo Courtesy of J-Bird Smoked Meats.

Broth may seem boring and soups skimpy when you think about the glory that is a well-made stew – a thick, hearty and warming dish that contains an array of ingredients and typically a good-sized serving of protein all in one bowl.

Plus, stews come in a variety of traditional and nontraditional recipes. Stews can be beef-based concoctions, like what you’d expect to see on a harvest table or hunting lodge. Stews can be vegetarian, blending beans or tasty black-eyed peas into a rich dish. Even gumbos are considered stews, adding rice as a key component. 

Chef Jeremy Grandon of J-Bird Smoked Meats in Keego Harbor talks about stew and his signature gumbo just like the recipe eats – he starts slowly, warms up to the subject and then delights in describing the qualities within stews that he loves not only to make as a chef but to eat when he’s craving a warm fall meal. 

Grandon knows his broths, soups and stews well. He has been in the restaurant business for more than 20 years now, going from a degree from the Culinary Institute of American in New York, then as a chef at Tribute in Farmington Hills and as owner of Jeremy Restaurant & Bar. 

At J-Bird Smoked Meats, Grandon makes his gumbo a bit Southern, staying true to the restaurant’s barbecue specialties. He adds rice but also garlic, onion, celery, green peppers and tomatoes for the base and, to be honest, for the veggie content. There’s also a hint of sassafras root.  

But the key ingredients are the proteins. It includes bourbon-smoked chicken and sausage, all made in house. There’s also a large portion of shrimp inside the thick, gravy-like stew that all together “creates one hearty, full, satisfying flavor,” Grandon said. 

“It’s good for fall because it’s spicy and has a lot going on,” Grandon said. “We made a good, straightforward gumbo that’s very filling and traditional. But’s it’s good as an entrée as well if you want because it’s meaty.”

Here are a few other local stews from Metro Detroit restaurants that will keep you warm and conquer your appetite as well. 

Detroit Vegan Soul

The Okra Stew Bowl at Detroit Vegan Soul seems like it has been stewed all day and all night – it’s that tender. The dish includes fresh okra, tomato, onion, rice and black-eyed peas within its savory bowl of goodness.

Los Galanes

This Mexicantown favorite in Detroit has a well-loved pork stew on its menu. This stew includes three different kinds of proteins as well: Beef, chicken and pork. The portion size at Los Galanes is large enough as well that you likely will have enough to take home to enjoy at another meal. 

Detroit Shawarma

Stew from a shawarma spot? Better believe it. Imagine that slow-cooked meat within a well-made stew base and you’ll understand why so many people recommend this as a starter or as a main dish from Detroit Shawarma

Morning Glory Coffee & Pastries

This local hot spot in Grosse Pointe Farms has a delicious Chicken Stew that’s made in house and can be ordered by the cup, bowl or quart. Morning Glory makes it with a base that is a beautiful mix of savory ingredients including onion, carrot and celery with lots of chicken. 

Peso

Some people may know this bar and restaurant for its famous craft cocktails made from the family’s tequila. But the food is just as sparkling at Peso’s Detroit-based location. Try the Birria stew, which includes Jalisco-style beef as its signature protein, one of the restaurant’s most tender offerings.