Stories We Like: A Guide to the Comma
c.1400, "to bathe in a steam bath," from Old French estuver (French étuver) "bathe, stew," of uncertain origin. Common Romanic (cf. Spanish estufar, Italian stufare), possibly from Vulgar Latin *extufare "evaporate," from ex- "out" + *tufus "vapor, steam," from Greek typhos "smoke." Cf. Old English stuf-bæþ "hot-air bath;" see stove. Meaning "to boil slowly, to cook meat by simmering it in liquid" is attested from early 15c. The meaning "to be left to the consequences of one's actions" is from 1650s, from figurative expression to stew in one's own juices. Slang stewed "drunk" first attested 1737.
c.1300, "vessel for cooking," from stew (v.). Later "heated room" (late 14c.). The noun meaning "stewed meat with vegetables" is first recorded 1756; Irish stew is attested from 1814. The obsolete slang meaning "brothel" (mid-14c., usually plural, stews) is from an earlier sense of "public bath house," carried over from Old French and reflecting the reputation of such houses.
dish of meat, poultry, or fish, usually with vegetables, cooked in liquid in a closed vessel over low heat. Prepared properly, the stew never boils, but simmers at about 190 F (88 C), a process that tenderizes tougher foods and mingles flavours. Meats to be stewed are cut in cubes, fowls are jointed, and fish is cut in steaks or chunks. For brown stews, the meat pieces (and sometimes a portion of the vegetables) are seared in hot fat before the liquid is added. Poultry is often cooked a blanc, without browning, as are delicate veal and lamb stews. Root vegetables (carrots, onions, turnips, parsnips, and potatoes), tomatoes, and celery are commonly added to stews. The sauce that develops as the dish cooks may be thickened by pureeing the vegetables or by incorporating flour or egg yolks.