Generally, for stews, it is best to use cuts of beef with a fair amount of marbling, with fat and connective tissue. These cuts will become tender and flavorful as they cook and will help to add depth of flavor to the stew.
Suggested Cuts of Beef for Stew Recipes
Chuck roast: Chuck roast is a relatively inexpensive cut of beef that comes from the shoulder area of the cow. It has a good amount of fat and connective tissue, which makes it a good choice for stews. As it cooks, the fat and connective tissue will break down, resulting in tender, flavorful meat.
Brisket: Brisket is another cut of beef that is well-suited for stews. It comes from the chest area of the cow and has a lot of fat and connective tissue. This makes it a good choice for slow-cooking methods, such as stews, as it will become tender and flavorful as it cooks.
Short ribs: Short ribs are another excellent choice for stews. They come from the rib area of the cow and have a lot of fat and connective tissue. They are best cooked slow over low heat, making them well-suited for stews.
Check out my beef short rib stew recipe.
Round roast: Round roast is a leaner cut from the cow’s hindquarters. It is best when cooked slowly over low heat, as this will help to tenderize the meat. Although not as tender as some of the other cuts listed above, it can still be used in stews.
What is marbling, and why it’s important when cooking stews?
Marbling refers to the distribution of fat within a cut of meat. The tiny flecks or fat streaks are interspersed within the muscle tissue of the meat. Marbling is important in cooking stews because the fat helps to add flavor and moistness to the dish. It also helps to keep the meat tender during the long cooking process.
When choosing a cut of beef for stewing, it is generally best to select one with moderate marbling. This will help to ensure that the meat stays moist and flavorful as it cooks. However, trim any excess fat from the meat before adding it to the stew, as this can help to reduce the overall fat content of the dish.
In general, well-marbled cuts of beef include ribeye, strip steak, and prime rib. These cuts tend to be more expensive, but they are also more flavorful and tender. Less marbled cuts, such as round or chuck, are generally less expensive but may require longer cooking times to become tender.
For more information on beef check out this article from the beef council.
Don’t buy already cut-up stew meat, it’s usually more expensive per pound, and it’s easy to cut up your meat. You will need a sharp knife and a cutting board.
- Start by trimming off any excess fat or sinew from the meat. This will help to prevent the stew from becoming greasy or tough.
- Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces, about 1-2 inches in size. Make sure the pieces are evenly sized to cook evenly in the stew.
- Once you have cut the meat into the desired size and shape, it is ready to be added to your stew. Using a slow or pressure cooker, you can add the meat to the pot along with the other ingredients. If you use a stovetop method, you may want to sear the meat in a hot pan with oil before adding it to the stew. This will help to lock in the juices and give the meat a nice sear on the outside.
It is generally recommended to cut stew meat against the grain. Cutting against the grain means slicing the meat perpendicular to the lines of muscle fibers rather than parallel to them. This can help to make the meat more tender and easier to chew.
When meat is cooked, the muscle fibers contract and become more compact; if the meat is cut with the grain, the fibers will be longer, and the meat may be chewy. On the other hand, if the meat is cut against the grain, the fibers will be shorter, and the meat will be more tender.
That being said, cutting stew meat against the grain is not always necessary. Some cuts of beef, such as chuck roast, are naturally tender and can be left in larger chunks without the need to slice them against the grain. Ultimately, the decision to cut the meat against the grain will depend on the specific cut and the desired tenderness level.