For budget-conscious home cooks, using stew meat in recipes is a great way to stretch a dollar!
What is Stew Meat?
Stew meat mostly comes from the tougher, larger parts of animals like cows, elk, deer, or pigs. Beef stew meat typically comes from the large shoulder of a cow, more commonly called “chuck”. But roast, top and bottom round, tips, and even steak can be used as stew meat.
When purchasing beef stew meat at the store, it can often be a mixture of bits and pieces left over from cutting up larger cuts of meat into steaks and roasts.
Many home cooks prefer to use chuck because it is consistent in cooking time and texture and the results are tender and juicy!
What Kind of Meat For Beef Stew?
For beef stew, there is no better cut of meat than chuck! Buy a thick chuck pot roast and cut it into chunks for the best tender flavor.
Chuck roast is a tougher cut of meat than sirloin or rib roast which really benefits from pressure cooking or slow cooking making the best beef stew! Pressure cooking or slow cooking breaks down tough fibers so the beef pieces become melt in your mouth tender.
Stew Meat is also a good option for the busy and budget-conscious cook. As beef stew meat tends to be a mixture of bits and pieces some bits can have a different texture when stewing.
In the image below, the meat on the left is chuck and has consistent texture and marbling throughout, the meat on the right is purchase stew meat of which some is very lean. I definitely find that chuck is the best for a stew recipe.
How to Cook Stew Meat
Browning in flour adds to the flavor and tenderness of stew meat.
- Cut pieces of stew meat into even-sized portions. Remove any large pieces of fat.
- Place them in a bowl with seasoned flour and toss to evenly coat.
- Saute them in a little oil or butter (bacon grease adds extra flavor) until browned.
Tips for Browning Stew Meat
- Use butter or oil to coat the pan.
- Brown beef in small batches for best results.
- Do not overcrowd the pan or the juices will keep the beef from forming a crust.
- Do not stir the beef, allow a deep crust to form before turning.
- Add liquid to scrape any brown bits (deglaze the pan) and add them to your recipe. These brown bits are full of flavor.
How to Make Stew Meat Tender
Most beef stew meat comes from the tougher cuts, but that doesn’t mean it has to turn out tough!
Low and slow is the name of the game here. Be sure to have adequate liquid in the pot, casserole dish, crockpot, or Instant Pot and cook it for the required time outlined in the recipe! This will ensure the best texture and flavor.
If your stew meat is tough, it most often needs MORE time.