When looking for stew meat, skip the fancy steak and look for a heartier, tougher cut of beef. You want meat that has a lot of collagen-rich connective tissue, which will break down over the low and slow cooking period, leading to chunks of beef that are tender and flavorful, not dry and tough.
Turn to cuts like a chuck roast or a round roast. Both of these meats are tough and chewy if you cook them up quickly, but cook them slowly and the collagen and fat within melts and tenderizes the protein, while also adding lots of flavor and body to the broth of your stew. These cuts are also usually much cheaper per pound than the fancier steaks on the market, which only adds to their appeal as stew meat.
It’s definitely tempting to throw all of your beef stew ingredients into the pot all at once and to start cooking right away – and many recipes tell you to do just that. But if you simply set and forget your stew, you’re missing out on a lot of flavor.
To add a depth of savory, meaty flavor to your beef stew, you should always sear your meat before you start the braising process.
You can brown your beef right in the same pot you’re going to make the stew in. Add the cubed, seasoned meat in batches to a pot over medium high heat, letting it caramelize on the outside but not cooking it through. Remove the seared beef and repeat until all of it is finished. Make sure you don’t overcrowd the pan.
The caramelization process adds extra depth of flavor to your stew, and the brown bits at the bottom of the pan can be scraped up with a wooden spoon when you add the broth, which will infuse the liquid with even more rich flavor.
If you’re using a slow cooker, it’s still worth it to sear your meat before adding it to the pot – and don’t forget to deglaze the pan you used to sear the beef, adding the prized liquid to the slow cooker too before continuing on.
Watch the full video to see huge mistakes everyone makes when cooking beef stew.
Using the wrong meat | 0:00
Not searing the meat | 0:51
Not using aromatics | 1:53
Using the wrong liquid | 2:41
Overly thick stew | 3:46
Not skimming the fat | 4:45
Not adding acid | 5:33
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