Ingredient of the Week: Beef for stew
Hearty beef stews can make a satisfying, easy and filling weeknight meal. Beef for stewing can be purchased already trimmed, cubed, and packaged in most food stores. It is often labeled "stew meat" without describing the cut from which the meat was obtained. Look for stew meat that has some marbling and connective tissue which will provide more flavor and help to keep the meat as tender as possible.
However, pre-packaged stew meat often falls short, with unknown and varying cuts of beef ininconsistent sizing.
You can also purchase the beef cut of your choice and cut it into pieces at home. It is usually less expensive to trim and cut the beef yourself and as a result, you will know exactly what you're getting.
Much of the beef used for stewing is obtained from the round cut, but almost any tough cut can be used because the stewing process helps to tenderize the meat.
The best beef for stewing, in terms of tenderness and flavor, comes from the chuck. It has plenty of fat and connective tissue that melts during the stewing process, providing flavor and preventing the meat from becoming tough.
Chuck-eye roast, in my opinion, is the most beefy-tasting cuts in the supermarket and is one of the cheapest. It also turns meltingly tender when it’s cooked.
Here's a great video showing how to cut a roast into chunks for stewing:
Do you buy prepackaged stew meat or have the butcher cut up a piece of chuck roast or round roast? Many meat departments in grocery stores will do this for no charge. Just pick out a roast and ask if they'll cut it into 1-1 1/2" pieces for you.