what is the best cut of meat for beef stew

Chuck. Chuck is one of the leaner types of beef, making it perfect for stews because it melts into delicious pieces as it cooks. A chuck roast has a large amount of connective tissue, which allows it to retain its moisture during the cooking process.

A hearty beef stew is both a tasty and affordable dinner option. Stews come under the umbrella of slow cooked beef dishes and as such any beef cut that shines in slow cooking will work well. This is the time to use a cheaper cut as while they are tougher, they turn into melt-in-your-mouth pieces of beef once cooked over a longer period of time.

Muscles, Collagen, Toughness, and Tenderness

The amount of collagen youre likely to find in a muscle is related to how much that muscle is used: The stronger a muscle is, and the more it has to work for the animal, the more collagen youll find in it. Beef tenderloin? Its a weak muscle, which means that its low in collagen and very tender—hence the name. A cows shoulder muscles, known as the chuck, on the other hand, support much of its body weight, which makes them very strong, collagen-rich, and, yup, you guessed it: tough. Other factors also help determine the amount of collagen, like age (younger animals have more of it), but how much a muscle is used and its strength are the biggest predictors within any given animal.

Why Collagen-Rich Beef Is Good in a Stew

At this point, youre likely wondering what this has to do with stew. And, once again, the answer is collagen. See, collagen is tough as heck when raw—youll have as much luck chewing through it as my free-falling friend did completely tearing my ligament—but cook it long enough and itll transform into meltingly soft gelatin, giving the meat a moist and tender texture. That gelatin will also seep into the surrounding stew liquids, increasing their viscosity and giving them rich body. But simmer a low-collagen, tender-when-raw cut like tenderloin for three hours, and itll turn horribly tough and dry.

To give you a visual, I simmered lean, collagen-poor beef eye round for two hours. As you can see in the photo below, the cut has relatively little marbling—intramuscular fat and connective tissue (i.e., collagen)—when raw. Once fully cooked, its pretty much a stews worst nightmare, nothing but tight little bundles of parched muscle fiber.

what is the best cut of meat for beef stew

Whats interesting about all of this is that regardless of how much collagen a piece of beef has, itll lose roughly the same amount of moisture when cooked. I weighed two equal, 630-gram portions of beef, one chuck (lots of collagen and connective tissue) and the other eye round (not much at all), then simmered them for two hours and re-weighed. The chuck lost 254 grams of its weight, while the eye round lost 275 grams, a measly 21-gram difference. That means both cuts dry out approximately the same amount, but the chuck, with the help of its gelatin, seems to be moister when you eat it.

The key, then, is to seek tough cuts of beef with plenty of collagen and fat for stews…which still leaves us with quite a lot of cow to choose from. To find out how each of the six most common tough cuts performs, I browned each, then simmered them all in water until tender, which was about two hours in most cases.

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what is the best cut of meat for beef stew

what is the best cut of meat for beef stew

A hearty beef stew is both a tasty and affordable dinner option. Stews come under the umbrella of slow cooked beef dishes and as such any beef cut that shines in slow cooking will work well. This is the time to use a cheaper cut as while they are tougher, they turn into melt-in-your-mouth pieces of beef once cooked over a longer period of time.

Chuck. Chuck is one of the leaner types of beef, making it perfect for stews because it melts into delicious pieces as it cooks. A chuck roast has a large amount of connective tissue, which allows it to retain its moisture during the cooking process.

FAQ

Is sirloin or chuck better for stew?

Beef chuck is best for stew,” said Arjuna Bull, chef/partner of Luthun in New York City. “It has some fat but not too much, and it also has a good ratio of meat and fat. Beef chuck often has the most consistent meat-to-fat ratio [of beef cuts in general], making it a good, safe choice [for beef stew].”

Is beef stew meat the same as chuck roast?

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.

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