Beef Stew Problem - beef turns out dry
How can I ensure that the beef turns out moist and tender every time I make beef stew?
Thx in advance!!
re: The Rogue
In particular, what cut of meat do you use? Chuck and shoulder cuts - meat with a lot of connective tissue - are by far the best for stew.
For whatever strange reasons, good round and rump go on sale in my neighborhood (UWS/Manhattan) a lot more often than chuck so I often use them for stew, but the downside is that the meat is always a bit on the dry side by stew standards. Very tender and flavorful, but not really "succulent." I try to make up for it with a rich sauce, but it's not really the same. Most of the time I'm willing to live with it to save what amounts to a fair chunk of change, but it is a trade-off.
Chuck is indeed the preferred cut for stew but if you have to use round then cook it at a gentle simmer (as gentle as possible, just a few tiny bubbles at a time, use a flame tamer if you have to) and then let it sit overnight in the fridge to reabsorb some of the broth. Next day, skim the solidified fat off (if you want)and reheat gently until just warm enough to serve. If you have to serve it the day it's prepared let it sit in its broth for half an hour before eating. It helps.
Yes, I pretty much do all that whatever cut I'm using (especially leaving it overnight - I always make stew at least a day ahead) and it does help, but it's still never quite the same.
As you say though, very low heat is definitely key. I never understand recipes that tell you to put them in a 300F degree or hotter oven. That's guaranteed to make anything with liquid cook at a fast boil which for stews (or braises or pot roasts) is a Very Bad Thing.
The two main culprits of dry meat are (a) heat is too high, and (b) too little fat in the meat to start.
If you're using a very lean cut of beef, try something that has more fat and connective tissue. If the meat is sufficiently fatty, keep the heat REAL low. Remember that, even with moist heat methods, high heat will wring moisture out of the meat tissues.