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Help ASAP! Tough beef stew!

julseydesign Oct 30, 2007 04:58 PM

I'm in the process of making a beef stew. I started cooking about 2 hrs ago, and started with some onions and garlic, browned my meat, added a little tomato paste and some spices, tossed in some mushrooms, water, and a little balsamic. Its been cooking stovetop on low to medium low since then. I kept thinking that it would just soften up over time, and similar to pot roast, brisket, etc. longer was better. BUT its totally tough, and i'm afraid is going to be dry. Is is possible I over cooked it? Is there anything I can do to save it?

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  1. rockandroller1 RE: julseydesign Oct 30, 2007 05:03 PM

    My guess is you started with beef that was very lean, which isn't great for stew. What cut of meat was it?

    I'm not sure you can rescue it at this point. I'm sure it will still be very tasty, just not particularly tender?

    1 Reply
    1. re: rockandroller1
      julseydesign RE: rockandroller1 Oct 30, 2007 05:10 PM

      It was pre-packaged in the supermarket as "stew beef" already cut into chucks. I have a cold this week, and I thought to myself "oh, that looks easy to do..." It was a very lean cut, which (like in the case of brisket) can be fine. I'm not sure, perhaps i'll let it sit overnight and eat it tomorrow instead...

    2. frankiii RE: julseydesign Oct 30, 2007 05:11 PM

      if you cook it for a few more hours it will soften. the heat will break down the muscle. It will not be dry (unless the pieces are huge). But, the texture may suffer as the remaining items in the stew may turn to mush. The flavor will probably be fine though. I used some meat that was too lean in a stew last week and it took about 4 hours on a low simmer.

      3 Replies
      1. re: frankiii
        Regan B RE: frankiii Oct 30, 2007 05:45 PM

        Just keep cooking--gently cooking.

        1. re: Regan B
          diablo RE: Regan B Oct 31, 2007 09:06 AM

          I agree with frankii and regan. Two hours isn't long enough to soften it up. If you are worried about compromising the rest of the stew ingredients, just fish them out and add back in later to finish up.

        2. re: frankiii
          Kagey RE: frankiii Nov 1, 2007 02:29 AM

          Agreed. Some meat really needs longer to cook, and that's normal. My brisket usually takes at least three hours, and I cook it in the oven (covered), which is good because it reduces the urge to peek! It shouldn't dry out if you have plenty of flavorful liquid in the pan with it. The amount of fat will determine how moist it will feel in your mouth, though.

          As someone else mentioned, the other stew items may turn to mush. My solution to that is to add any vegetables that you want to eat later, maybe when you have only an hour or two left. That said, carrots hold up pretty well if they're cut in big chunks.

        3. alkapal RE: julseydesign Oct 31, 2007 06:22 AM

          i would up the vinegar, add more water (or wine!), and turn at least to medium for a slow simmer.

          1. KenWritez RE: julseydesign Nov 1, 2007 01:47 AM

            Braising is all about low moisuture, low heat, long cook time, and that's what you want. Let that stew continue cooking for at least 4 hrs. Plan on discarding any non-mushroom veg in there, as they will be mush and flavorless, but you can replace them with fresh, raw veg (chunked potato, cubed carrots and pearl onions are great. For easy, just nuke some chunked potatoes and a bag of frozen frozen peas and carrots and add them to the stew) and let them cook for about 20-30 minutes before you serve.

            1. c
              chickky311 RE: julseydesign Aug 22, 2011 10:53 AM

              I made a beef stew the other day, and some most of the chunks of meat came out a little tough. If I had stewed the meat longer, would it have all been tender (the cubes of meat were about 1 1/2 inches in diameter)? Also, I had some leftovers heated up for lunch today (I made the stew 2 days ago) and the meat all seemed very tender for some reason. Could the meat have gotten more tender while sitting in the pot in the refrigerator for the past 2 days?

              2 Replies
              1. re: chickky311
                alkapal RE: chickky311 Aug 23, 2011 04:19 AM

                yes, that has happened to me (i don't know why, unless it is carryover heat)….and i'll bet it tasted better too. ;-).

                1. re: chickky311
                  jvanderh RE: chickky311 Aug 23, 2011 06:25 AM

                  I also think it might have been carryover heat. The temp of the soup dropped and it sort of braised itself in the fridge for a little while.

                  Tough beef is almost always caused by having the heat too high. Simmer it very gently next time (just occasional, tiny bubbles in the soup).

                2. o
                  oldunc RE: julseydesign Aug 22, 2011 11:12 AM

                  Lean meat is fine for stew, much preferred really. When I learned beef stew lo these many years ago, it typically took about 3 hours but, since then, the cooking times have fallen; I suppose due to differences in the way cattle are raised- most meat seems to cook a bit faster nowadays. Two hours is a bit early to panic. At some point, the colagens will break down completely and the meat will shred itself- modern meat usually is getting to that point at 3 hours.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: oldunc
                    alkapal RE: oldunc Aug 23, 2011 04:20 AM

                    i don't want my meat to "shred" unless that is the recipe (like ropa vieja).

                    1. re: alkapal
                      oldunc RE: alkapal Aug 23, 2011 06:23 AM

                      I realize that, just pointing out that it usually reaches that stage at around 3 hours.

                      1. re: oldunc
                        alkapal RE: oldunc Aug 23, 2011 01:47 PM

                        funny thing is, my brother in law used to love a chuck roast my mom made, and called it "string roast" -- because it did get to that "stringy" stage, but not with the same braised mushiness. it wasn't braised (or more like stewed) so didn't get mush-like. i think she prepared it as a roast with maybe some onion soup mix and a little worcestershire…i really don't recall, and she can't tell me now from her resting place. but it was good. that lipton onion soup mix is a little wonder. ;).

                  2. pdxgastro RE: julseydesign Aug 22, 2011 05:27 PM

                    For your next stew, try putting the lid on and cooking it in the oven instead of on the stovetop. Somehow I think that all-over heat is better. Just be careful adding dried herbs after it's been in there a while as the hot air will blow them back into your eyes. Zoinks. LOL.

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