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Feb 13, 2012 05:28 PM

choosing beef cuts for tender stew

My understanding is for tender meat one needs to purchase fatty/marbled meat. To obtain tender meat it is then braised/slowly cooked ("slowly cooked" being the operative phrase), in a covered Dutch oven whether on the stove for stew or covered in the oven for a braised meat. I thought fatty/marbled meat was called for in order to have tender meat after long, slow cooking.

I'd been Googling the different cooking methods and the cuts to choose applicable to each cooking method.
So I was confused when I read the info below about what I think of as lean, tough meats that I thought need to be prepared quickly such as broiling/grilling and cut very thin otherwise they're very tough.
Do you agree with the statement below?

"Brisket as well as flank steak can be used for beef stew. The brisket has enough fat and connective tissue and since some brisket flats are pretty lean you can choose one that isn't as fatty as others. Flank steak is often used to make the beef stew."

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  1. My understanding is for tender meat one needs to purchase fatty/marbled meat.

    That's not exactly true. What you need is cheaper chuck cuts, like chuck blade/shoulder. You could use anything for a stew, but using more expensive cuts doesn't necessarily mean it will be better....just more expensive and a crime.

    1. Flank steak is used to make ropa vieja. It's cooked until it shreds. My pic would be chuck.

      1 Reply
      1. re: monavano

        Agreed. Chuck's your cut for stew. It will cook nicely low and slow, or in the pressure cooker. Makes good chili too.

      2. Fat and marbling are not the same thing. Chuck has plenty of fat, but it's mostly in layers around the muscles. A New York strip steak might be well marbled, but it would be a waste of money to use it in a stew. Anyway, the cheaper cuts usually have more flavor when braised or stewed. Brisket would be ok, as would boneless short ribs (my favorite for braising). But chuck is less expensive and easy to find.

        One thing that can be confusing is that some cuts come out well when cooked quickly at high temp, or long and slow (usually using a wet method), but don't do well in between. Take brisket. You can slice it and make fajitas in 5 minutes, barbeque it (I mean real barbeque), or hot smoke it for many hours, but if you dry cook it at medium temperatures it will come out tough and dry.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Zeldog

          Second the info here, I'm also a huge braised short rib fan as well as oxtail.

          I think your opening statement of fatty marbled meat being tender is correct, but it is tender with quick cooking like grilling or pan seared/oven finished. Thing medium rare steak, the best cuts or rib eye, new york strip (sirloin) etc. For meat that is tender, fall apart yummy unctuousness after stewing or braising, you need meat with connective tissue such as sinew and tendons. After being cooked low and slow it's the connective tissue that softens and dissolves into rich yumminess.

          1. re: Zeldog

            Yes, that's what I was saying above