Tough Stewing Beef

cookie8April 16, 2010

Well, I am only going to assume it will be since the last time I made stew it was really tough and it is the frozen 2nd batch of the pack of meat I bought. Anyways, will simmering it for a couple of hours help it not be so tough? Any other recommendations? thanks.

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Rusty

Yes, long, slow simmering will help.

So will adding something a little acid, depending on what you are making.

Some tomatoes, a bit of balsimic vinegar. Whatever compliments your finished

Rusty

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 1:10PM
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triciae

Acids will help tenderize so I'd add a cup (or two) of red wine after searing to the stew. Long & slow cooking...barely a simmer for as long as it takes. Don't 'ya hate tough stew meat!

/tricia

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 1:10PM
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Rusty

Meant to say "Whatever compliments your finished dish".

Apparently I was typing at the same time as tricia.

Rusty

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 1:12PM
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cookie8

Well, normally, when I make stew it is very, very simple. Brown the beef, put in my dutch oven with diced potatoes, carrots and sometimes onion (depends if I can handle kids complaints that day) and top with chicken stock. I cook until potatoes are ready and frozen corn and peas and will make a rue to thicken. So, what should I add to add as little flavour as possible. Can't wait until I no longer have to add that last sentence!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 1:19PM
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triciae

Add tomatoes. Lots of acid.

/t

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 1:27PM
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angelaid

I brown the meat, add the meat, all my vegies and stock to the crock from the crock pot and refrigerate all night. Pop the crock in the pot and cook all day. Haven't had a tough one yet.
I always make double batches. The next day, I add a little red wine, maybe some extra taters and mushrooms if I need them and pop it in the oven in a pie crust for beef burgundy pot pie that everyone loves.
I wish I could get paid to stay home and cook all day. *sigh*

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 1:30PM
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lindac

If you are only cooking the meat as long as it takes the potatoes to get tender, it won't be nearly long enough.
Will your kids eat catsup? That's acid enopugh to help tenderize the meat.
My kids would eat any kind of stew as long as I separated it out on their plate....meat in one corner, potatoes mashed with a fork and a little butter and carrots in the other corner. It's not necessary to eat pieces of onion to get the good flavor of onion into the meat.
The thing to remember is don't "boil" the stew....just a gentle plip plop of bubbles breaking the surface.
Linda C

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 1:46PM
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annie1992

I agree, long slow cooking is necessary to tenderize stew beef. I don't really like tomatoes in my stew, but I find that a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste add negligible tomato flavor and is enough to help tenderize.

Beer or wine works too, but I don't like those flavors, so it's tomato paste for me.

Annie

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 1:56PM
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Rusty

If you coat your beef with flour before browning, it will make its own 'gravy' as it cooks.
No need to make a roux to thicken at the end.

Tomatoes will do a good job of tenderizing the beef, but will also add lots of flavor.

If your family doesn't want them in there, try the Balsamic vinegar.
I usually use the white Balsamic, as it seems much milder than the dark, and it does a good job of tenderizing, too.
Even regular vinegar will work.
White vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or whatever other kind you may have on hand.
A "one-two" count of the vinegar out of the bottle will be plenty for a couple of pounds of beef, and will add no discernable flavor.

Rusty

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 1:56PM
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cookie8

Thanks. Too late Annie. I already quartered a tomato and added it in. I will keep in mind for next time to do tomato paste. Thanks for the input on all this. I am also simmering it on a very low heat over the next few hours. It's a perfect day for stew as it is so drizzly and cool out. Wish I had the ambition to make some bread to go with it.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 2:09PM
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teresa_nc7

Two words: pressure cooker.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 3:16PM
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Marigene

I agree with Teresa...pressure cooker is the best tenderizer for tough meat!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 3:47PM
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johnliu_gw

Here's what I do.

Cut beef into chunks. Trim off gristle but leave all the fat. If you are lucky enough to have bones, knuckles, necks, etc, include them with the meat. You can buy these bits in an Asian market.

Sear meat on all sides. Place into a pot that has a tight fitting lid w/ a modest amount (1/2 cup or so) of liquid (water, beef stock, red wine), tomato paste (1/2 to 1 small can, mixed up w/ the meat), and some salt. Cover pot and bake in oven at lowest temp (170F usually) for a few to even several hours.

Alternatively, cook for hours on burner, covered, at lowest flame. Yet alternatively, seal the meat, liquid (less liquid in this case) and tomato paste in aluminium foil and bake as above.

When the meat is tender enough to be pulled apart with two forks, but not falling apart, remove from heat. Spoon off the fat, leaving the yummy liquid with all the beef juices.

Place in pot, if it isn't already, and add cut potatoes. Bake at 200F or cook on burners at low flame until potatoes are half done. Add carrots, onions, and other veg, plus bay leaf and whatever herbs you want, and cook until those are done. This is done either covered or uncovered, depending on if there is excess liquid you want to cook out.

I may add more red wine or water or stock during this process - depends on if you want a dry-ish stew or a soupy stew. Near the end, add a bit of bright color - chopped chives or red, yellow, or orange bell peppers.

The goal, for me, is a stew that is mostly meat, with rich and somewhat thick liquid, of a dark brown color enlivened with bright orange carrots, fresh green chives, and other colors. Everything should be tender but still have some firmness, not be baby-food soft. The potatoes should not be falling apart, the veg should not be mushy, the stew should not be floury or muddy in color.

If the beef is tough, and you cook the potatoes and veg for the same time as the beef, you will end up with either tough stew meat or gray, mushy, disintegrating potatoes/veg.

Adding tomatoes isn't as good as using tomato paste, because the tomatoes include an awful lot of water that dilutes the acid and flavor that they bring, and because you need to peel the tomatoes or end up with fragments of slimy tomato skins in the stew.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 3:47PM
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Islay_Corbel

The secret is in the name. Stewing implies long, slow cooking. Four to five hours in a slow oven would give you mouth-melting stew! If the little ones don't like flavour, just really good stock and tomatoes will do the trick.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 2:56AM
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dcarch7

It does not matter how long you cook/stew, it's not going to happen,if you live in an high altitude area.

You must use a pressure cooker in those areas to tenderize meats.

dcarch

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 8:08AM
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sherrmann

Hi Johnliu, are you the doctor who lives next door to me with whom I frequently talk about what we're cooking for dinner that I gave a big handful of chives to the other day? Amazing coincidence if you are......

I also use the pressure cooker for stew meat. Wonderful invention.

Sherry

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 9:02AM
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lindac

dcarch, I respectfully disagree. I have cooked stew at 10,000 and it does get tender. At that altitude, water boils at about 195 degrees....easily hot enough to cook beef, it just takes a little longer.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 9:32AM
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cookie8

Well, the tomato and extra cooking helped a lot. I even got a "positive" complaint. My 9 years said he likes his meat chewier. Ha ha - gotta laugh that one off!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 11:08AM
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triciae

I'm somewhere between dcarch & lindac. After a decade in Denver my experience was that braising helped to retain meat's moisture content long enough to get it sorta tender. But, I never did get a stew as good as here at 7' elevation.

As altitude increases and atmospheric pressure decreases, the boiling point of water also decreases. To compensate for the lower boiling point of water the cooking time must be increased. Turning up the heat will not help cook food faster.

No matter how high the cooking temperature unless using a pressure cooker, water cannot exceed its own boiling point. If you turn up the heat, the water will simply boil away faster and whatever you are cooking will dry out quicker.

/tricia

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 2:04PM
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dcarch7

"Posted by lindac --dcarch, I respectfully disagree. I have cooked stew at 10,000 and it does get tender. At that altitude, water boils at about 195 degrees....easily hot enough to cook beef, it just takes a little longer. "

Of course you are correct. I should have learned never say never. :-)

However, 195 degrees is drastically lower than pressure cooker's temperature, which is around 250 degrees.

dcarch

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 2:44PM
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johnliu_gw

Sherry, no, I'm not he. But I wish I had a neighbor who gave me chives.

So, on the topic of stew, I made some today on the burner. This stuff was a bit different as the point of it was to get scrumptious liquid to serve over tender carrots and potatoes as a sort of richly meaty veg & potato soup. I didn't even serve the meat to the kids - so that meant more for me, and my visiting dad.

The meat was two beef tails and two pounds of beef tendons. Sounds odd, I guess, but those parts have big flavour and lots of gelatin if cooked low and slow. Also tomato paste, onion, garlic, red wine, black vinegar, a little bit of liquid smoke, salt, pepper.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 9:16PM
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