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Beef Stew - Why do I have dry meat?!

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Looking for advice. Lately I cannot seem to achieve tender meat in braised dishes if a gun were being held to my head.  Beef Bourg., beef stew (using labled 'stew meat'), even my corned beef....  I'm beyond frustrated.  I understand that these cuts of meat require sufficient time for collagen to break down in order for meat to be tender, but even after three hours or more of braising (stove top) my meat is not getting tender.  I do sear my stew meat.  I do not use tenderizer.  I do not tenderize with a mallet.  Once all liquid is introduced to the pot, I bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Is the boiling the problem, perhaps too much heat too quickly?  Is my simmer not low enough?  I am shaking my damn head.  Please help. TIA

post #2 of 11

Take the gun away from your head... it's not THAT big of a problem!

 

Sounds like you aren't cooking it long enough.  The meat will be tough if not cooked enough.  You should be able to poke it with a fork and determine if it is tender or not.  If not, keep cooking.  :)

post #3 of 11

Stew is the perfect dish for a crock pot.  I dredge in seasoned flour, brown in a pot or pan, deglaze with red wine and into the slow cooker with herbs, veg and stock.  Ready when I come home. 

post #4 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheesestix22 View Post
 

..... but even after three hours or more of braising (stove top) my meat is not getting tender.  I do sear my stew meat. 

 

It could be anything but if you asked me, three hours or more of braising isn't right at all. In my own country we make a beef stew called "carbonnade flamande", using cuts of meat from the neck and shoulder part of beef which is quite tough meat. Usual simmering time is 90 minutes, possibly 15-30 minutes longer if needed!! If you go longer, the meat will get very stringy and dry...

 

Could also be the searing of the meat; cut in not too large nor too small chunks. 3/4 to 1 inch is perfect. Sear on medium-high fire but only a few at a time. Take as much time as needed to get a nice coloring, this will seal the meat and prevent getting dry (this will also color the sauce). If you overcrowd the pan when searing, the meat will start to boil in it's own juices which it will release. The end-result will always be very tough.

 

I posted a recipe for carbonnade flamande in a post started by Siduri, maybe it will reveal some more ideas. Good luck with your next stew!

(You can use red wine instead of beer as a stewing liquid in that recipe)

 

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/75530/carbonnade-a-la-flamande-i-want-a-good-recipe#post_426335

post #5 of 11

I agree with Chris, in my experience I've done the same thing.  I thought the longer the better but in reality a beef stew (using chuck which is from the shoulder) cooking it for more than 3hrs resulted in tough stringyness.  I now cook it whole about 2.5hrs and get very good results.  Since you cut it up into chunks you may need to cook it even less.  I would say that about 90min taste a piece and if it's still too tough leave it in for another 20min.  I also find that pulling it out at 2.5hrs and letting it coming completely to room temperature does wonderful things for the texture of the meat.  Then I reheat it and it's perfect.

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post #6 of 11

It's hard to say without seeing your recipe.  When I make beouf bourguignon (for a slow cooker), after I cook the bacon, I add beef cubes (1 1/2-2") to a dutch oven and brown using tongs to turn & move the meat around while cooking. Using a fork will pierce the meat, which will cause it to dry out. Since my cooker gets very hot, I cook on low.  It's done after about 4 hours.  For beef bourg check Julia Child's recipe.  For beef stew, you might want to look at ATK's recipe/method.


Edited by Cerise - 1/21/14 at 9:35am
post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheesestix22 View Post
 

 Beef Bourg., beef stew (using labled 'stew meat')

 

It could be the meat itself. I've tried working with a package of "stew meat" from a reputable store once. Never again. The meat ended up tough and stringy no matter how I cooked it. Who knows what that meat is or where it comes from. For all we know those could be old dairy cows. I know in France sometimes in supermarket you find those package of stew meat, usually on sale, and they're meat from old dairy cows and no matter how you cook that meat, it'll stay tough. 

 

Next time, try buying a 2 or 3lbs piece of "chuck" from a reputable store in your area. You can either cook it whole or cube it first. Follow all the advice presented in this thread and you should end up with tender meat. 

 

Best of luck!

post #8 of 11

I think F.F. is on the right path.  "Stew meat" is just one tick above "regular ground beef" and is usually from a very lean cut like top round or sirloin tip.

 

Meat is graded according to "marbelling" or tiny threads/rays of fat interspaced in the meat.  This fat provides a quasi barrier around the meat, making the meat fibers smaller when it melts out.  A better quality of meat, even a tougher cut, like a sirloin tip will have some marbelling.

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #9 of 11

Alright hate to ask the obvious(and most likely stupid) question but are you cutting this meat correctly...

If you are buying meat and cutting at home , make sure to cut it against the grain.

 

Now i agree that it depends on cut and quality as stated by FF, and Foodpump. Along with the rest of the gang. 

 

You also stated you don´t tenderize or sear the meat, not saying thats a problem, because when im lazy neither do I, but again what cut are you using?

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Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

Dr.Seuss

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post #10 of 11

FF is absolutely right, the first thing is to look for the right cut of meat, that's simply a "conditio sine qua non".

 

In my own country we have packed cubes of meat in nearly all supermarkets as stews are very popular over here. Most of them are very good quality, but indeed, you have no indication what part of the animal is used. All I know is that no supermarket is looking to get itself out of the market by packing the wrong meat, especially when they sell tons of it weekly!

I know for a fact that over here, good stew meat comes from the front part of the animal, more specific the neck and shoulder area, which in your country should be "chuck". 

 

I even use those packed cubes to make chili con carne, which is also a simple stew. I cut the cubes quite small and let the meat also simmer for around 90 minutes. Comes out perfectly!

 

This batch dates from 29 December;

chili con carne

post #11 of 11

Start with chuck cut in cubes, brown, brown aromatics in the same pan, add liquids, meat and simmer until meat starts to get tender but not quite done then add veg and simmer until veg and meat are both tender. Some veg needs to be added sooner depending on what you are using. I find that carrots cut in coins about 1/4 inch thick will cook the same speed as potatoes cubed about 1 inch.

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