5 Mistakes to Avoid When Making Beef Stew

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Making Beef Stew

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Kelli Foster
Jan 14, 2015
(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

As the temperatures keep dropping lower and lower all I want to do is spend my nights cozied up with a giant bowl of hearty beef stew. It's a classic comfort food, and the perfect dinner to warm up with during the winter.

Filled with tender cubes of meat and hearty vegetables, beef stew is a staple dish and we want to make sure you're tackling it like a pro. Here are five common mistakes to avoid when you cook up your next pot of stew.

1. Using the wrong cut of meat

Beef is beef, right? Wrong! Stew is the ideal time to skip the lean, pricier cuts of meat and go for the less expensive, tougher cuts. The long, slow cook time leaves lean meat, like sirloin, tough and chewy, while tougher cuts, like chuck, break down and become really tender.

→ Follow this tip: Stick with using chuck meat. As it cooks, this cut breaks down wonderfully and rewards you with tender, delicious bites. Bonus points — chuck meat is also budget friendly!

2. Not searing the meat

Whatever you do, don't just add raw meat to broth and expect it to make stew. Also, when browning, don't stop at lightly browning the cubes. Searing the meat is an essential step for making a great beef stew. This is where the stew really starts to build its deep, rich, flavor.

→ Follow this tip: No, if, ands, or buts, you've got to sear the meat! Don't just brown it. Set the cubes of beef in a hot pan and let them cook for a few minutes until the bottom has a dark crust, then repeat that process for the other sides of the meat. It's timely, but you'll be rewarded with an extra flavorful stew.

3. Adding the vegetables too soon

Vegetables cook a lot quicker than beef, so there's no reason to add them to the pot at the same time. Add them too soon, and you'll be left with mushy (and unappetizing) veggies.

→ Follow this tip: Add hearty vegetables, like carrots, turnips, and potatoes halfway through cooking. If you plan to include delicate vegetables, like peas, wait to add them until a few minutes before taking the stew off the heat.

4. Not cooking the stew long enough

Chuck meat is your best bet for beef stew, but it's also a pretty tough cut so it needs time to break down and become tender. Rush the cooking process and the beef will be tough and chewy.

→ Follow this tip: For really tender meat, cook the stew low and slow, for approximately two hours.

5. Serving your stew solo

Don't make your stew stand alone. Without bread or noodles how will you mop up the bottom of the bowl?

→ Follow this tip: Serve stew along with egg noodles, polenta, or a thick-cut baguette.

What are your best tips for making beef stew?

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