Who can help me solve my stew troubles, please?

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Joined Mar 13, 2018
Hi, I am new to the forums but have been really enjoying the level of detail and attention everyone is sharing on here!
I started cooking last year and have found an enjoyment and knack for creating various styles of dishes. I love international cuisines! and I've fallen in love with spices and seasonings, and with presentation.
I have cooked all sorts of exciting recipes.
One thing that is driving me up the walls, is my inability to produce tender meat in a stew dish, no matter what I do. I have tried at least a dozen times - different cuts (chuck, shin, ossobucco, sirloin, shoulder - the only time i had slight success was with a very fatty beef rib), I tried all different recipes - with white wine, with red, without any wine - and different tempratures - some advise simmering a medium amount of time, some advise a very low heat in the oven for a very long time, some say bring to a boil and then simmer for a few hours etc.
THE PROBLEM IS - after i brown the meat, sitting on the plate before going back in the stew, it is nice and tender. Once I put it back in the liquid, within 15-30 minutes of cooking time - it is tough as a rock and gets tougher and tougher wheather i leave it in for a long time, or take it out, reduce the heat or increase it, nothing helps at this point. It usually gets tough within the first 15-30 minutes.
I follow recipes down to the T. I have tried expensive and cheap cuts of meat. I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong, can anyone please advise...?
Thank you,
 

kuan

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Staff member
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Joined Jun 11, 2001
If the liquid in the meat boils then it will become tough. Doing a stew on the stove top with the normal stew cuts is difficult because you cannot control the heat very well. You can put it in a heavy pan, lid it, and put it in the oven at 350, or, use a crock pot.
 
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Never let it boil, especially near the beginning. This is crucial.

Check often. Depending on the size and the cut, it could be done in as little as 30 minutes.
 
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I think you should buy better or different meat. Assuming you are making a beef stew, but a large cut of beef, say a chuck, and cut it into large chunks yourself. Then proceed to brown and cook.

I find that the generic "stew beef" at most grocery stores if woefully inconsistent.

You are also most likely not cooking it long enough. If you take a tough cut of meat like a chuck, it cam sometimes take a few hours until it is fork tender. For a stew you want to take it to a point where it is tender but not falling apart to the point it shreds like pulled pork.

Post some of your recipes and we might be better able to help.
 
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I agree with the others. I am a very lucky boy as I was taught how to stew by Rupert Rowley (1 Michelin Star at Fischer's, Peak District). You sauté to get the colour, remove, soften the veg (add flour now if not using a beurre marnie later), deglaze, add the meat back and drop the heat. Add warm stock and wine in even proportions, add the aromatics. If you boil this, then you will toughen the meat. You need to just reach a simmer and then go very low for 2h for beef. Or you can go 150˚C in the oven if you cooked the stew in stove-to-ovenware like Le Creuset cast iron. In all honesty though, in a domestic kitchen like mine, I get everything ready as before, and then tip it into an auto slow cooker on auto for a day. This is also the way I do curries. The result with the meat is sublime.
 
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Joined Jun 27, 2012
Bring the stock to a gentle boil then reduce heat to a simmer and add the meat.
Don't be discouraged if it seizes and becomes tough during the first part of the cooking process.
If you are using a fairly good cut/grade it will relax at some point...just be patient.

mimi
 
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Joined Mar 13, 2018
Thank you all SO MUCH for your thoughts and time taken to write them. I'll be retrying my recipes this weekend with your advice and let's see if I can make it happen. Dreaming of fork tender meat,,,,,
 
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For long cooking as in Osso Bucco, Stew, etc. you want a cut with a lot of collagen in it - working meat in other words. Never let it boil either - just a gentile simmer, a few bubbles at a time. you can do it - I made venison shank fall off the bone last weekend - the toughest part of the animal.

Raymond Blanc has a very good series on slow cookery. You can watch a lot of it on Youtube, or BBC links.
 
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Joined Mar 21, 2008
Low and slow is your friend when making any tough cut of meat. Be it braising for a stew, BBQ, roasting... as mentioned, barely a simmer until it gets tender. I start by browning in my dutch oven, add onions and garlic and cook those to deglaze the pan, add stock/other liquids and bring to a simmer. Cook until meat just starts to show signs of getting tender then add your veg to cook. Carrots can take longer so I add them earlier, potatoes cubed take ~ 20 minutes so I add them later.

Experiment, get a feel for it, cooking is part art and part science and the art part is getting timing down! Took me a few tries to get it right when I was learning to cook!
 
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I'll add this about learning to cook - learn to use your nose and ears. Smell and listen - get those down and they will serve you well.
 
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I swear by my slow-cooker. Do stew in there, 5+ hours fall apart tender meat

Hi, I am new to the forums but have been really enjoying the level of detail and attention everyone is sharing on here!
I started cooking last year and have found an enjoyment and knack for creating various styles of dishes. I love international cuisines! and I've fallen in love with spices and seasonings, and with presentation.
I have cooked all sorts of exciting recipes.
One thing that is driving me up the walls, is my inability to produce tender meat in a stew dish, no matter what I do. I have tried at least a dozen times - different cuts (chuck, shin, ossobucco, sirloin, shoulder - the only time i had slight success was with a very fatty beef rib), I tried all different recipes - with white wine, with red, without any wine - and different tempratures - some advise simmering a medium amount of time, some advise a very low heat in the oven for a very long time, some say bring to a boil and then simmer for a few hours etc.
THE PROBLEM IS - after i brown the meat, sitting on the plate before going back in the stew, it is nice and tender. Once I put it back in the liquid, within 15-30 minutes of cooking time - it is tough as a rock and gets tougher and tougher wheather i leave it in for a long time, or take it out, reduce the heat or increase it, nothing helps at this point. It usually gets tough within the first 15-30 minutes.
I follow recipes down to the T. I have tried expensive and cheap cuts of meat. I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong, can anyone please advise...?
Thank you,
 
2,486
1,096
Joined Jan 8, 2010
I would say that you just didn't cook it long enough.
I make all my stews and curries on the stove top and it's just a matter of time. I use a slow boil, but my staff (when cooking for themselves) cook at the highest heat possible and it all gets tender as well.
If you find it takes to long, you could consider a pressure cooker or slow cooker. Both work, although in opposite ways.
Almost all indians here use pressure cookers for their curries.

Just buy meat that is not too lean. Shin is lovely, chuck, blade, all work well. Fillet doesn't :)
 
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Geez, suddenly I forget how long in the crock pot suddenly, but in the oven at 325F and it sits for 3.5hrs, and it bubbles some. Regardless of the meat it is soft at the end. Typically I will only use pot roast, I mean that is the best, but if ordinary chuck is on sale I'll always go for that.
 
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