Jayden Lawson
Published by Jayden Lawson
Last Updated On: December 8, 2022

I’ve been a carnivore lifestyle devotee for a decade, and I’ve cooked countless stews over this time.

It hasn’t always been easy because I had to pick up all the ins and outs of meat tenderization depending on the kind of meat I was handling.

Today, I’ll share my tips and tricks on making the stew meat tender so that you can achieve juicy results in no time.

Quick Summary

  • There are four ways you can tenderize your stew meat.
  • You should buy tough meats for a stew, such as a chuck steak, rump roast, brisket, and more.
  • The best cooking method for beef stew is slow cooking on low heat.

4 Best Ways to Tenderize Stew Meat

These are the four best ways to tenderize stew meat.

1. Braise

An image of braising meat in a pot

Braising is a great meat tenderizer. This is a slow cooking method in a little water. The temperature should be low enough so the collagen in the meat breaks down but high enough to kill any microorganisms.

You can braise the meat on a stovetop or an oven. If you decide to braise the meat on a stovetop, you should sear or brown it first to avoid the meat having a gray look. Cook the meat on the stovetop for two hours at 180 to 190 degrees.

If you braise the stew meat in the oven, preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Put the meat in one layer in a roasting pan with a lid. Season as desired, and add half a cup of water or beef broth to the pan. Put the lid on, and cook for two hours.

Tip: Check if there’s enough liquid every half hour, and add more if needed. There should always be liquid in the bottom of the pan.

Overall, this is a slow cooking process, no matter if you opt for braising in the oven or stovetop. The meat needs time for the collagen to melt, so you have tender meat.

2. Marinade

The marinade is another way to get tender beef chunks. You should use a marinade with an acid content, for example, vinegar, lemon, lime, yogurt, wine, buttermilk, or tomato juice.

Acid breaks down the collagen in the meat fibers and makes the tough meat tender.

After marinating, you can cook the beef stew with any method you prefer. However, keep in mind too much marinade in a slow-cooking stew will take longer to tenderize meat. For example, use wine to deglaze, but wait to add lemon, lime, or tomato juice, towards the end of the cooking process.

“Marinade the meat in a Worcestershire sauce if you plan to sear. Another option is red wine because red wine breaks down connective tissues. Be careful with vinaigrettes as they cook the food on the outside a little and give it a gray color that we don’t like.”
- Cooking Guide, YouTube Channel

If you have more time, marinate overnight. Acids take time to penetrate the meat; the process will take longer if you add oils or sugar. Marinating overnight is especially good if you have a thick cut of meat.

Meat cuts that should be marinated include chuck meat, skirt, sirloin, round, and flank.

3. Sear

An image of seared beef on a pan

You can also sear raw meat in a tablespoon of oil on medium-high heat. Use a heavy skillet, and sear until the beef becomes brown on all sides. Your meat should have a dark brown crust and a glaze over the bottom of the pan.

Tip: Don’t put too much meat in the pot when searing. It should be hot enough to avoid stewing the meat when searing. Stick to a single layer of meat, and sear in small batches.

Cook meat for about two hours in a Dutch oven on a low simmer after searing.

4. Pound the Meat

The final way to tenderize stew meat is to use a meat mallet. Pounding the meat breaks down the connective tissues, so the fibers can’t make the meat chewy.

Note: Pounding is a good way to tenderize larger meat cuts. If you have traditional cube-shaped meat for stew, skip this step and use a marinade or braising method.

If you aren’t sure what’s the correct serving size, the USDA states you should have a third of a pound for a rib eye and sirloin tip roast per person [1].

Which Meat to Use for Stew?

An image of raw beef chuck meat

You should use tough cuts of meat for stew. Chuck and round are most commonly used for boiled beef stew. These are also among the most affordable options.

In theory, you can use any kind of beef for stew. But tougher cuts of meat result in a tender stew. These cuts have more collagen and more marbling, which means more fat in the connective tissue.

When you cook the beef cubes in a Dutch oven or a slow cooker, the connective tissue breaks down, and collagen transforms into gelatin, which results in tender and juicy beef stew meat.

Pro tip: Get the meat from hardworking muscles on the cow, such as the leg, for the most tender results.

Cuts of meat best used for a stew are:

FAQs

How Do You Make Beef Stew Soft and Tender?

You make beef stew soft and tender with a low and slow cooking process. Stew meat is tough and needs time to break down, which is why you should cook it in a slow cooker without rushing the process.

How Do You Fix Tough Stew Meat?

You fix tough stew meat by braising, marinading, searing, or pounding the meat.

Does Boiling Stew Meat Make it Tender?

Yes, boiling stew meat makes it tender. Boiling will result in firm meat that doesn’t fall apart but it’s tender. This is a great cooking method if you want juicy and not shredded meat in your stew.

How Should You Tenderize Your Stew Meat?

You can tenderize stew meat in different ways. Braise the meat, marinade it overnight, sear to get brown bits, or pound if you have a large cut.

Make sure to get tough cuts, as these taste the best in a stew.

No matter which tenderizing option you go for, make sure to buy quality cuts. We’ve tried countless meat deliveries and come up with the 11 best meat delivery services. Each of these sells high-quality meat for your stew. Moreover, you can choose between regular beef and game meat. Choose your supplier and make a delicious stew.


References:

  1. https://naldc.nal.usda.gov/download/CAT87214682/PDF
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