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What cut of beef should I use for a beef stew? I heard that you want a little bit of fat in the meat, but what part the animal is best to use?

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What are you going for with your stew? Do you want something slow-cooked and falling apart? Or something more quickly cooked, with chunks of beef that stay together and give you something to chew on? –  Jefromi Jan 21 '12 at 1:23
    
I ended up getting 1.75 lbs of some cut about 5 inches in diameter. It was wrapped in butcher's twine and had spikes of some hard fat tied to it. I used about a cup and a half of a young bordeaux that had some bite to it. I imagine that it will taste like crap unless I take my sweet time with it –  It Grunt Jan 21 '12 at 3:39
    
hmm interesting, but you don't know the cut? –  rfusca Jan 21 '12 at 3:48

2 Answers 2

Stew is a dish which is actually well suited for inferior cuts of beef. The 'quality' of superior cut is easily lost in a stew. The typical butcher's case will offer a collection of "stew meat" which is the fattier trimmings from various cuts. Marinade it in beer and then slow cook it and the meat will deliver great flavor for you.

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Stew beef from many major groceries chains isn't necessarily fatty trimmings and often makes terrible, TERRIBLE stew. Much more consistent to get something you see whole and cut it up yourself. –  rfusca Jan 21 '12 at 3:10
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@rfusca, good point, I don't include 'discount groceries' when I say the "typical butcher's case". I should clarify that I do mean in a quality meat market. When I take cattle to my butcher those trimmings is what ends up in the stew meat that I get. –  Cos Callis Jan 21 '12 at 11:25
    
All meat from "major groceries chains" is terrible, if not in the quality, in the entire process they use. Support a local butcher than slaughters their own beasts –  TFD Jan 21 '12 at 21:00
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Unfortunately many small town butchers are no longer there. Pretty much can only find butchers in the big cities these days. Sad but true. –  Brian Jan 22 '12 at 18:50

Assuming a long, cooked stew. I cut up a well marbled chuck steak usually and chuck is what I'd recommend. You want enough fat that as the stew cooks long, the fat will render and leave nice, tender meat. Too lean and you're left with boiled shoe leather.

If you want a quicker stew, use a leaner cut of meat like sirloin. It will have a lot of flavor but you shouldn't cook it long at all. A fatty cut in a short stew will end up very fatty and often tough (with a cheaper cut like chuck).

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