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I'm making beef stew in a cast iron dutch oven for the first time. I have some stewing meat, and have oiled the bottom of the dutch oven.

The problem is my cast iron dutch oven is a small size, so that the meat was a bit crowded. Still I made sure that all the sides looked brown.

My question is when people "brown" beef stew or cubed beef for stews. Is this actually really cooking it, or is it more for a searing flavor?

Taste aside, will my beef be safe to eat if I leave it on low simmering for 2 hours (is "simmer" even enough to cook it?). I'm using 2 hours because that's what the stew seasoning told me to do.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Yes, a simmer will be on the order of 180 to 200 F (82 - 93 C) which is a safe temperature for cooking and holding stew.

Browning beef does cook it, but usually not all the way through as that is not the point; instead it is to develop the flavors. The full cooking is done during the braising or stewing stage while you simmer it. This also allows the collagen to hydrate into gelatin, creating the tender texture of well cooked stew meat.

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Ah ok, then I should be ok then. It was browned around the edges. I put it on the oven at Number 1 or 2 (so that should be a simmer) –  Mercfh Jun 26 '13 at 17:22
    
I don't know what the numbers mean, but braising or stewing in the oven, you want a temperature of about 350 F (180 C). –  SAJ14SAJ Jun 26 '13 at 17:39
    
I meant on the stove, not in the oven my bad. –  Mercfh Jun 27 '13 at 12:40
    
Ah... well, still no idea what numbers mean for stove top burners, but the oven is a fantastic option for stews and braises of all sorts--its my preferred way. –  SAJ14SAJ Jun 27 '13 at 12:48
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