So I found this simple pot roast recipe here. I have cooked this plenty of times, but for some reason lately, the 'stew' or chuck roast beef is turning out to be too fatty (as it is labeled, it looks like this left picture here: enter image description here

Lately, I keep buying beef that turns out to so full of fat (even from different super markets) it is just disgusting. I normally would cook this beef in a slow cooker after briefly browning it in a cast iron skillet, and since almost no fat is rendered out, it would end up like eating a stick of butter (nothing about it tasted like beef).

Questions seeking Seasoned Advice: Are stew beef cuts not meant to be used in stews/pot roasts? If not then what is the ideal cut for pot roasts? Or is the super market selling bad beef?

  • Well, I already know what the problem is (too much fat in the beef). What I want to know is what is going on with why that is so. Why would a 'stew beef' cut not be good for stew? I can try rewording it.
    – Zombies
    Commented Feb 23, 2011 at 15:56
  • I initially mis-read it as saying "so full of rat"!
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Feb 23, 2011 at 21:53

5 Answers 5


"Stew beef" is slightly cheaper than buying a whole roast and cutting it up, because the stew beef is made up of bits and pieces that were left over after the prettier roasts had been carved.

If it's not to your taste, spring for a whole roast and cut it up yourself.

WARNING: Fat content in meat that is supposed to be cooked for a long time is a good thing. Keeps the meat from drying out. It's more efficient to simply cook the stew in advance, and then skim the rendered fat off the top, before you reheat it.

  • 5
    Cooking in advance and then skimming the fat and reheating has the additional advantage that most stews/braised meat preparations are better the second day! I actually prefer choosing fattier meat (such as second cut brisket) and cooking it in advance -- it is more tender and flavorful.
    – Martha F.
    Commented Feb 24, 2011 at 3:44

Generally speaking, fat in your beef is considered a good thing, as it carries a lot of flavor. The "laced inside and out" you mention in a comment is called "marbling" and again, it's generally sought after. I suspect some of the reaction you're getting is because you're rejecting meat that sounds pretty good to many of us, and rejecting it for the reason we think it sounds good.

As others have said, if you find it too fatty, trim what you can and make your stew, let it sit off the heat for a while, and then skim off the excess fat. You can also put the stew in the refrigerator overnight and just lift off the hardened fat in the morning.

Finally, if you really want beef stew meat that's lean, you need to stay away from cuts from the shoulder/chuck area. Stick with meat from the round (top round or bottom round), which tends to be much leaner. If you can't tell from the package of stew meat where it's from, then you'll need to buy a roast or other cut from the round and cut it up yourself.

  • The issue is that after I cook it, there is so much fat in it, the entire stew turns into a hard lump of solid fat when refrigerated. And there is almost no liquid in the stew at this point. This has only happened a few times lately. I did remove the top layer of fat as you said, but it just doesn't have that lean flavor/texture I like. So you bring up a good point that my taste/preference also plays a pretty big factor too.
    – Zombies
    Commented Feb 23, 2011 at 21:27

Not much of a question here, more of a rant. However, here is what I do to avoid all of this fatty stew beef...

Buy the chuck roast whole (I perfer the one with the '7' shped bone in it) and manually trim the outside fat and any other huge fat pockets when you dice it. When you go to brown it you have alreay reduced the fat so it should come out better.

If doing a little bit of butchering of your beef is too much for you I do believe they sell beef pot roast in cans.

  • Well, for not much of a question this is certainly a helpful answer to me, thanks.
    – Zombies
    Commented Feb 23, 2011 at 16:06
  • With whole chuck roasts I find it easiest to separate the sections of muscle along the major fat lines, removing most of the large chunks of fat in the process, then chunk the remaining mostly-lean portions.
    – timmyp
    Commented Feb 23, 2011 at 17:33

I think maybe you don't recognize what is in the pot and you're just assuming it's fat. First of all, cooking any cut of beef will produce a fairly good amount of water. But when you say the entire pot is full of fat and meat with no liquid, I suspect that what you're seeing is not fat at all but gelatin, which is a natural product of cooking any kind of meat, just as water is. The more skin and bones you have in the pot, the more gelatin you will get, but you will get some even if you're cooking boneless skinless meat and poultry. If it's the consistency of jello, it's gelatin and is harmless. If you're using meat that truly appears as the meat in the photo you posted, I assure you, you are NOT getting a pot full of fat. Next time, put it in the fridge overnight before eating it - I would be very surprised if you were able to skim off all but a tiny amount of fat.


I would suggest manually removing as much fat as possible before browning the meat.

  • There are chunks which have large visible portions of fat, and I do cut those off. But the problem is that the meat itself isn't lean, it is laced inside and out thoroughly with fat.
    – Zombies
    Commented Feb 23, 2011 at 16:02

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