There’s nothing like homemade beef stew on a cold winter day. If mom’s house is too far away, it’s time to learn how to make this comfort food yourself. The key to the best beef stew ever is making the stew meat as tender as possible. Here’s how.
Things You'll Need
Place a whole beef chuck piece on a clean cutting board.
Lay a piece of plastic wrap over top of the meat.
Using a meat mallet, pound on the meat firmly through the plastic wrap. This breaks up the connective tissue and muscle fibers that make the meat tough.
Cut the meat into even chunks to use in the stew.
For a basic steak marinade, combine 1/4 cup soy sauce, 3 tablespoons minced garlic, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon onion powder in a bowl.
Tip: You can use a variety of seasonings to make a tenderizing marinade as long as one of the ingredients is acidic—in this case, it’s soy sauce. The acid helps to tenderize the meat by relaxing the proteins on the surface and allowing the meat to absorb flavors.
Pour the marinade into a ziplock bag. Add the stew meat, seal the bag, and place it in the refrigerator for 4 to 8 hours. Turn the bag occasionally to ensure even distribution of the marinade.
Remove the stew meat from the marinade and prepare to cook it. (Throw away the remaining marinade; it’s not safe to reuse.)
Heat oil in a sauce pan over low heat. (You can also use a Dutch oven or a slow cooker, depending on your preference.) Add the meat and sear all sides until browned. Searing helps to caramelize the proteins and seal in moisture, which makes the meat tender.
Add a cup of water, beef stock, or other cooking liquid to the pan.
Simmer the stew meat in the liquid about 2 hours, covered. To make beef stew, add chunks of potatoes, carrots, and celery, and season to your liking.