How to Make Stew Meat Tender

By Zora Hughes

There's nothing like homemade beef stew on a cold winter day. If you can't get to your mom's house for the best beef stew in the world, don't be afraid to learn how to make the dish yourself. The key to a tasty beef stew is making the stew meat as tender as possible, which can be achieved in a variety of ways.


Mallet Tenderizing

Place a whole beef chuck piece on a clean cutting board.

Cover the meat with a layer of plastic wrap. Do not wrap up the the entire piece of meat, just lay a piece of plastic on top of it.

Pound on the meat firmly through the plastic wrap using a meat mallet.This pounding action breaks up the tough connective tissue and muscle fibers that make the meat tough.

Cut the meat into even chunks to use in the stew.

Marinade the Meat

Combine 1/4 cup soy sauce, 3 tbsp. minced garlic, 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp. garlic powder and 1/2 tsp. onion powder in a bowl. This makes a basic steak marinade, but you can use a variety of seasonings to make a tenderizing marinade as long as one of the ingredients is acidic, which in this example is the soy sauce. The acid helps to tenderize the meat by relaxing the proteins on the meat's surface and allowing the meat to absorb flavors.

Pour the marinade in a ziptop plastic bag. Add the stew meat and place in the refrigerator for four to eight hours. Turn the bag occasionally to ensure even distribution of the marinade.

Remove the stew meat from the marinade. Throw away the remaining marinade; it is not safe to reuse. Cook the marinated stew meat as you planned.

Slow Braise

Sear the stew meat in a sauce pan coated with olive oil on low heat until all sides are browned. Searing helps to caramelize the proteins in the meat and seal in moisture, which makes the meat tender. You can also choose a dutch oven or a slow cooker, depending upon your preference.

Add a cup of water, beef stock or other cooking liquid to the pan.

Simmer the stew meat in the liquid for about three hours, covered. To make beef stew, add chunks of potatoes, carrots and celery, and season to your liking.