Beef stew meat is one of the least expensive cuts of beef and can be used in many different recipes calling for beef. Stew meat usually comes from tougher parts of the cow and needs to be well-cooked to become tender. Cooking with stew meat adds protein and great flavor to your recipes. Try using stew meat in kebabs and stir-fries, as well as in soups and stew to make simple and delicious meals.

Selecting Stew Meat

Stew meat is easy to use in any recipe calling for diced or cubed beef, since it is often purchased pre-cut. It's normally cut from the cow's upper leg or butt, also referred to as the "chuck," and is generally tougher than other cuts, such as tenderloin or sirloin. There are two very simple ways to cook stew meat to make it tender and delicious: Cook it in a stew, or stir fry it. You can also marinate the meat to make easy kebabs on the grill.

Beef Stews

To make a simple beef stew, which will render the beef very tender, begin by selecting the freshest meat possible. If you have a butcher near you, start there. Otherwise look in your natural food stores, or groceries that have a fresh meat deli. You want to choose meat that is red in color. Cut it into one inch chunks if it is not pre-cut.

You can cook the beef in a slow cooker if you have one, or in a large stock pot. Slow cookers are great for cooking tougher cuts of meat since they cook the meat for longer at a lower temperature, preventing the meat from drying out. Add the meat, some vegetables and and herbs or spices to the slow cooker. Cover the meat and vegetables entirely with water or stock to ensure a proper cooking temperature and cook until the beef reaches 160 degrees.

You can also cook stew on the stove top. Start by browning the beef in a bit of oil to bring out the flavor. You can dredge the beef in flour first which will help thicken the stew. Brown the pieces over medium heat, stirring often, then quickly add in stock or water and vegetables. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour. Add more liquid as necessary.

Experiment with flavors. For example, if you want a chili, add in tomatoes, onions and chili powder. You can make an Irish stew by adding a bottle of Guinness and a few cubed potatoes to the stew.

Other Simple Stew Meat Ideas

To make stir fry or kebabs, start by marinating the meat for at least four hours, or overnight. You can make a simple marinade with soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, ginger and garlic. The vinegar also helps to tenderize the meat.

For kebabs, soak some bamboo skewers, or use metal skewers and pierce pieces of meat. Preheat a grill and grill on one side for six to eight minutes, turn and cook another six to eight minutes, or until done.

To make a stir fry, preheat skillet or wok over medium heat with about 1/4 cup of oil. Remove meat from marinade and brown the stew meat. Add vegetables such as carrots, pea pods or bamboo shoots, and saute for another four minutes or so, until vegetables are tender. Serve over rice.