Stewing is a moist heat cooking process much like braising except that the meat is totally immersed in liquid rather than being only partially immersed as it is with braising. Another difference is that the meat used for stewing is usually cut into smaller pieces rather than being left as one large piece. Many of the same cuts that are suitable for braising are ideal as stew meat. Beef cuts from the round, flank, and plate are often used and in addition, meat from the shank, which is very tough, is best when it is cooked in stews.
Beef stew is a dish that is often prepared with tougher cuts of beef that have been cut into small pieces. The chunks of beef are browned on all sides in a large pot using a small amount of oil. After the meat is browned, it is removed from the pan and chopped vegetables, such as carrots, onions, celery and potatoes are added and quickly seared. Some recipes call for chopped tomatoes to be added as well. Any vegetables that are not suitable for a long cooking time should not be added until the last 20 to 40 minutes of the cooking process. Herbs and spices are added and a generous quantity of water. The browned pieces of beef are returned to the pan. After the liquid has been brought to a boil, the heat is turned down and the pan is covered. As the ingredients slowly cook, the liquid becomes thicker and very flavorful from the combination of the various ingredients. Fat and impurities are skimmed from the surface periodically during the cooking process to ensure that the stew is not too high in it's fat content and to provide for better flavor.
|Note: If beef stew is a bit too salty, an easy remedy is to add a few more pieces of chopped potato or tomato to help soak up some of the saltiness.|