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Choose chuck for the best beef stew

Fine Cooking Issue 84
Molly Stevens, contributing editor.
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One of the best cuts of beef for making beef stew is chuck. Chuck comes from the well-exercised shoulder and upper foreleg of the steer, so it has lots of tough connective tissue and sinew, a quality that makes it unsuitable for dry-heat, short-cooking methods like grilling and sautéing. But slow, moist, gentle cooking (stewing or braising) transforms the toughness into delectable fork-tenderness and rich flavor.

So when you go to shop for the Beef Stew with Red Wine and Carrots recipe, you know you want chuck. But the chuck is a big part of the steer—it accounts for more than 25% of the animal—and it consists of several different muscles, each with its own characteristics affecting texture and cooking times.

Look for these labels

At the market, you’ll have a choice of cuts from the chuck, and some are better for stews than others. To avoid confusion, head to the store with this list. Cuts labeled with any of these terms will give you a stew with more uniform texture and great flavor:

  • Top blade
  • Blade
  • Flat iron
  • Shoulder
  • 7-bone roast (named after the 7-shaped blade bone)
  • Chuck short ribs (purchase extra since they’re fattier and need heavy trimming).


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