Best Cuts Of Meat For Stew

Few things are more filling and more heartily enjoyable than a steaming bowl of deep warming beef stew. The kicker is that stew is actually not very difficult to make, all you really have to do is chop up some ingredients — traditionally, potatoes, carrots, and meat — turn on the stove, and wait. Cooking it low and slow is the key. 

But what cuts of meat are best for a beef stew? There's so much meat and so many different qualities to beef that the variety makes it difficult to navigate what would make a good and hearty stew and what would be amenable to a low-and-slow cooking approach.

Well, as so many culinary questions are answered, we turn to science. Stews can cook for a very long time so in order to be able to withstand such heat over such time, the meats that are used must be as robust raw as they are tasty cooked.

Stewin' on the science of meats and stew

According to Serious Eats, for the best stew meat, you should look for tough cuts that are lean and high in collagen. Healthline states that collagen is a type of protein found in animals that provides structure of muscles, ligaments, and other connective tissue. As a rule, the more a muscle is used, the more collagen it contains; for instance, the tenderloin (or the classic filet) comes from the back of the cow just below its spine, an area that doesn't get a lot of use during the cattle's life, which leaves it without a high level of collagen. 

Collagen-heavy meats are desirable for stews because they can withstand the long, hot cooking process without completely breaking down, thus still maintaining shape and taste. Collagen also, when cooked slowly, can turn into a gelatin-like substance that acts as a flavor booster and binder that seeps into the broth and the other ingredients of your stew, per The Spruce Eats.

The cuts of meat that work best for beef stew

Now that we've picked out why certain cuts are better than others when cooking beef stew, let's see what actually works best.

According to MasterClass, chuck, sirloin, and brisket come from the shoulder, lower back, and front chest of the cow respectively — all areas that see a lot of usage and are therefore strong muscles and decently tough meats. These cuts can just be cubed and cooked very simply and be absolutely delicious.

Bone-in short rib and oxtail are two other cuts of meat that can work very well in stews, according to Serious Eats, although they may tend to be more expensive due to their low availability. Usually sold with the bone in, these cuts can impart delicious flavors and a bit more gelatin than the other three boneless cuts listed before.

All these cuts, though, can produce amazing beef stews and are a must-try for your lowest, slowest, solidest stew.