Stew beef is often a butcher's special at the grocery store, but if you're not in the mood for stew, you may bypass it for a pricier cut. While it's true that the chunks of pre-cut meat are characteristically tougher than a sirloin or roast, cooking them in the slow cooker renders them tender. Stew meat isn't the only thing the chunks of meat are good for, and their convenient bite-size shape allows for the quick addition of beef to a variety of savory recipes.
An easy standby recipe is beef stroganoff. Originally a time-consuming Russian dish, its preparation can be streamlined with your slow cooker. Place a pound of stew beef into your slow cooker on low. Add a can of any cream soup and a cup of chopped canned mushrooms. Allow to cook on low for seven to eight hours. When you're ready to serve, boil egg noodles until tender and drain. Serve the beef and the cream sauce over the noodles.
Tin Foil Dinner
Tin foil dinners are typically camping fare, but you can make them easily in your own oven with pre-cut stew beef. One of the best parts of a tin foil dinner is that everyone gets his own variety. Lay a 1-foot-square piece of tin foil on the kitchen counter and place 5 or 6 pieces of beef in the center. Add a handful of your favorite vegetables; chopped potatoes and carrots work well. Finish with a squirt of barbecue or steak sauce, then fold the edges into a packet. Place the packets seam-side up on the middle oven rack at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for at least an hour.
Stew beef works well for kabobs, since it's often already cut into bite-sized cubes. Unfortunately, the meat can be tough. Place the cubes into an airtight container and cover with olive oil. Add your favorite kebab spices, like 1 tsp. of cumin or curry and 1 tsp. of red pepper flakes, along with a pinch of garlic powder and enough salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at four hours. Soak the skewers in water for 30 minutes, then slide on stew meat, peppers, mushrooms and onion before grilling.
Texas-style chili, a common dish in the Southern states, uses beef stew chunks instead of ground beef to lend the dish more meat and a more satisfying taste. You can add stew beef to any chili recipe that you enjoy; just substitute the stew beef for ground beef. Cooking the entire pot of chili in the slow cooker will yield more tender cuts of meat.