Stew meat are lean chunks of beef or pork usually cut from the tougher parts of the animal. The meat may be sold in large pieces or pre-cut into small cubes. Because the meat is lean and often chewy, dry roasting it in the oven will only make it tougher. Cooking it slowly in liquid, instead, helps tenderize the meat.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut larger pieces of meat into 1- to 2-inch cubes. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat a heavy skillet or Dutch oven over high heat on the stove top. When the skillet is hot enough that a drop of water dances across the surface, add a thin layer of oil. Sear the meat until brown on all sides. Don't crowd the pan; cook in batches if necessary. When the meat is browned, remove it from the pan and add aromatic vegetables, such as onion, celery and garlic, to the pot and stir-fry until the onion is translucent.
Move the meat back to the pot and add broth, wine, beer, tomato juice or other flavorful liquid to barely cover the meat. Bring to a simmer.
Cover the skillet or Dutch oven and place it in the preheated oven. Check the meat periodically, adding more liquid as needed to prevent the meat from drying out. Test the meat for tenderness after 2 to 3 hours. Once the meat is done, an additional half-hour of cooking in liquid will make it more tender.
Things You'll Need
Heavy skillet or Dutch oven with lid
Salt and pepper
Broth, wine or other liquid
Aromatics, like onion, garlic and celery
For a complete meal in a pot, add potatoes, carrots or other desired vegetables during the last 45 minutes of cooking.
Use oven mitts when handling the hot skillet or Dutch oven.