Making beef chunks tender requires using low heat in a slow cooker or searing the meat in a heavy skillet in liquid. You can also use a meat tenderizer to create a less chewy meat. Although less popular than a thick cut of meat, tender beef chunks work in stews, stroganoffs and casseroles.
You can use a meat mallet to pound the beef chunks to tenderize them. Also, cooking them in liquid on a stovetop or in a slow cooker can make them moist and easy to cut with nothing but a fork.
Long Cooking Method
To begin the long cooking method to make meat beef chunks tender, you will need a few kitchen tools and ingredients:
- Meat mallet
- Marinade ingredients
- Heavy skillet or slow cooker
- Vegetable oil
- Chopped onion
- Minced garlic
- Flour or cornstarch
- Your favorite type of cooking liquid
According to a May 2018 study in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, meat tenderness is one of the most important factors in consumers' choice of meat. But you can help create extra tenderness to beef chunks, which are cut from strong parts of the cow, by cooking them slowly over low heat and adding your favorite broth or another type of liquid.
This long cooking method keeps the chunks moist and delicate while breaking down the tendons that make the meat chewy. According to the American Meat Science Association, when moist heat gets applied to the meat, the collagen is transformed into a gel and muscle softens.
Cook Tender Beef Chunks
You don't need a skilled culinary background to cook meat that breaks apart with nothing but a fork. To cook tender beef chunks, follow these culinary tips:
- Pound the beef chunks with a meat mallet. Pounding tenderizes
the meat by breaking connective tissues and long muscle fibers that make the
meat chewy. For traditional cube shapes of meat, skip this step or pound a
larger piece of meat before cutting the cubes. (For proper serving size, the USDA states that you should allow about a third of a pound for a ribeye, boneless rump and sirloin tip roast per person.)
- Marinate beef chunks overnight in a marinade containing acidic
ingredients such as wine or a flavored vinegar, olive oil and seasoned with
herbs such as herbs de Provence, garlic, rosemary, sage or black pepper. Or try this LIVESTRONG.com recipe for Fresh Mango Marinade.
- Sear the beef chunks quickly in a tablespoon of oil over
medium-high heat in a heavy skillet until browned. Avoid over-crowding the pot, as you want to keep it hot to avoid stewing the meat.
- Cover the meat with broth, consommé (a clear soup made from
flavored stock), red wine or other flavorful liquid. Bring the liquid to a
simmer, then lower the heat and simmer covered for two to three hours to make tender
beef stew on the stove. Alternately, transfer the meat and cooking liquid to a slow cooker set on low for eight hours. Add a chopped onion and minced garlic to the
pot for extra flavor.
- Add vegetables during the last hour of cooking to make stew, if
desired. Potatoes, carrots and other root vegetables are nice additions. You can even use frozen or canned vegetables, which can be as nutritious as the fresh types, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Thicken the cooking liquid, if desired, with a mixture of flour
or cornstarch and water. Add the mixture while stirring and continue to cook
until all raw flour taste is gone and the gravy is thick.
- Try something new, if desired. For a different take on meat recipes, try recipes with beef cubes and potatoes such as our Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie recipe in which you can substitute beef for lamb.
- American Meat Science Association: "Cooking"
- USDA: "How to Buy Beef Roasts"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "How to Use Fruits and Vegetables to Help Manage Your Weight"
- Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety: "Applied and Emerging Methods for Meat Tenderization: A Comparative Perspective"