When it comes to Sunday dinner in America, there’s nothing quite as classic as stew. Of course, it doesn’t matter what day of the week, stew makes a delicious dinner any day of the week. This meal is full of nostalgia and is always the best choice for large family dinners or special occasion dinners.
Despite being hailed as a classic American Sunday dinner, the crockpot originated in Europe, with its roots in peasant cooking. It’s made by slow cooking a tough cut of beef, usually in a liquid such as broth or wine, until it’s tender and flavorful. Stew’s origins date back to the Middle Ages, when peasants would cook tough pieces of meat in pots with vegetables and liquid for a hearty meal. Over time, the dish evolved to become a popular comforting meal in many European countries and eventually made its way to the United States as a much-loved comfort food.
Best Cuts for Beef Stew
When it comes to stews, using the correct cut of beef is key to creating a tender and flavorful dish. Some of the best beef stew cuts include chuck roast, round roast, and brisket. These cuts of beef have just the right ratio of fat and connective tissue to break down during the slow cooking process, resulting in a tender and flavorful dish.
Chuck roast, also known as chuck shoulder roast, comes from the shoulder region of cattle and is a well-marbled meat with a lot of fat and connective tissue. This makes it ideal for slow-cooking methods like stews, as the fat and connective tissue break down during cooking, resulting in a tender, succulent dish.
A round roast, also known as a rump roast, is another great option for stews. It comes from the hind quarters of a cow, which is leaner compared to roasts. While it may not be as tender as a roast, it’s still a good choice for stews because the slow-cooking method helps break down connective tissue and tenderize the meat.
Brisket is another great beef for stews. It comes from the brisket, or lower breast, of the cow and is known for its rich flavor and tenderness. Brisket is a tougher cut of meat, but the slow-cooking method of the stew helps break down the connective tissue, making the meat tender and juicy.
- Chuck Roast – Tender, falls apart when done and shreds easily
- Round Roast (round bottom, round top) – lean and easy to slice
- Beef Brisket – a fattier option that becomes super tender but still sliceable
When making stews, you can use many different vegetables to add flavor and nutrition to your dish. Some popular choices include carrots, onions, potatoes, and celery. Carrots add a sweet and earthy flavor to this dish and can be sliced and added to the pot with the beef. The onions add depth and richness of flavor to the stew and can be sliced and added to the pot with the beef. Potatoes add a starchy and satisfying element to this dish and can be quartered and added to the pot along with the beef. Celery adds a crisp and slightly bitter flavor to this dish and can be sliced and added to the pot with the beef. Other vegetables that can be used in stews include radishes, parsnips, and mushrooms.
Slow Cooker Instructions
Season the roast with salt and pepper as directed in Step 2 of the recipe. Frying in a frying pan is an optional step. Searing roast beef helps the fat harden and lock in moisture, so it’s worth the extra time and dish. But we also recognize that one of the benefits of using a slow cooker is the short prep time so you can put everything in there. Place roasted or unroasted meats directly into the slow cooker. Add all remaining ingredients and cook on low for 8 hours.
Pro tip: It’s best to cook stew on low rather than high. Your meat will be tender and delicious every time.
Instant Pot Instructions
Follow this recipe as directed, but instead of searing and searing the roast in a large pot, do all of this in a pressure cooker. Sear the meat using the sear setting on the electric pressure cooker as directed in step 2. Cook the garlic, deglaze the pan with the liquid, and add the vegetables. High pressure cook for 60 minutes, then natural release for 15 minutes. Then, switch the release valve to the exhaust position. After the steam stops, remove the lid.
Pro tip: The natural release part of electric pressure cooking is an important step. We’ve found that if you release the pressure right after cooking, your beef may be tough. Letting the pressure cooker rest for 15 minutes during the natural release phase will produce a more tender result.