what is the best cut of beef for slow cooking?

(47 Posts)
MooMinCow Sun 30-Oct-11 22:55:47

really fancy a beef stew this week, but everytime I've made one in the slow cooker it's come out dry and chewy. I normally buy the stewing steak/beef from the supermarket and cook on low for 6-8 hours - am I using the wrong cut? have tried marinating, browning, not browning, but still not tender! (have no problem with lamb, curry comes out lovely!)

Am prepared to go to a butcher if it means my stew is tender enough to eat with spoon (dribble).

bigscarymum Sun 30-Oct-11 23:03:01

We had a yummy beef stew cooked in the slow cooker today. It was 2/3 stewing steak and 1/3 skirt (not sure what the difference is). I coated it in flour and browned it first. It was delicious and not a bit dry. Drool. And enough left over for tomorrow grin

snice Sun 30-Oct-11 23:11:03

shin beef from a proper butcher-it has fat marbled through it so cooks properly. Supermarket beef is usually much too lean

PigletJohn Sun 30-Oct-11 23:11:36

Brisket pot-roast (with root vegs but NO LIQUID)


BertieBotts Sun 30-Oct-11 23:12:11

If you have that, snice, does it not taste fatty?

Deuce Sun 30-Oct-11 23:12:34

You are coking it for too long. 4 to a max of 6 hours.

PamSco Sun 30-Oct-11 23:15:31

I'd say brisket too. I cut the fat out though and cook with tomatoes and red wine as a basic, if I want a different flavour I'll add cumin & chilli for a spicy mexican (ok I know cumin isn't exactly mexican but it goes great with lime) or basil at the end for an italian taste.

PamSco Sun 30-Oct-11 23:16:25

Should have added I cook on low in a slow cooker for c8-11 hours depending on length of working day.

snice Sun 30-Oct-11 23:17:21

no not fatty-it doesn't have big chunks of fat just marbling

BecauseImAWerewolefIt Sun 30-Oct-11 23:22:23

Shin of beef, definitely.

Unfortunately the supermarkets rarely label the meat in terms of where it comes from, so you will see 'braising' or 'stewing' steak. Stewing steak is what you want. If it's shin, you should be able to see the piece - it is in a round, with the fat around the outside, as if it were a cross-section through the leg.

You only need to trim the fat off the outside.

It will cook beautifully if you cook it slowly, and the meat itself will remain tender and moist. If you use a lower fat meat (like braising steak) it will be quite dry when you have cooked it.

MooMinCow Sun 30-Oct-11 23:24:53

ok thanks everyone - off to search for shin or brisket tomorrow.

out of interest what are your opinions on browning Vs not browning meat? is it worth doing?

PigletJohn Sun 30-Oct-11 23:30:56

pot-roast cooked without liquid, the fat cooks out and some of it burns away. You can also pour off any excess that you don't need for the gravy.

PigletJohn Sun 30-Oct-11 23:32:09

p.s. browning does improve the flavour, if you are slow-cooking it will not brown otherwise. I brown the onions and other roots as well when doing a pot.

PamSco Mon 31-Oct-11 00:26:43

Depends on what finish you want on the meat. With my brisket I don't cut it up I cook it in one or 2 solid blocks and shred at the end in the juice as I generally like to eat it in tortillas or with spaghetti.

If i'm doing a casserole the browning does add a nice flavour and keeps the pieces in a lump form.

BecauseImAWerewolefIt Mon 31-Oct-11 09:35:45

Browning means a degree of caramelisation, which adds more flavour. If you're using a slow cooker, brown the onions as well as the meat before you put them into the SC.

FoofFrighteners Mon 31-Oct-11 09:48:08

yy to brisket! Goes like a tough old boot at first and then suddenly melts into the most tender meat ever after about 8 hours slow cooking. Heavenly! And it's a really cheap cut, too! smile

I always flour then brown before slow cooking it.

Bellavita Mon 31-Oct-11 09:51:13

Definitely shin or skirt - yum!

I bought some skirt from Waitrose last week (butchers counter) and used it in a meat pie, was really really delicious.

PigletJohn Mon 31-Oct-11 10:00:13

you're making me feel hungry...

sometimes I do a whole brisket, which is quite a big piece and might feed 8. I usually do the no-added-liquid recipe, I tried a Delia recipe which was wet, and it came out tasting like an ordinary casserole, took much much longer to cook, and was not as tender.

The roots and onions are overdone by the time the meat is perfect, so I whiz them up to add to the gravy, and cook a separate batch of vegs.

bacon Mon 31-Oct-11 11:08:25

Find a decent beef producer in the area. Supermarket even Waitrose isnt up to par with me. To get good beef you need to obtain it from a pedigree animal such as longhorn, angus, hereford etc. It needs to be aged (hung, matured). Good marbeling too which you only get from beef animals that are traditionally breed outside (not store cattle).

A small producer will produce beef that is far superior to lots of these on the net - these animals are stuffed on grain, the maturing of the animal needs to be slowww. The best beef comes from around 30 months and plus.

There must be a farmers market or local producer on your door step?

Lulumama Mon 31-Oct-11 11:09:32

has anyone cooked oxtail in the slow cooker?

PigletJohn Mon 31-Oct-11 11:23:38

bacon Mon 31-Oct-11 11:08:25
"Find a decent beef producer in the area."

I'm sure you're right for steaks and roasting joints

But slow cooking is intended for poor-quality cuts, so I'm not convinced it matters here. Peasant food like coq au vin, hotpot, irish stew, pot roast are designed to use up the cheap stuff.

MooMinCow Mon 31-Oct-11 14:44:33

right, found butcher and come home with a kilo of shin (nicely cut & trimmed by jolly man in apron smile)

was planning to cook on Wednesday - am I better off freezing it?

Bellavita Mon 31-Oct-11 15:51:10

Will be ok in the fridge until Wednesday.

PestoCoffinisto Mon 31-Oct-11 16:05:40

Lulumama , yes my Mum always cooks her oxtails in the slow cooker. It comes out fantabolissimos smile

PomBearAtTheGatesOfDoom Mon 31-Oct-11 18:38:53

I cook ox heart in the slow cooker just tell the family it's "beef" and it comes out deliciously tender and juicy and lovely. It's dead cheap too, so we can have a stew bursting with meat instead of having to count out three peices each and fish for them grin

MoreBeta Mon 31-Oct-11 18:43:44

Shin or oxtail but it needs cooking reeeeaaaaly slow. Over 3 hours on a low temp in a covered crock pot sealed with foil in the oven if possible

ggirl Mon 31-Oct-11 18:46:55

we use feather steak

TheBolter Mon 31-Oct-11 18:49:09

I've made a delicious stew out of braising steak this week - 3 hours in bottom oven of Aga.

It was from a local farmer who breeds rare herds though, bit nicer than supermarket beef. I think quality has A LOT to do with it.

TheBolter Mon 31-Oct-11 18:50:00

Also I use stewing steak or shin - again from our local farmer.

simonthedog Mon 31-Oct-11 18:52:11

shin is lovely, our sainsburys sells shin on the butcher's counter.

FoofFrighteners Mon 31-Oct-11 19:27:08

what does it mean using a 'dry' recipe? Sometimes I over-gravy it!

And I add my veg (chopped into big pieces) after the meat has been cooking for about 3 hours, so it's not mush by dinner time!

PigletJohn Mon 31-Oct-11 19:51:59

I mean (for my pot-roast) that I put the browned meat and the browned vegetables in the pot, put the lid on tightly, do not add any water, stock, wine, wet stuff like canned tomatoes. So it cooks dry rather than being stewed or casseroled. Some juices and fat will come out of the ingredients as it cooks.

Lulumama Tue 01-Nov-11 08:09:10

ooh, thank you , i thikn am going to give it a try smile

PestoCaffeinisto Tue 01-Nov-11 09:12:31

Good luck Lulu smile

My mum also uses it to cook a tongue,

which might also be worth trying.....

if you're that way inclined wink

Slubberdegullion Tue 01-Nov-11 12:04:44

On the strength of this thread I have ordered my first ever ox heart today, so it better be good PomBear grin. Any particular recipe or do you cook it in just a standard braised beef method?

Pot roast brisket is up there in my all time favourite meals.

Did any of you watch Simon Hopkinson's recent series The Good Cook? He did a fabulous recipe with rolled breast of lamb. I've amended it a little to cook in the slow cooker and it was even better!


This qualifies as 'dry' cooking, as it's just the lamb and onions - but the liquid that comes out of them both makes the final dish absolutely glorious.

Slubberdegullion Tue 01-Nov-11 12:28:38

mmm that looks seriously good BIWI.
I have pinned it.

It is very good - but it is a fatty meat, so if you have anyone who isn't keen on fat, then they may not like it.

I used a boned shoulder joint on Sunday. Browned with onions and garlic, added a cup of red wine, worcester sauce and cooked at 170 for 2 hours. Had dh not been there i would have cooked a little less.

Very good value piece of beef, we got 3 days eating for 3 peeps for 8 euro!

ScaryFairy28 Tue 01-Nov-11 12:44:47

I made great stew at weekend it ended up being cooked three times and was great. Was cooked for 5 hours Friday night, 3 hours Saturday, the 1 hour Saturday night in steak pie it was great!grin no browning just cooked in slow cooker with veggies and bisto and it was just tesco value stewing beef.

FoofFighters Tue 01-Nov-11 16:11:46

thanks PigletJohn I will try not adding any liquids, I think that would improve my slow cooking smile

Lizcat Tue 01-Nov-11 16:50:33

If you can get them ox cheeks are truly the best and also the cheapest usually around £4 per kilo. You do need to go to a real butcher who can request them from the Abbatoir.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Tue 01-Nov-11 16:57:12

Ok, I like the sound of this dry pot roasting technique. But do you make gravy, and if so, how? Using the juices?

And you think cook for about 4 hours? I guess that's a low oven.

vixsatis Tue 01-Nov-11 17:06:52

Another vote for shin: really unctuous

PigletJohn Tue 01-Nov-11 17:37:16


yes use the juices that will have come from the meat and vegs, and skim off any fat to make a roux with flour to thicken it, add red wine and sometimes that special chef's tomato ingredient for colour and taste.

However I like to cook the meat with roots and onions round it. By the time the meat is ready these vegs have turned to pulp and are not fit to serve, but you can whizz them up to add thickness and flavour to the gravy.

Make the gravy after you have taken the meat out and set it to rest, wrapped in foil. Preferably make it in the cooking pan.

nappyaddict Fri 01-Feb-13 02:24:53

Just bumping this thread for more "dry" shin of beef slow cooker recipes smile

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