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Why is my beef casserole/stew etc always tough :(

(28 Posts)
padboz Tue 31-Jan-12 20:42:01

I have tried several ways - cooking at gas mark 1 for 5 hours or putting it on the hob with barely a bubble, or gas mark 2 for 3 hours blah blah. I tend to use skirt or shin from the supermarket. I never have this problem with lamb which is always succulent and lovely - beef is always cuttable with a spoon but stringy - what am I doing wrong???

TeamEdward Tue 31-Jan-12 20:44:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Breitling Tue 31-Jan-12 20:50:35

try casserole or stewing steak as maybe you will have more luck. not sure what skirt and shin is tbh blush but could be the wrong meat to use? i cook long and slow and always flash fry first tossed in seasoned flour to seal the juices

droves Tue 31-Jan-12 21:01:38

Get a slow cooker. I had rubbish stew until I did , now it just melts (yum) .

padboz Tue 31-Jan-12 21:13:47

I thank you - I have tried a slow cooker and its the same thing - It does get tender I suppose in that it breaks up but its not succulent or moist sad

TunipTheVegemal Tue 31-Jan-12 21:16:15

Do you make sure there is some fatty pork in the stew as well (eg bacon)? That really helps - I don't generally cook beef stew without a bit of pork to give it a boost.

Hassled Tue 31-Jan-12 21:16:37

Could well be the cut of meat - I use stewing steak and you do need a good ripple of fat through it. And yes, toss in some flour and brown before you start adding any liquid.

padboz Tue 31-Jan-12 21:17:11

teamedward - does it look different?

startail Tue 31-Jan-12 21:18:26

Did you brown it first? Just boiling beef can make it rubbery.

MissBerta Tue 31-Jan-12 21:23:19

No need to brown. I fry an onion, celery stick, chopped butternut squash and two carrots, toss stewing steak in seasoned flour, lightly fry that then add beef stock (and red wine if you have it) and a tin of chopped tomatoes with a squeeze of to puree. Bring to the boil and then cook on low (150c) for around 4 hours. Guaranteed the best stew ever!

padboz Tue 31-Jan-12 21:49:15

oh miss berta - please come to my house - I do pretty much that an I have meat that can be cut with a spoon but its not succulent - its shreds of meat rather than the soft meat that my dad used to make - I have read so many recipes and I can't see yet what I have missed

Fillybuster Tue 31-Jan-12 21:52:03

Are you cooking the right cuts for long enough, and with enough liquid? Have a chat with your local butcher about the right cuts...if you can cut your beef with a spoon but its stringy, then maybe use a different type?

I think skirt is usually meant to be flash-cooked for stir fries etc?

iseenodust Tue 31-Jan-12 21:57:48

Cook it one day for at least 3 hours and then another hour on the day you want to eat it. Red wine does seem to help?

TunipTheVegemal Tue 31-Jan-12 22:05:26

I think some cuts do have long muscle fibres, shin for instance. It'll be the case no matter how you cook them and I have had lovely slow-cooked shin that does still have those long fibres but I wouldn't call it stringy. My friend does this one for instance, I've had it twice and it's absolute heaven.

Are you cutting it across the grain so the long fibres are cut short?

TheSkiingGardener Tue 31-Jan-12 22:05:34

I think it's the cut you are using. As someone else said, talk to a butcher, or just try different cuts. Also, browning it doesn't seal in the juices, but it does give it a nice tasty fried brown bit to help develop the gravy.

padboz Tue 31-Jan-12 22:06:43

gosh - this is the first time I have posted here - lovely kind mumsnetters!

ThatVikRinA22 Tue 31-Jan-12 22:11:58

do stews in either the oven or the slow cooker for lovely, tender meat! dont do it on the hob.

member Tue 31-Jan-12 22:15:35

I use skirt all the time rather than "stewing" or braising steak when you haven't a clue if you're getting rubbish

Cut across the grain like was suggested upthread, I also do mine as a cold start.

padboz Tue 31-Jan-12 22:31:52

does anyone cook shoulder of lamb? I wonder if I am asking the wrong thing off beef - shoulder of lamb is just so soft that my kids love it, beef slow cooked doesnt seem to produce that softness. My only reason to suspect that that isnt a thing about beef rather than my failure is that from the tesco finest range to fray bentos pies I have seen soft succulent slow cooked beef that is tender rather than falling apart . Any advice will be lapped up!

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 31-Jan-12 23:06:33

If the beef is dry or stringy despite several hours of cooking, then your casserole lacks fat. When buying shin beef look for a piece with plenty of marbling going through it as this will break down and give you the juiciness you're looking for. A lot of beef sold these days for stewing or casseroling is far too lean. Use beef dripping to brown the meat and veg. Shoulder of lamb has a lot more fat going through it so it's easier to get the right results.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 31-Jan-12 23:13:18

Agree that you need fat in there. If your meat is too lean then it will go hard and rubbery.

I do two different casseroles, one with braising steak and another with shin. The shin is pretty lean I find, so I use a little bacon or pancetta in that as well.

Onions, then meat, then flour and let it cook. Then red wine, stock, bay leaf plus any veg you want to add (carrots, whole shallots, mushrooms etc).

GoingForGoalWeight Wed 01-Feb-12 01:27:41

Gino on This Morning says no need to brown meat first, makes no difference. Don't do it! In his firm Italian accent.

MissBerta Wed 01-Feb-12 06:56:14

Jamie o has tested both ways and declared not browning gives a 'cleaner' taste. I never brown now.

Freshlettice Wed 01-Feb-12 07:57:30

What cogito said. I always add bacon lardons or pork fat to beef casseroles and always seal the meat by quick saute first. Lamb has much more fat marbling. Also, buy real meat from a good butcher, not supermarket stuff. You'll need less as it doesn't shrink and it should have good fat marbling, esp if it's a traditional breed of beef.

4merlyknownasSHD Wed 01-Feb-12 10:12:03

Iseenodust has it. Cook it one day, then let it cool right down and reheat the next before serving. Always works for us.

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