Published January 1, 1996.
Choose chuck, use a combination of broth and wine, and thicken at the beginning for a simple but intensely flavored stew.
What cut or cuts of meat respond best to stewing? How much and what kind of liquid should you use? When and with what do you thicken the stew? And where should the stew be cooked—in the oven, on top of the stove, or does it matter?
Few dishes are as soul-satisfying as a hearty beef stew. Our goal in developing a recipe for it was to keep that cooking process simple without compromising the stew's deep, complex flavor.
We knew that chuck is one of the most flavorful cuts of beef and that its intramuscular fat and connective tissue suit it well for the long, slow, moist cooking that is stewing. When cooked in liquid, the connective tissue melts down into gelatin, making the meat juicy and tender. Ultimately, we opted for thickening the stew with flour at the beginning—stirring it into the sautéing onions and garlic, right before adding the liquid—not because stew thickened this way was any better but because it was easier. Once the liquid starts to simmer, the cook's work is done. We preferred the consistent, enveloping heat of the oven as opposed to the inconsistent heat of the burner for cooking the stew.list of recipes