Beef stew is one of the most cozy comforts you can dream of, perfect to warm up a cold night and leave you feeling loved. And the key, of course, to a good beef stew is tender, really beefy-tasting meat. You’ll find that in tough cuts with lots of connective tissue; over gentle, slow cooking, that tissue breaks down and makes the meat fork-tender, moist, and, well, deeply meaty. If you use an already-tender cut, it will dry out and get tough as the stew cooks—best to go with a tough guy (it’s cheaper, too).
Our go-to for beef stew is boneless chuck roast. It doesn’t dry out, and it offers up all the rich flavor you want in a beef stew. You’re probably best avoiding those packages of “beef stew meat” or “beef for stewing”—they may indeed contain chuck, but these scraps are likely to be a mixture of cuts that cook at different rates.
A couple of other notes: For best flavor, do take the time to brown the beef well on the front end—that “caramelization” adds loads of depth and savory flavor to the whole pot of stew. Go for deep, really brown color; that means more flavor. And the last note: Do be patient, and let the stew cook slowly for a long time, as the recipe directs. It’ll be worth it, I promise.