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Old 03-02-2009, 11:26 PM   #1
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Beef cooking desperation - tough stew meat

Can anyone tell me why When I cook say a Gulyas or some other beef stew or soup my meat always comes out tough and tasting like liver? I follow the recipes to the letter, heat, time cut everything! What should I do?

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Old 03-03-2009, 01:55 AM   #2
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If you post the recipe, we may be give more directed help. There are some recipes that are published that appear never to have been tested. A stew normally needs long slow cooking to develop the tenderness.
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Old 03-03-2009, 02:53 AM   #3
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I agree with miniman about long slow cooking of stew meat. Don't let it boil rapidly or the meat will cook too fast and become tough, even if you cook it a long time. If you are cooking stove top then browning the meat is a good first step; however, if you are using a slow cooker then don't brown it.
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Old 03-03-2009, 06:26 AM   #4
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What cut of meat do you use?

The point of a gulyas is slow cooking whith low heat for a long period of time to tenderize a tough cut of meat. As mentioned, boiling is taboo for meats as that toughens it. Simmering is what's needed and for an hour or two depending on the size of the pieces.
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Old 03-03-2009, 08:51 PM   #5
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Before I started browning the meat well, I had the same problem. I tend to be an impatient cook and want to turn meat before it is time, but being patient and letting the meat brown thoroughly first really helped.

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Old 03-03-2009, 10:20 PM   #6
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I agree with everyone who recommends s-l-o-w cooking of stew meat. It is generally tougher cuts, and cooking low and slow breaks down the connective tissue.
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Old 03-04-2009, 02:58 AM   #7
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I'm in agreement with everyone else. When making a stew type meal (stroganof, bourgonion, goulash), plan on an all day thing. Sear the meat to brown it, but then let it sit in wine or stock for...... well, hours. If you have a good stove or a crock pot, it makes it easier. Low heat and hours of time. Leaner meat will be tougher sometimes.
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Old 03-04-2009, 10:29 AM   #8
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The "tasting like liver" issue is strange though ....
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Old 03-04-2009, 02:16 PM   #9
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Just a suggestion...Would you rather try using a pressure cooker to hasten your cooking instead of the slow cooker?

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Old 03-04-2009, 11:21 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by jennyema View Post
The "tasting like liver" issue is strange though ....
I knew someone who put water in the pan with steaks, without browning them at all first, and cooked them through that way. They had kind of a liver-like taste too. They didn't look too good either!

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Old 03-05-2009, 07:31 AM   #11
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After many times buying cuts of meat label for stew and then they end up tough and ruin the whole meal. I discovered chuck roast works great. I buy a whole chuck roast, cut it into chunks myself and make my beef stew and I have never again had tough meat again. I use it for soups, barbq beef and stew and of course makes a great pot roast. I will never buy stew beef again.
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Old 03-05-2009, 08:07 AM   #12
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Try three hours in a covered pot with a heat setting that barely makes the pot cover too hot to keep your hand on.
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Old 03-05-2009, 11:27 AM   #13
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Try three hours in a covered pot with a heat setting that barely makes the pot cover too hot to keep your hand on.
The liquid should be at a bare simmer. My pot lid is pretty hot at that point.

If the liquid isn't hot enough, you risk food poisoning.
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Old 03-05-2009, 03:43 PM   #14
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I don't see where you're from, but in Hawaii we sometimes got beef that was gamy tasting, something you might mistake for "liver" flavor if you haven't eaten much wild game. I've also had that problem with most ground pork anywhere I've lived, and some other cuts of pork. I think it has to do with what they're fed and if and how aged. I actually don't mind the flavor. Also, sometimes chuck, my preferred cut for stew type meals can have a stronger flavor (which is why I like it, but again, it may be an acquired taste).
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Old 03-05-2009, 10:58 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jennyema View Post
The liquid should be at a bare simmer. My pot lid is pretty hot at that point.

If the liquid isn't hot enough, you risk food poisoning.
It also isn't going to do anything to make the meat tender, either.

The cuts of beef that are normally used for braising (pot roasts for example) or stews are generally high in connective tissue (collagen) - that's why they are cooked by braising or stewing. Collagen melts at about 180F ... that's why they are simmered (simmering is usually between 180F - 200F). So, if the meat is simmered for long enough for the collagen to melt - the meat will be tender.

Boiling meat can have an adverse affect which causes the muscle fibers to both constrict and contract (they get smaller in diameter and length) that forces the "juices" out (this happens when meat is cooked by any means) ... but boiling takes it to an extreme level and it sets them in that contracted condition. That is why boiled meat gets tough.

Browning (searing) the meat before cooking doesn't make any difference in tenderness, nor does it seal in any juices - it's just a way to add a flavor developed from a Maillard browning reaction between the fats/sugars/proteins ... this results in a "brown" stew. If you don' sear the meat first - it is " blanc" - or a "white" stew.

The stew always tasting like liver really stumps me.
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Old 03-06-2009, 04:51 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jennyema View Post
The liquid should be at a bare simmer. My pot lid is pretty hot at that point.

If the liquid isn't hot enough, you risk food poisoning.
Quote:
Originally Posted by justplainbill View Post
Try three hours in a covered pot with a heat setting that barely makes the pot cover too hot to keep your hand on.
190F is about heat setting that barely makes my pot cover too hot to touch.
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Old 03-06-2009, 05:12 PM   #17
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Michael has nailed it. But, I also have to say that braising in barely simmering liquid, though it does a wonderful job, isn't the only way to cook a great stew. As ahs been stated by two former posters, you can achieve wonderful results by using a pressure cooker set at 15 lbs. This reduces cooking time dramatically, even though the liquid boils inside the cooker. For whatever reason, it comes out moist and tender. Also, when a pressure cooker is used, flavorings tend to permeate both the meat and veggies, i.e. potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, etc. The down side is that you have to make sure to use enough water for the cooking time as it is somewhat difficult to remove the lid to add more. You have to cool everything down and release the pressure. Then, you have to heat it all up again. But as a general rule, if you fill the pot with enough water to cover the food contents, you will be fine. Cook for about 45 minutes to get a great stew.

If you don't have a pressure cooker, then use a slow cooker, or slow oven and a heavy, lidded pt, like an oval roasting pan, or a dutch oven.

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