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What kind of meat should I buy?

July 26th, 2010

I really like to get questions from our Spend Smart blog readers. Here’s one about beef stew. Kay asks, “What cut of meat should you buy to make beef stew?” Good question. There are many ways to cook beef: broiling, pan-frying, stir-frying, grilling, roasting, braising and cooking in liquid. But some methods are better suited to some cuts than others. When you make stew you use both moisture and a long cooking time. This means you can use a less tender, usually less expensive cut from the front (chuck) or rear (round) of the animal—any cut from the chuck and round will work except top round. It is important to cook slowly with the lid on—whether in the oven, on top of the stove or in the crockpot.

You would think that it would cost more to buy stew meat than a chuck or round roast because the butcher has to take time to cut it in chunks. That’s not always the case. The butcher I spoke with today said that sometimes stew meat is just made from small chunks of more tender meat that are left after packaging other cuts. 

The Cattlemen’s Beef Board has created a list of lean beef cuts and preferred cooking methods, 29 Ways to Love Lean Beef.  The chart also compares the fat and calories in a 3-ounce serving.

-pointers from Peggy

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