The label on the package may read "stew meat," but you can prepare the chunky pieces of beef in many ways. Use stew meat straight from the package, or marinate the chunks to increase flavor and tenderness before you cook them. These versatile beef bits are ideal for slow-cooking, quick-searing, grilling, casseroles and one-dish meals. Kids like the bite-sized pieces -- no cutting necessary. And if you're concerned with portion control, chunks may help you limit calories. Although beef dishes are hearty and filling, they also tend to be heavy. Try a fresh green salad or fruit salad as a light accompaniment.
A slow-cooker makes even tough cuts of meat tender. It's an excellent method for preparing beef cubes with herbs and seasonings for use in dishes with noodles or rice, or to use as a base for soups and stews. To make simple gravy, stir flour or cornstarch into the juices after the meat is done; the slow-cooked beef chunks and gravy become a main dish you can serve with mashed potatoes, a salad and other vegetables. For spicy beef, add chopped onion and a bottle of barbecue sauce with the raw meat so the beef can simmer all day and absorb the flavor. Make simple beef stew or vegetable soup by putting all the ingredients into the slow-cooker in the morning. Dinner will be ready for you when you walk through the door at the end of the day.
Preheat a wok or a heavy pan and assemble your favorite pre-cut fresh or frozen vegetables. When the pan is hot, add a small amount of olive, peanut or sesame oil. Add beef cubes, tossing them quickly as they sear to prevent sticking and to aid in even cooking. Add the vegetables and stir them in the hot pan until they are crisp-tender. Those fresh vegetable snacks in your fridge are perfect to stir-fry. When you're pressed for time, stop at a salad bar on the way home and create a take-out dish of sliced vegetables that can go right into the wok.
Beef chunks are ideal for kabobs. A selection of other skewer-friendly items is all you need to put together a quick and satisfying meal that also offers a fun factor. Place the beef chunks in a marinade in the evening or morning before you will cook them. Dry salad dressing mix stirred into olive oil with a touch of vinegar makes a simple, tangy marinade. Other kabob selections include cherry tomatoes, pepper chunks, onion wedges, mushrooms, fresh pineapple chunks, and par-boiled new potatoes and carrot chunks. Par-boiling makes potato and carrot pieces soft enough to slip onto a skewer so they can finish cooking on the grill with the rest of the foods.
Beef stroganoff with sour cream is a traditional Russian meal that's high in fat and calories. Update your recipe by using healthier cooking methods. Gently brown lean beef chunks in a bit of olive oil, then add onions, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and ketchup, then simmer everything together until the meat is tender. As a sour cream substitute, stir in low-fat sour cream or low-fat plain yogurt just before you top a prepared bed of brown rice or whole-grain noodles with the beef mixture.
- "Crockery Cookery"; Mable Hoffman; 1975
- Food Network: Spicy Beef Stir-Fry; Food Network Magazine
- Food Network; Beef Stroganoff; Paula Deen; 2008
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