Just because you do not have a package of meat labeled "stew meat" does not mean you should forgo your favorite stew recipe. Stew meat generally refers to the tougher cuts of meat that require a long, slow cooking time through stewing to tenderize them. The meat can come from any animal, not just beef. If you cannot find stew meat at a butcher shop or grocery store, there are other cuts of meat to substitute.
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Other Beef Cuts
Chuck steak comes from a cut of beef used to make hamburgers. This cut has a tough, chewy texture that, like stew meat, requires a longer cooking time to make it palatable. Cut the meat from the bone of the chuck steak and use it as you would beef stew meat in your recipe. Alternatively, opt for cutting a brisket or flatiron steak into 1/2 to 3/4 inch cubes to use as a substitute for beef stew meat.
Certain cuts of pork withstand the long stewing process better than others. Avoid using lean cuts of pork for stew meat as they will dry out during long cooking. Opt for cuts of pork roast such as shoulder roast, sirloin roast, blade roast or use baby back ribs to replace the stew meat. Remove the bones before serving the stew. If replacing beef with pork, the flavor of the finished dish will not have a strong beefy flavor, but it will still have a rich taste from the pork.
Lean cuts of game such as venison and bison are ideal for replacing beef stew meat in recipes. The game meat requires the same cooking process to tenderize it as tough cuts of beef for stewing. Look for stew cuts of bison or venison from specialty meat markets or a friendly neighborhood hunter. When cooking game, marinate it for at least one hour to mellow the gamy flavor and to add moisture to the meat.
Lamb and beef can be used interchangeably in stew recipes, but the right cut of lamb will make a difference. Opt for boneless lamb shoulder cut into chunks. This might also be labeled lamb stew meat. When using lamb meat, opt for a lighter chicken broth to flavor the stew so it does not overpower the lamb, as suggested by a recipe for Scottish lamb stew from "Betty Crocker Come Home to Dinner."