Tough beef stew meat in beef bourguignon

I used Ina Garten's beef bourguignon recipe. It calls for searing the meat on medium for 3-5 minutes, and then once the meat is added to the liquids and vegetables, bring it to a simmer. Then the pot is put into an oven at 250 degrees for 1.25 hours. Then you take the pot out to add a slurry, onions, mushrooms, and then bring the pot to a boil. Once, at boil, then you lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

I followed these directions to a T, and the meat came out tough. I used beef chuck as she suggested. I also just recently read that you should not bring a beef stew to a boil, despite her recipe calling for it briefly.

How can I make the tough beef in this stew tender? Do I put in back in the oven for a few hours at 250 degrees, or do I simmer it on low on the stove for a few hours?

  • Posted by: Alaina
  • January 2, 2021


SarahJane September 8, 2023
Yep, Ina’s temperature & baking time are way too low!
Jaime Oliver says 325F for 4 hours!
I used good quality beef, & following Ina’s directions it was really tough. After doing some research, I put it back in the oven, for another hour & a quarter at 325
molly January 4, 2021
Has anyone ever tried to return products before? You need the original box in order to return AND then you have to wait for someone to get back to you for the return label. Still waiting
Alaina January 3, 2021
Thank you both for the advice. I put it back into the oven for 2.5 hours and the meat broke down. I wonder if Ina Garten knows that her recipe calls for too short of a cooking time and too low of a cooking temperature....
Lori T. January 3, 2021
Cooking stew at a low temperature isn't a problem, because that's how stew was traditionally done. It took advantage of a slow heat, usually overnight, and later was the darling of the crockpot crowd. It's just that folks don't always want to cook something low and slow, so the timings and temperatures got adjusted. The one thing that didn't adjust was the stew beef- which still needs time to have the connective tissue dissolve to tenderize it. I don't know if Ina gets a special cut of beef, or what. Maybe it's a typo in the book that hasn't been corrected. But I don't tend to trust the recipe of any "famous" cookbook author just on their word alone anyway. Especially not when it flies in the face of what I know- which is that stew beef isn't going to tenderize in a short amount of time at such a low temperature. You could always try to send her an email or a tweet - but chances are it would just be handled by some assistant, and not much would actually change.
[email protected] January 3, 2021
Hi - I noticed that your beef stew went into a 250 degrees oven. If that's Fahrenheit, then it's way too low. Stews generally cook at 325-350 degrees Fahrenheit. I like to cook meat stews
at 325 degrees for at least 2 hours. Slow cooking and 325 degrees develops the flavor and gives the meat time to cook through.
Lori T. January 2, 2021
Your meat just needs a bit longer to cook, that's all. You can choose to put it back in the oven or simmer on the stovetop as you like. I prefer doing stew in the oven, just because it takes less attention and cooks more evenly- but that's me. I've never tried Ina's recipe, but my own usually takes 2 1/2 hours or so in the oven to get tender beef. That's also at 350F, as well. I can't imagine tenderizing chuck in much less than that, unless your cubes were half size, maybe 1/2 inch cubes. Stew beef just takes the time it takes to tenderize, and there's not a lot you can do about that. On the plus side, a stew always tastes better with a bit of age on it- so reheating now will not only tenderize the meat, it will result in a tastier final stew.
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