Chef John's Beef Tips and Tots Makes Tough Cuts Tender
Unless you live in the Northeast, beef "tips" are not something you see on menus very often, which is a shame, since they are one of the great, meaty comfort foods of all time. Having said that, we've all had beef tips before, except it was probably called "stew." I don't want to get bogged down in semantics, but to me the main difference between the two terms is where the meat comes from, and how it's cut.
Based on my experience, "tips" are smaller trimmings cut from pieces of meat that weren't big enough to make larger chunks of "stew meat." Nowadays, beef tips can come from any cut, but for obvious financial reasons, your average truck stop is using something cheap, lean, and tough, which is what I went with here. There's something very satisfying about making these types of cuts succulent and delicious, and the keys are incorporating enough fat into the final product, and cooking it long enough.
You'll have to judge the cooking time for yourself, but don't stop until the meat is melt-in-your-mouth tender. Once the beef gets to that point, the fat from the meat, and whatever we've added to the pan will have emulsified into an amazing sauce, and no one will know how unremarkable the original cut really was. Speaking of amazing sauce, I love this over the potato tots, but you can't go wrong with a big pile of mashed potatoes. No matter how you enjoy this, I really do hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!
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