I like to but stew meat that is precut into cubes. The meat is too big , esp for the little ones. My husband thinks we should cut it smaller prior to cooking. I say it would make it even harder to brown and it would dry out more during cooking. Who is right? Oh, cutting the raw meat is a pain, but he said he'd do that.
I like to cook it in the slow cooker all day, then mash it with a fork and put barbeque sauce in about the last 30 minutes. It's like sloppy joes or pulled pork and much easier for the little ones.
I don't see how it would be harder to brown, and it really shouldn't dry out. The more stew meat and certain roast meat cook the more tender it gets.
My husband likes to presure cook it, he usually dumps in a beer or two and cooks it 10 min per lb,with 15lbs pressure it comes out nice and tender.
What I would do is start with a whole chuck roast. Yes, lots of cutting, BUT stew meat is very lean to begin with, so that would definitely dry out the smaller you cut it. Chuck has more fat and will withstand longer braising. After I cook a whole roast in the crock pot, it just falls apart into shreds because it's so tender. Actually, it may be easier for you to shred the roast after cooking and give the little people the smaller shreds. It's really good! And I used to brown the roast, but you know what, my grandmother never did that and hers was awesome. So I went back to doing it her way and saved time and saved myself from cleaning an extra pan. And it still tastes great.
I agree with starting with a whole roast. Browning gives a little extra flavor, but it's not mandatory. Raw meat is WAY easier to cut if it's partially frozen.