Meat Cuts Ideal For Slow Cooking

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Slow cooking is an economical way to turn a basic cut of meat or poultry into something memorable and delicious! By following the principle of ‘low and slow’, you can create meltingly tender curries, braises, stews, roasts and soups. Cooking the right cuts of meat at low temperature for an extended period of time can be the key to turning something good into something great.

Meat Cuts Ideal For Slow Cooking

Beef Cuts

Beef pieces can be divided into two categories. ‘Primary’ (or ‘prime cuts’) are the most tender cuts of beef and include porterhouse, ribeye, scotch fillet, sirloin, tenderloin, t-bone and rump. These cuts aren’t good for slow cooking but are ideal for steaks or roasts where you’re aiming to cook the meat medium rare.

‘Secondary cuts’ of beef are those that contain the most connective tissue/collagen, which can make them quite tough! The muscles of the shoulder, cheek, belly, ribs and leg have the most connective tissue because of the work they do. When cooked right, secondary cuts of beef offer a lot of flavour and reward. Chuck (neck), shin (shank, osso bucco or gravy beef), brisket (ribs and short ribs), flank, knuckle, cheek, ox tail, silverside and topside are ideal for long, slow cooking. Secondary cuts like chuck and brisket have layered fat in the meat, which gives a soft and rich result after cooking. Collagen is extremely tough when raw. However, when cooked for a long time it transforms into meltingly soft gelatin, giving meat a moist and tender texture. That gelatin also seeps into the surrounding stew liquids, increasing it’s viscosity and velvety texture. If you simmer a low collagen cut (tender when raw piece like tenderloin) for three hours, it turns out horribly tough and dry.

Other Meat & Poultry Great For Slow Cooking

  • Chicken or Duck wings, thighs, legs/drumsticks and marylands (containing the thigh and drumstick)
  • Lamb or Goat shanks, ribs, shoulder, neck, forequarter and belly
  • Pork jowl/cheek, shoulder, neck, ribs, belly and hocks/knuckle/trotters
  • Rabbit front or hind legs
  • Fattier minced meats
  • Veal shin/shanks, shoulder and ribs

As a general rule, lean meats like Kangaroo, Emu, Quail and Venison (unless using the legs or tail) are not ideal for slow cooking. 

Methods of Slow Cooking Beef

Wet slow cooking (braising and stewing) is done by adding a liquid during the cooking process to help keep the meat juicy. Cooking using a good stock, wine, milk, coconut milk, vinegar or even water is fantastic for cuts of meat with less fat and more connective tissue. Examples of these cuts include topside, silverside, brisket, knuckle/round steak, oyster blade, osso bucco and skirt steak. These can be used as whole pieces/steaks or diced into smaller amounts. Ensure to completely immerse your meat in the cooking liquid which will give a more tender result.

Dry slow cooking is essentially the equivalent to oven slow cooking or roasting. You do not add any (or very little) liquid during the cooking process. Dry slow cooking is great for cuts with a higher component of fat and will therefore contain more moisture. Simple salt and pepper mixes, dry rubs, herbs or other aromatics are perfect when using this method. Whole roasting or smoking pieces of beef like chuck, blade, brisket, spare-ribs or shin is a great technique to turn a cheap cut into something delicious. This type of cooking lends itself to presenting a whole piece of meat to the table. The meat can then be “pulled” or cut into individual slices.

How to Braise

  • If browning the meat, pat dry with paper towels. This will help you get a nice brown crust on the meat. This is not always a necessary step in Asian cookery, as meat is often placed into the braising liquid and left to gently simmer.
  • For browning, heat a small amount of oil in an oven-proof braising pot over high heat. When the oil is very hot, add the meat. Caramelise the meat for a minute or two on all sides. Remove the meat from the pan and set it aside. If you want to cook entirely on the stove top, an oven proof dish is not needed.
  • Add required recipe vegetables or aromatics and cook as necessary.
  • Return the meat to the pot and add your braising liquid which should cover the protein. You can now add other flavourings and seasonings.
  • Bring the braising liquid back to a simmer, and cover with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Transfer to a low temperature oven (between 120-160deg) or if cooking on the stovetop, turn the heat right down.
  • Braise for 1 to 6 hours, depending on the size of the meat. Aim for about an hour per 500-700g.

Oven braising is great because the meat is cooked with indirect heat. But if you do not have an oven-safe pot, you can braise on the stovetop over a low flame. You’ll have to check it periodically to make sure the liquid is simmering and not boiling. Slow cookers are another great option for braising as they keep food cooking at an exact low temperature. To cool and store slow cooked meat, it is best to leave it in the braising liquid so that it doesn’t dry out.

 

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