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#1 Sun 14 Jun 09 4:16am

Jaqui0

Member
Occupation Mum
From Brisbane, Australia
Member since Sun 14 Jun 09

How do I make tough meat tender in slow cooker?

Can any tell me how to make beef nice and tender when cooked in the slow cooker?  I have tried all types of meat.  I have cooked for shorter periods and longer periods.  I normally put it in first thing in the morning on low setting and serve for dinner, but it is always tough and chewy.  Other meats cook perfectly fine, just not Beef.  Thanks

Last edited by Jaqui0 (Sun 14 Jun 09 4:34am)

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#2 Sun 14 Jun 09 6:31am

runwestierun

Forum champ
Occupation Volunteer
From Oregon Coast USA
Member since Sat 22 Nov 08

Re: How do I make tough meat tender in slow cooker?

I sear mine first in a pan to brown it, just for flavor.  Then I put some kind of liquid in the slowcooker--beef boullion, stock, BBQ sauce, with onions, celery and carrots rough chopped for flavor.  Then I put maybe maybe 3 or 4 small red potatoes in the bottom and place the meat on top of them.  I set it on the lowest setting and let it go at least 10 hours.  If your meat is tough either the temperature is too high or it's not being cooked long enough.  It could also be tough if there's no fat on the piece of meat and you cook it with no liquid.  I don't trim fat off of the beef for the slow cooker.  It aids in the cooking process and most of it cooks off anyway.

What cut are you using?

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#3 Sun 14 Jun 09 7:57am

Jaqui0

Member
Occupation Mum
From Brisbane, Australia
Member since Sun 14 Jun 09

Re: How do I make tough meat tender in slow cooker?

Hi thanks for that.   smile
I think I have used every cut imaginable!!!  I usually try to get something with a bit of fat on it, and I normally put the meat on top of my vegetables, as the vegetables  seem to cook a bit better that way. 
Today I am using Wagyu gravey beef, so I shall see how it goes.  I am wondering though, if the reason it's tough is I haven't been putting in enough liquid.  I have added more, so hopefully this is the reason.  Somebody suggested that vinegar might help, but I wonder how the flovour would be affected.
It's been cooking on low since 8:30am, and I plan to eat around 6:00pm tonight, so hopefully the cooking time is OK.

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#4 Sun 14 Jun 09 10:37pm

Mr Grumpy

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Occupation Sh*t Finder
From Coventry
Member since Sat 22 Dec 07

Re: How do I make tough meat tender in slow cooker?

Please excuse me if this sounds patronising, but is the stew, casserole or whatever brought to the boil before you put it on the slow cooker?  Your post doesn't make this clear but you may of course assume that this is too obvious to state.  Vinegar is good in a marinade before cooking as it is very effective at breaking down the connective tissue that makes meat tough.  Try a marinade of wine or cider vinegar, olive oil, peppercorns, juniper berries, a bay leaf, some herbs and just a little salt for 24 hours before you start cooking the meat.

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#5 Mon 15 Jun 09 4:19am

Bakeme

Member
Occupation Mum/Wife/Cook/Teacher
From Australia
Member since Mon 01 Jun 09

Re: How do I make tough meat tender in slow cooker?

I make a massaman curry using shin beef. I cook it all day in the sauce with potato and onion and have never eaten anything so tender. I've been told, the cheaper the meat, the better it is in a slow cooker  neutral

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#6 Mon 15 Jun 09 10:04am

Ashen

Forum champ
Occupation Why is the Rum always gone???!
From out to lunch
Member since Sat 07 Jan 06

Re: How do I make tough meat tender in slow cooker?

I think RWR has the general technique down  for a beef roast done in the slow cooker..    A general rule is that you want a tougher cut of meat for a braising application... It really works well because it has more connective tissue ( collagen)... when cooked  for a long time in a moist and fairly low temperature ( around the 225F mark)  enviroment ,the  collagen breaks down into gelatine...  the meat actually loses alot of moisture in this process but the fat and gelatine mix with the braising liquids and meat juices  and eventually soak back into the meat to provide a moist end product. The gelatine and fats give a mouthfeel of the meat being juicy and because the connective tissue has been broken down into gelatine the meat is tender.   I personally like to make sure the meat is actually down on the bottom of the crockpot with the liquid  and the veggies are around the side or on top.  A good splash of red wine never goes wrong for flavour and a few sliced fresh mushrooms  dribble

My favourite cuts would be blade roast followed by a rump roast..   they both have decent amounts of connective tissue but the  rump roast is a bit leaner so doesn't work quite so well in my opinion.

10 hrs on low   or  about 4 to 5 hrs on high seems to be the general timeline for the roasts I have done.  I like the lower and slower method the best if you have time though.


Only a fool argues with a skunk, a mule or a cook.  { cowboy saying}
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#7 Mon 15 Jun 09 1:46pm

GeoffP

Forum champ
Occupation Retired Clergy & Computer Consultant
From Bradford, West Yorks
Member since Mon 03 Jul 06

Re: How do I make tough meat tender in slow cooker?

Good grief - Wagyu beef! - I could never afford that at alll

Generally, the tougher and cheaper the beef is, the more tender it cooks to in a slow cooker. If I am braising a whole joint in the slow cooker, I use brisket - if I am doing a beef stew, would use either stewing steak, or shin beef - even braising steak doesn't need slow cooker to be tender.

However, you do need to use sufficient liquid, usually to just cover the beef.

My method (the usual one) is to first put the slow cooker on, then fry off any onions (if used) until soft and just beginning to brown, and add garlic (if used) for a couple of mins  at the end of the frying, then those go straight into slow cooker.

Next brown the meat well (for flavour), and put it into slow cooker. Then brown the rest of the vegetables and put them into the slow cooker.

Finally, add a little flour to the pan, and more fat/butter if necessary, and deglazed the pan with some wine or beer (if using) plus beef stock, and bring to the boil - the liquid should only be slightly thickened, and add that to the slow cooker while boiling. Check that the liquid is enough to cover the meat (it only just needs enough to just cover), add any herbs and or spices, and let the slow cooker do the rest - it should be simmering very gently on high, or only just simmering on low. I usually use the "auto" setting, which on mine brings it to a simmer, then cuts it down to low.

Its quite important to have enough boiling liquid in the slow cooker at the start, otherwise it takes ages to come to temperature.

If you are adding mushrooms, its best to add these, after frying, about 20 - 30 mins before the end of cooking.

If the sauce needs reducing at the end, take the meat and veg out, and pour the sauce into a pan where you can reduce it at a higher temperature - put meat and veg back into cooker while you do this.

Never had a failure this way, and whatever meat I use always ends up meltingly tender. The only caveat is that, for meats which are tender already - chicken etc, the cooking time should be shorter, otherwise the meat will disintegrate.

But don't go to expense of using Wagyu beef for slow cooking - any decent organic free range meat will be fine - the cheaper and tougher the better - it always ends up melting in your mouth.

It my favourite was of doing all sorts of stews and casseroles - especially things like Boeuf Bourguignon, Coq au Vin, Gardianne and Cassoulet, Suffolk Stew and anything else that calls for slow cooking of cheap tough meat. I'll be doing a Suffolk Stew using Scrag End of mutton later this week

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#8 Sat 20 Jun 09 11:44pm

Jaqui0

Member
Occupation Mum
From Brisbane, Australia
Member since Sun 14 Jun 09

Re: How do I make tough meat tender in slow cooker?

Thanks for all the advise that's truely awesome!  Wagyu beef was soft tender pull apart, just what I would expect (seriously cheap bulk buy butcher that supplies wagyu at prices ordinary folks can buy!). However, I will put some of the ideas into practice and see how I go with the more economical cut's.  I suspect that I did not have enough fluid in previous tries as i was trying to avoid making a soup!  big_smile

Last edited by Jaqui0 (Sun 21 Jun 09 12:10am)

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