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Cooking meat at boiling point

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

 

I would like to discuss one point about cooking meat at relatively high temperatures (very close or equal to 212 F or 100C) in moist environment.

 

We all know that at a certain temperature meat's fat is getting liquid, collagen shrinks and squeeze juices and fats out of meat. As a result, meat gets dry and has unpleasant texture similar to papier mache.

 

On the other hand, I know a number of traditional dishes when meat is cooked in a liquid at a temperature very close or equal to 212F (I saw a lot of bubbles on liquid's surface and sometimes measured it with thermometer). And at the end meat gets nice, tasty and moist. All of these dishes have some things in common - relatively small pieces of meat (about 1 - 2 inches), pretty long time of cooking (2-3 hours or even more) and the meat is usually lamb or soft cuts of beef.

 

As for me, I have a theory that due to a long cooking time and high temperature, connective tissues dissolve and stop squeezing fibers. At the same time, natural liquid inside of meat gets boiling, extend and separate fibers from each other. As a result, forces that keep fibers together are getting weak and cooking liquid is getting inside of meat pieces, making them moist.

 

I would be grateful if you'll share your opinion about this theory. I know, that it has some weak points, looks strange from common point of view and maybe I'm totally mistaken. But I don't have better explanation. :)

 

Thanks in advance,

 

 

 

 

post #2 of 18

I believe you are referring to a stew.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #3 of 18

Meat does not have to be cut in small pieces for this to work.  Nor does it have to be only beef or lamb.  And it doesn't have to boil, it can slowly simmer. 

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefedb View Post

I believe you are referring to a stew.



Not exactly. As far as I know, stews are usually cooked far below boiling point, around 175F, so this is not the case.

 

What I was thinking about is Mid.Eastern pilaf (plov) and some Italian stews. Sometimes it is said that they should be simmered, but in practice people don't really care about it and keep temperature much higher. At least, that's what I saw, tasted and repeated by myself. 

 

Actually, there are a lot of references saying that meat should not be heated to a temperature of boiling water or it will get dry. I'm just wondering, how it happens that meat that is definitely heated to this temperature is moist and not dry at all.

post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post

 And it doesn't have to boil, it can slowly simmer. 


Right, but what happens when it boil? How it comes out that it was boiled, but became moist and tasty? :)

post #6 of 18

Meat cooked at high temperature will shrink and dry out. It may be "fork-tender", but I like to make the distinction between chewable and truly tender. Meat cooked a long time to "fork-tender" is basically very chewable but not tender. A high quality cut of beef cooked medium rare is tender.

 

I do a lot of sous vide cooking. Recently I sous vide cooked corned beef to 130F. I measured the shrinkage, it was less than 25%. You know that corned beef cooked the normal way will shrink to about 50%. Very juicy and tender corned beef cooked sous vide.

 

dcarch

post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dcarch View Post

Meat cooked at high temperature will shrink and dry out. It may be "fork-tender", but I like to make the distinction between chewable and truly tender. Meat cooked a long time to "fork-tender" is basically very chewable but not tender. A high quality cut of beef cooked medium rare is tender.


Tenderness is another point. I absolutely agree that fibers of meat that was cooked at low or medium temperatures are more tender than fibers of a meat that was cooked at high temperature. Apparently, that's because proteins coagulate in slightly different ways at different temperatures.

 

 


I do a lot of sous vide cooking. Recently I sous vide cooked corned beef to 130F. I measured the shrinkage, it was less than 25%. You know that corned beef cooked the normal way will shrink to about 50%. Very juicy and tender corned beef cooked sous vide.

 

I like cooking low&slow too and do it quite often, but I'm still a little bit scared when it comes to cooking in "danger zone", i.e. lower that 140F. :) Well, I really trust my butcher. But I don't trust that much. :)))

 

post #8 of 18

If it bubbles its at least 212 f.  Sousvide  any meat cooked over 140 f is termed denatured.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefedb View Post

If it bubbles its at least 212 f.  Sousvide  any meat cooked over 140 f is termed denatured.

 

Honestly, I asked professional biochemist to explain me a difference between denaturation and coagulation of proteins. It looks to me that coagulation is a subset of denaturation, but I won't say that I really understand what is all about, except breaking protein's structure. :))))

 

 

ps. alcohol bubbles around 173F. :))))))

post #10 of 18
This effect is most pronounced with the tough cuts that are braised, stewed, or barbecued. Think brisket, pork shoulder and so on.

The protiens contract and squeeze out water. At 160, when "well done" they'll by dry and tough. You keep on cooking them and they hit about 180 and stop getting hotter for a while. In barbecue, this is called the plateau or stall. When something stops changing temperature even though you're sill applying energy, this is indicative of a phase change. Think water turning to steam. temp stays at the boiling point and the steam is also the same temperature though it has more absorbed heat in the steam phase.

The collagen in the meat is breaking down and rewetting the meat. Which also reduces the toughness of the meat at that point. This process continues and most people pull them at the 190-95 internal temp point. A long rest is beneficial for these cuts for the most even moistness and quality.
post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by romanas View Post


Right, but what happens when it boil? How it comes out that it was boiled, but became moist and tasty? :)



I don't know how that happened but I'm willing to bet that it's a difference of opinion.  It may not be moist and tasty to my taste buds.  I'm not willing to do an experiment of my own since I like the results that braising gives. 

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #12 of 18

Sous vide of corned beef?  Sounds like that would take a week.

 

Anyways, the ultimate example of what this thread is about is meat cooked in a pressure cooker.  In any other situation, the water inside the meat can only get to 212--in a pressure cooker it can get much higher on the inside.  This changes the texture dramatically, breaks down connective tissue ~3x faster due to higher heat, but actually causes less drying out as the boiling point of whatever liquid has been raised by the nature of a pressure cooker.

post #13 of 18

Check out: http://www.scienceofcooking.com/meat/slow_cooking1.htm

Here its explained pretty simple.

post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by olechef View Post

Check out: http://www.scienceofcooking.com/meat/slow_cooking1.htm

Here its explained pretty simple.


 

Guys, I really beg you. :))) I opened this thread not to discuss meat cooking at temperatures around or below 160F. I was talking about temperatures around 212F.

 

212F and 160F are different universes. :))

post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by benway View Post

Anyways, the ultimate example of what this thread is about is meat cooked in a pressure cooker.  In any other situation, the water inside the meat can only get to 212--in a pressure cooker it can get much higher on the inside.  This changes the texture dramatically, breaks down connective tissue ~3x faster due to higher heat, but actually causes less drying out as the boiling point of whatever liquid has been raised by the nature of a pressure cooker.


Thank you for great example!

 

Although, I'm not sure that I understand how raising of the boiling point causes less drying out, because boiling point raises in meet and in liquid more or less at the same time. 

post #16 of 18
We're talking about meat cooking at the boiling point.

But the meat itself is not at that temp. Cooking is about transferring energy into the food to raise its temperature to achieve particular reactions in the structure, flavor, and food safety of that cut of meat. Meat brought to an internal temp of boiling will not be of good eating quality.

The temp you cook at and the temp of the meat are different. If you cooked meat to the itnernal temp of boiling, it will not be good dish. When I'm braising, the liquid is very close to the boiling point. The internal temp of hte meat is not. I'm bringing the internal temp of the meat up to a particular target temp in a method that maximizes the quality of the dish. Water is a better conductor of heat than air so braising tends to be pretty efficient in terrms of cooking time.

Same for barbecue. Ideal cooking temp is 250, but the internal temp of the meat shouldn't reach that high or it will be ruined. And where air is conducting the heat, it's a much slower, longer process as the heat transfer to the meat is inefficient.

Where I live, my boiling point is 202 degrees. This creates some extra difficulty in pot roasting or barbecue because the leeway between a target temp of 195 and the boiling point isn't that much. It's much easier to overshoot and overcook something.

In the case of the pressure cooker, you cook for much less time, usually only 1/3 to /12 of normal cooking times, or you overcook the meat.
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 

phatch,

 

I really value you opinion and your contribution to this thread. And I would absolutely agree with you, if I didn't taste meat that was definitely exposed to boiling temperature (I mentioned small pieces and long cooking) and that was moist and tasty. Well, you can say that this is a matter of personal taste. I will agree again. But that's why I referred to traditional dishes that were cooked for centuries. Sure, I can make a mistake about taste. But lots of people who live in particular area and cook something in particular way for years? No, they can't. :)

 

Actually, I think that there is a gap between common opinion about rules of meat cooking that say that meat should never be heated to boiling temperature. And a real life, that shows that sometimes in some cases it may be heated to this temperature and the result will be good. :)) 

 

For example, when I have a decent cut of marbled beef tenderloin from Texas, I don't even think about heating it to anything higher than 70C because this temperature will definitely ruin it's taste, natural juice and natural fat. But if I'll have a cut of Mid.Asian lamb fillet, I'll certainly consider cooking it around boiling point, according to some Mid.Asian techniques.

 

 

ps. It's really impressive that you live THAT high. I wish I had a chance to cook something at about 5000 ft. :)

post #18 of 18

Pressure cooker also cooks under pressure  or forced internal and external heat. Like Broasted fried chicken it to is cooked under pressure.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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