Cooking meat at low temperatures: good things take time
Easy does it. Take your time and keep in mind the temperature and cooking time as each piece of meat requires a specific preparation which can be summed up as: rather lower and slower than quick and intense. Low-temperature cooking takes more time but often results in a much juicier end product. But why are we only talking about meat in this blog? Well, the answer is quite simple: because meat, fish, root vegetables, and other vegetables differ so much from one another that it will take more than one blog to explain it all.
Why a low temperature?
Low-temperature cooking is mainly used for red meat. The main components that determine the texture of the meat are: moisture, muscle proteins, and connective tissue. Approximately 75% of the meat consists of moisture that is retained by the connective tissue. The muscles are tender while the connective tissue tends to be tough. When the temperature of the meat rises to 55°C, more and more proteins solidify. The muscle cells are covered with a thin layer of collagen to protect them. The collagen can help the meat to retain its moisture, but at temperatures above 65 to 70°C it shrinks. To prevent the muscle cells from being wrung out like a sponge, controlling the temperature is important.
Connective tissue and low temperature
The connective tissue is therefore of great importance for the juiciness of your meat. When temperatures are too high, the connective tissue squeezes the moisture out of the meat, which often results in a tough piece of meat. The connective tissue can be made softer by letting it cook at 65 to 70°C for a longer period of time. Cooking is a science and the exact temperature depends on the type of meat.
It comes down to the following. If the meat contains:
- Lots of muscle + little connective tissue = temp > 55°C max 65°C
- Little muscle + lots of connective tissue = temp > 70°C max 120°C
How do I transfer the heat?
We distinguish between three methods of heat transfer: conduction, convection, and radiation. Low-temperature cooking corresponds to classical cooking methods using convection. This includes the hot air of the oven, a bouillon, and confiting in fat. A good example of slow-cooking is the classic preparation of butler’s steak. In a modern kitchen, low temperature cooking is easily achieved with, for example, a Sous Vide System or low-temperature oven. This equipment has been specially developed to keep the temperature stable and to ensure a gradual heat transfer.
When using this cooking method, take into account the growth of micro-organisms, as the temperature often doesn’t get high enough to kill them. Therefore, work very hygienically and cool the prepared products as quickly as possible if they are not immediately used.
On Gastronomixs you will find various recipes that are prepared at a low temperature, and we can assure you that they are definitely worth a look! Not a member but want to view the components? Sign up now and try out Gastronomixs for free for two weeks!