As we say goodbye to summer barbecues, we say hello to the season of cooking low and slow! When done right, cooking low and slow can unlock a world of flavour as well as an amazing melt-in-the-mouth texture. What’s more, it allows us to enjoy some of the tougher cuts, promoting a nose to tail mentality that encourages us to eat all of the animal. Read on to discover our top tips for cooking low and slow.
Start with your Marinade
Whether it’s herbs, spices, oils or your own special sauce – marinating your meat in advance allows the flavour to penetrate the meat and also works to tenderise and add moisture. You should massage the marinade into the meat at least a few hours before cooking, ideally overnight for maximum effect! Don't cover your meat in sauce before searing though, marinade it and make up additional sauce to add to the dish once its got a good lick of colour on it :).
Seal the Deal
Searing a large cut of meat helps to improve both taste and appearance, as well as locking in moisture. You can do this by heating a pan until it is scorching hot, adding butter and then using a pair of tongs, make sure each surface is seared until completely browned. Not only does this enhance the flavour and texture of the meat but it will also leave a delicious sediment in the pan which is the great base for a tasty sauce or gravy – use a drop of hot water to deglaze and release all of those gorgeous meaty flavours!
Low and Slow
The clue is in the name when it comes to cooking low and slow! Cooking meat at a lower temperature means that it takes longer to cook, hence slower. Here’s how to get it right…
- Start from Room Temperature – Take your meat out of the refrigerator around 1-2 hours in advance to allow it to reach room temp, that way it will start to cook straight away and it should cook more evenly thanks to a consistent internal temperature.
- Choose your Low and Slow – Most conventional ovens have a minimal setting of around 70°C, but low and slow cooking can be anywhere between 70 - 100°C. This is a low enough temperature to cook the meat over a prolonged period of time without dehydrating it or making it tough.
- Use a Thermometer – When cooking low and slow it can be hard to be sure that the meat is cooked through, and you don’t want to open the oven too much or you’ll drop the already low temperature even further. Instead, try to judge how cooked the meat is just by appearance, and use a thermometer to check the centre of the meat is cooked to your liking only after a good few hours. Remember, temperature is a good indication of how well-done the meat is, so do your research to find out what you’re aiming for before you begin!
Be Patient, let it Rest!
When your beautiful chunk of meat is fresh out the oven it’ll look and smell so amazing that you’ll have your sharpened knife at the ready! But as hard as it may be, you must resist the urge to dive straight in and start carving. When fresh out the oven, the water present in meat produces steam, which creates pressure and can force liquid out as you begin to carve. Allowing meat to rest gives time for this pressure to drop as the water cools, which locks moisture into the meat instead of spilling it out onto your chopping board!
Remember, you can cook low and slow in a conventional oven or by using a slow cooker. Your local butcher is the best person to inform you of how best to cook different cuts of meat – don’t be afraid to ask exactly what time and temperature they (we ;)) would expertly recommend!