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Boiled beef - meat pores (add to cool or boiling water?)

 
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david.mihola



Joined: 09 Feb 2006
Posts: 13
Location: Vienna, Austria

PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 3:47 pm    Post subject: Boiled beef - meat pores (add to cool or boiling water?) Reply with quote

Hello,

sorry if this has been discussed here, but a quick search in the forum didn't turn up what I was looking for.

My question is this: Boiled beef is an important part of Austrian/Viennese cuisine and so every cookbook has some recipes for Tafelspitz, etc. None of them fails to insist that you should add the beef only after the water is boiling so as to seal the pores and keep the meat tender, if you want to serve the meat itself.
If, on the other hand, you just wanted to use the stock/broth and to discard the meat, you should add the meat to the cool water, because this would allow the flavor of the meat to better diffuse into the water.

I am now asking you for your opinion regarding these theories, because I am not really sure about what to think: What is the current status of the "meat pores debate"? (Does meat have any pores? Can you seal them to reduce the loss of moisture? Do you need to sear the meat to do that, or does boiling also work?). What sense does it make to talk about keeping the meat tender, if the meat in question comes from the beef chuck and is not really tender to begin with?

Or to put it shortly: Any advice on boiling beef?

Thanks for any replies,

David
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Dilbert



Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 1024
Location: central PA

PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

methinks the debate is not unlike the "sear meat to keep in the juice"

I'm sure you've noticed that exposing meat to a sudden high temperature causes it to contract / shrink up a bit. hot pan sear or plunked into boiling water, it would seem a matter of 'degree' of effect.

in my own experience, starting either way, cooking beef at a rolling boil produces beef bowling balls. a slow simmer seems to work better for me.

I like to braise beef for 2-3 hours, cool, refrigerate, then re-braise for 1-2 hours - that produces really tender stuff. it can be extended to the point the meat basically falls apart - a bit like shredded bbq. technically I suppose the difference between boil and braise is the amount of water - partial vs. fully covered.

most of that I discovered quite by accident - wet cook a roast, first day it's firm - almost 'hard' - can be dry - definitely something to chew on.... reheat and it seems to break down and become more tender and more moist. I'm theorizing as the connective tissues break down more of the cooking liquid gets back into the meat....

for making a meat stock, I would dice or thick slice the meat to expose the maximum surface area. just a thought.
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david.mihola



Joined: 09 Feb 2006
Posts: 13
Location: Vienna, Austria

PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Absolutely! I'd say it's really a variation of the same discussion (I was referring to that when I asked about the "meat pores debate").

I did notice the shrinking but I am not sure wether this reduces loss of moisture or not (or, possibly, even increases it because the moisture is pressed out the meat as a consequence of the shrinking - like when you squeeze a sponge; I think that's also a theory I may have read about).

Anyway, cooking at a rather moderate temperature seems like a sensible advice, and I will try that the next time (read: tomorrow ;-) ).

Another thing I was wondering about: Is it possible that low temperature simmering has the same effect as low temperature roasting in the oven: Enhancing encyme activity (thus rapidly "aging" the meat and making it more tender) for some time before the encymes are killed/deactivated when the temperature gets too high.

Unfortunately I am no physicist and can't calculate the different temperature curves for poaching vs. simmering vs. boiling meat...

Your advice concerning stock also sounds sensible; I think I have even read a recipe for beef stock that starts with minced meat...

Thanks a lot for your reply!

David
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 4:31 pm    Post subject: Boiled beef - meat pores (add to cool or boiling water?) Reply with quote

Hi,

I was looking for Tafelspitz stories and tips when I came across this subject.

In my experience, and according to what I've seen an increasing number of people say, the "meat pore" thing is somewhat misunderstood. You can't really seal meat; if frying or grilling you can maybe reduce moisture loss very slightly by applying high heat to the surface first, but the effect is minimal.

The science part is actually quite simple. Meat contains varying amounts of a protein called collagen, also known as "connective tissue" (skin is almost pure collagen). The older the animal, the more the muscle has been used, and the shorter time the meat has matured, the more collagen it will contain, and the more difficult it is to cook properly. Collagen will be broken down into gelatine under moist conditions, such as braising or stewing, but it takes time. I'm sure you've all had that rich piece of gelatinous meat (be it pork, beef, mutton, or whatever) off a knuckle at some point -- for pork, think "bacon joint", "ham hock", "Schweinshaxe", "Eisbein", or "Stelze". I'm not familiar with equivalents from other cuisines, any takers? But that's exactly it.

If you don't break down enough of the collagen, the meat will be tough, but can still be quite OK (how much structure/chewishness a piece of meat has is more or less directly proportional to how much collagen it contains). The real problem with collagen is that even moderately high heat will cause it to contract long before it's broken down into gelatine. This doesn't matter much if the cut is low in collagen, as the contraction won't have much effect, but cuts high in collagen will be wrought dry, similar to wringing a sponge or a piece of cloth: you squeeze the moisture out of the meat, and unlike the case of a sponge, it isn't going to soak it up again.

Cooking meat is all about reaching the target temperature in the centre without overcooking (effectively, getting collagen contraction) in the outer layers. The thicker the cut is, and the higher the outside temperature is, the higher temperature differential you will have across the cut. Meat which is low in collagen can tolerate a high temperature differential across the cut, and you can therefore cook it at a high temperature (such as frying or grilling a steak, or roasting a joint at high temperature) over a relatively short period of time. You can of course still overcook it; correctly fried steak never exceeds 70-75C in the middle, even lower for a rare steak.

Meat which is high in collagen is much less tolerant, and unless your cooking temperature is so low that it itself can never cause collagen contraction, you will get collagen contraction, and the meat wrought dry in the outer layers, long before you've cooked the centre. Therefore, the way to cook tough meat is to use a low cooking temperature over a long time. British cooking scientist and three-star Michelin chef Heston Blumenthal has a beef recipe calling for cooking at 55C for 20 hours (yes, -twenty- hours), see link below.

Note that tough cuts should most definitely not be "boiled". Boiling, or even simmering, water is at 100C, and is way too hot. It will cause the collagen to contract and wring out all the juices, and the meat will never cook to become succulent and moist. You can keep cooking, and break down the collagen, but you'll eventually end up with a dry substance similar to papier mache.

My preferred slow cooking method uses the oven; it is critical that the temperature doesn't exceed 85C or so, and I find this is impossible to control on the hob. I'll start off on the hob and bring the water up to just under boiling, put in the ingredients, and then put the pot, well sealed with a tight fitting lid (I like to put some weights on top too), in the oven, pre-heated to 80-85C. (Many oven thermostats aren't as accurate as that, so you'll have to buy a proper thermometer to figure out what the oven setting should be.) Then cook for 2-3 hours or longer, depending on how thick the cut of meat is, but don't cook for too long; the longer you cook the more structure you lose, and eventually you can eat the meat with a spoon, which I find unpalatable. Feel free to experiment with lower temperatures; try 70C and 5-6 hours where you'd otherwise use 85C and 2-3 hours. The taste and texture varies considerably, but I personally don't like the flavour if cooked below 65C or so.

Here's the link to Blumenthal's day-long recipe:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/database/roastwingribofbeef_74821.shtml

I have to admit I think this is going too far, but I'm not going to argue with Heston Blumenthal.-)

-- Per
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Dilbert



Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 1024
Location: central PA

PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hmmm,

"1 x 2-bone rib of beef, wing end"

we probably need some english to english translation - that sounds a lot like what USA calls "prime rib" - which has "big end" and a "small end" - might be a more professional term for 'which end' - but that's what I call them and my butcher seems to understand me. . . . wing end might be the smaller? further from the shoulder? - or perhaps if it's a flying cow, the bigger end closer to the cow's wings?

have you seen the slow roast prime rib thread here?
http://www.cookingforengineers.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=329
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david.mihola



Joined: 09 Feb 2006
Posts: 13
Location: Vienna, Austria

PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 8:32 am    Post subject: Re: Boiled beef - meat pores (add to cool or boiling water?) Reply with quote

Anonymous wrote:
Hi,
If frying or grilling you can maybe reduce moisture loss very slightly by applying high heat to the surface first, but the effect is minimal.

[,,,]

Note that tough cuts should most definitely not be "boiled". Boiling, or even simmering, water is at 100C, and is way too hot. It will cause the collagen to contract and wring out all the juices, and the meat will never cook to become succulent and moist. You can keep cooking, and break down the collagen, but you'll eventually end up with a dry substance similar to papier mache.


So, if I understand you correctly: While the "sealing the pores"-effect is debatable even when searing or grilling (tender cuts) it is downright wrong to suggest the same effect when using moist heat (on tough cuts).

That would have been my intuition from what I've read elsewhere before and it's good to have that confirmed.

David
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kittrey



Joined: 19 Feb 2011
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 3:54 am    Post subject: Re: Boiled beef - meat pores (add to cool or boiling water?) Reply with quote

david.mihola wrote:


Or to put it shortly: Any advice on boiling beef?

Thanks for any replies,

David



I haven't tried yet, Boiling Beef.. Sad
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