Some questions about stews -- times, temperatures, acids, ethyl alcohol, brine:
Take some cubes, roughly 1 1/2 inches on an edge, say, 6 pounds, of relatively tough lean meat, e.g., beef bottom round roast, for flavor, lightly brown (Maillard and all that), cover with a water based liquid, heat on stove top to X degrees F, cover, place in an oven at X degrees F for Y hours. Then chill uncovered.
Remove layer of fat on top. Remove meat and keep moist. Make a gravy of the liquid. Combine meat chunks with other ingredients, say, brown glazed 'boiler' onions, chunks of carrots and potatoes, sauteed mushrooms, pour over gravy, heat to, say, X degrees F again until vegetables are nearly cooked, chill uncovered.
To serve, warm a portion in microwave.
Q. 1. My first-cut understanding is that cooking temperature X needs to be high enough to kill bacteria and to melt collagen but low enough not to ruin the proteins and that cooking time Y needs to be long enough to let the collagen melt at temperature X. Is this roughly correct?
Or, the danger is that temperature too high too long will ruin the proteins and cause the meat cubes to be brittle, dark, hard, dry (seen this often enough)?
Would what works for cubes of beef bottom round promise to work well for tough lean meat from game, four legs or two?
Q. 2. Is there a real danger of the initial browning step, if too hot too long, ruining the proteins throughout the meat cubes?
Q. 3. In my last trial, used cooking temperature X = 180 F and cooking time Y = 24 hours. What would be the pros/cons of different values?
Q. 4. In my last trial of 6 pounds of meat, included in the water based liquid 1 cup of distilled white vinegar. What effect might the vinegar have and why? Is the effect just lowering pH or a reaction of the acetic acid? What might be the pros/cons of different amounts of vinegar or other acids?
Q. 5. If the water based liquid is to include some wine, beer, or other source of ethyl alcohol, should the alcohol liquid be boiled first to evaporate the alcohol?
Q. 6. Is brining the cubes, say, for 24 hours, before the browning harmful, useless, helpful, essential?
Q. 7. My fake Memphis BBQ is to take a fresh 'picnic' pork shoulder, about 10 pounds, place on a rack with cut side up, set rack in a roasting pan, cover the cut side with a dry rub, say, Emeril's Essence, insert a meat thermometer, place in a 225 F oven until thermometer reads 185 F, about 16 hours, discard skin and bone, coarsely chop the rest. For one sandwich, take a large white bread bun, lightly toast cut surfaces, top with 4 ounces of the meat, top with warm commercial BBQ sauce, top with drops of hot sauce, top with coleslaw.
Somehow the pork easily essentially always comes out 'succulent' -- soft, flexible, juicy, nearly butter soft -- with little danger of being brittle, dark, hard, dry. Why is it so much easier to get succulent results from pork shoulder than from beef bottom round?
Edited by project, 09 November 2004 - 02:13 PM.