HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Why did Slow Cooker Beef Burgundy turn out dry?

do the 'hounds know what happened? I made my first-ever crock pot meal--beef burgundy. Used 3 lb Sirloin roast as recipe indicated, carrots, mushrooms, onion, celery, and a bottle of Pinot Noir. Cook on "Low" for 8 hours. Vegi's were awesome, meat was falling-apart tender, but DRY! Sauce/Gravy helped, but not much. I don't get it. What happened? Cooked too long? Not long enough?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. First problem: sirloin roast. Not enough fat. You shouldn't start with a lean cut like sirloin. Try chuck next time. Chuck has more fat and connective tissue that breaks down and keeps the meat moister.

    Also possibly cooked too long.

    Cooking meat too long dries it out -- that's physics. It'll be very tender but dry. When people say (re: stew, pot roast, etc) that you can't cook it too long, they're wrong.

    But I'd use a difft. cut of meat and follow the recipe and see if that helps.

    Also, for beef burgandy, the meat should have been cut into chunks. Many recipes (the best ones) call for the beef to be marinated in the wine and aromatics overnight before cooking -- definitely do this.

    1 Reply
    1. re: C. Hamster

      I'm going to agree with C. hamster, and add that all pot roasts are technically dry. It's the fat and collegen from the connective tissues that give the moist mouthfeel.

      I did a test in my slow cooker to see how long a chuck roast would improve. I expected to let this test run for days, thinking it might get better and better as it went. WAY WRONG!!! After three hours in MY slowcooker it turned the corner from tender, juicy and flavorful to dry and eventually mushy. Someone said that low on today's slow cookers may actually not be as low as it used to be, so I suspect that's also to blame.

      FYI: I used merlot and some stock. the acidity probably increased the mushiness. I assume using a less acidic medium might allow for a little longer cooking.

    2. I have had the same problem when using a slow cooker to make a beef pot roast and also a beef stew. For a pot roast , I have used a chuck or blade roast which should be ok for a pot roast. At least it would be when cooking the traditional way.
      When I made a beef stew using beef cubes called stewing beef , the meat also was very dry. I am new at using a crockpot and was quite dissappointed with the results.

      1. Also, if it was an older recipe, older crockpot's "low" was much lower than the newer models "low", so you may have cooked it too long, despite what the recipe said.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Katie Nell

          Really!? I've been looking at getting a newer, nicer one, but if I have to learn how to make everything all over again, I might just stick with Old Faithful.

          1. re: heatherkay

            Yep, I have "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook" and they have written all the recipes for newer crockpots, so they advise if you have an older one, that you will have to adjust your time and possibly even temp.

        2. You might try a cheaper, fatter cut of meat like Chuck Roast, cut into 2' cubes. Sirloin is so low in fat, there isn't enough moisture to cook a stew properly. You should test your lid as well, and make sure the seal is tight. If not, you can make a flour and water paste dough and wrap it around on the outside to form a seal.

          1. one more vote for cooking such a lean cut of beef for too long a time.....but there is one other step you could take to help keep whatever beef you use stay moist: toss it with flour before you brown the beef. the flour will help seal in the meat's juices but even this step won't help if you cook it for 8 hours.....you can taste as you go but I'm thinking you might only need 1.5 to two hours?

            1 Reply
            1. re: gordon wing

              Searing the meat to keep in the juices is a popular myth, but it is a myth. See Harold McGee on "The Searing Question" in /On Food and Cooking/ page 161. McGee gives a short history, but the basic takeaway is: "The crust that forms around the surface of the meat is not waterproof ... But searing does flavor the meat surface with products of browning reactions ... Liebig and his followers were wrong about meat juices, but they were right that searing makes delicious meat." Also, when using a slow cooker, searing the meat dramatically improves the appearance of the result (versus unseared nastiness).

            2. I use the crock pot a lot, and if it is a large piece of meat,I often begin by begin cooking the meal the night before.
              I generally use a pork butt for mexican stews like chili colorado, and black eyed peas, and never a promlem with it being dry, it is tender and juicy with lots of flavor.

              1. We always use sirloin tip roasts (cubed) for Beef Burgundy. And cook it long and slow. I guess there is so much added liquid it's never gone dry. After searing the floured meat in bacon fat, we use burgundy to deglaze the pan, and that all goes on top of the meat. I have no idea if this is correct, but it's never failed and the meat is always tender, not dry. At the end, I'll add in a roux to thicken. I would say that there have been times the burgundy was too alcoholic in there when cooked in a crock pot as opposed to the oven. The alcohol bite was still there, it didn't evaporate off. (And we tend to buy cheaper burgundy for this, a mistake the last time.) I guess I prefer Beef Burgundy in the oven on low to the slowcookers because of this. But would like to try a pressure cooker on this.

                1. As the other posters have said, use a fatty cut of meat and cut down on the timing for old recipes. Did you brown the meat? If not make sure you do. Also, did you add the wine raw to the sauce? It will tast much better if it brought to a boil first and then cooled and added.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: JudiAU

                    I agree, definitely brown the meat first.

                  2. I used a sirloin tip roast, browned the meat first (didn't flour it, though) and added the wine raw to the slow cooker. I used a Pinot Noir as I had no true "burgundy" on hand. I also sauteed the vegi's first. There was good flavor, there was plenty of liquid, it was just dry "mouthfeel" as one responder called it. I think it was the lack of fat, and cooked too long. Thanks, all!!!

                    Next try in the crock pot--coq o vin. Any good recipes???

                    1. You want to be careful about too much liquid too. Could boil the meat and therefore cause dryness. It may fall apart but still be dry if it gets boiled. I have made this mistake before in the slow cooker. It seems I am constantly battling it. I think 5-6 hours is usually how long it takes on my All Clad on low, of course, the size of the roast makes a difference too. I agree with all the comments about a fattier cut of meat. Look for marbled, not fat on one end.

                      1. Let's think about what is happening.

                        Since so many people quote Harold McGee, he points out the dichotomy of cooking meat to the meltingly tender stage (when the collagen melts around 160F). Unfortunately this is way beyond the point when the proteins in the meat have stetched themselves taut and driven out any fluids left in the muscle sheath (which is reached at about 140F). So we get meltingly tender dry meat.

                        Here is where I get a little unclear. I know that if I placed some browned short ribs in a vacuum bag, added some reduced wine, carrots, onions, etc., sealed the bag shut under a vacuum, chilled it, then placed said bag in a water bath of 140F for 36 hours, I would get meltingly tender and juicy short ribs.

                        But how am I avoiding the risk of growing a nice colony of Salmonella? Turns out that heating, cooling, heating is also effective in stopping bacteria from growing.

                        But what about the collagen? Collagen just doesn't melt until it hits 160F. Is there something else going on?

                        Maybe the extended cooking time melts the collagen. Anybody know?

                        1. My new toy is a small crock pot and have had unbelievable meals this winter. Its hard to find a nice piece of meat on the bone (my favorite) - Albertsons for instance and of course Whole foods has banished bones it seems. Fortunately there is the Mercardo which has clumpy pot roasts which crock pot wonderfully (the last one I refrigerated and ate the next day and took an inch of fat off the top - it was truly delicious). I usually cook on high for about 3-4 hours after browning the meat; add a little flour later but love JudiAu's hint to boil the wine before adding it to the pot. I'm making meaty country ribs with cabbage and fennel seeds tomorrow.
                          Then I follow my cousin Natalie's advice, she of the Cordon Bleu School - that if a receipe calls for one onion, make it two or three. Works.