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Nov 17, 2009 07:22 PM

Why didn't this recipe work?

Hi folks. I tried to make the above recipe tonight and I'm stumped as to what went wrong. A friend of mine has made it many times before (and, in fact, was making it simultaneously tonight 200 miles away) and I've eaten it so I know it works and what it should be like.

I did everything the same (except, as my friend has done many times, added the onions to the package). Usually, when he makes it, the whole apartment starts smelling really good; mine never did. When I took it out 4 hours later, the meat was still tough and the onions not fully cooked. He says that, when he makes it, it's already falling apart after about 2.5 hours.

Ok, so, it didn't cook long enough. What's baffling me is: Why? Afterward, I checked the oven temperature with a thermometer and it was reading about 245 degrees (with the oven set at 250). Seems close enough to me that it wouldn't make hours of difference.

Is it possible that I packed the meat in too tightly? Or could my using a double layer of foil keep heat out?

So baffled. Any ideas what happened?

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  1. There may be a difference in how deeply and thoroughly the two of you seared the ribs. You and your friend may have wrapped the meat differently. Since his cooked so fast, my guess is that the meat was in a single layer, topped with the onion. And you don't say if he checks the accuracy of his oven's thermostat. If yours was in a more compact pile, it would take a lot longer. Doubling the foil shouldn't be a problem, but it should be duller side out.

    1. Is it possible your oven isn't cycling on properly at that low temperature? Have you cooked other things at 250 for a long time with success?

      I don't know, because four hours is a really long time, even at that heat. Three pounds of ribs isn't that huge a batch, and I'd think even packed in a cylinder they'd cook after that amount of time -- provided the heat was OK. The onions being undercooked is another clue.

      1. Yeah, I agree that it's an oven problem, possibly not cycling properly, as dmd-kc said.
        What to do? Try it at a higher temp next time, say, 300* and cook for less time. That fact that your friend's ribs were falling apart after 2.5 hours says someting about his stove, too. Your's definitely should have been very tender after 4 hours of braising.
        Interesting name for this recipe, Good Eats Beef Stew. Not really stew and not really braised ribs, somewhere in's an Alton kind of thing.

        1. Thanks. All good points. I'm still not sure exactly which is right, but I'm not feeling quite so much like nothing makes sense in this crazy universe.

          3 Replies
          1. re: samhandwich

            Definitely buy an oven thermometer, turn your oven to 250 and check it every 20 mins for 2 hours. See if it's really at 250. I'd try the same at 300 and 400 for that matter to see how accurate it is.

            1. re: samhandwich

              I'm glad you're making sense of this universe, because I'm seeing double :)