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A braising question -- how much time in the oven?

Might be a simple answer. Thanks in advance...

All my recipe books say to braise a chuck roast for around 3 hours at 300 degrees, but the recipe calls for 6 pounds of chuck. If I'm cooking only 2 pounds, should I be cutting the time down? 2 pounds at 300 degrees for 3 hours seems to dry it out.

Thanks.

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  1. That's a big difference is size so naturally it will alter the final time. You could also cook it at a lower temp. 225-250. It will take longer than at 300 but will have a less drying effect. I would brown the meat first then into a cold oven and braise. Let the temp come up gradually. After a couple hours check for fork tenderness. If not done then check every 30 min or so. Let cool in the braising liquid as it will reabsorb some of the liquid.

    6 Replies
    1. re: scubadoo97

      hi scubadoo,

      Your technique is good, but I would be careful about starting it from cold. It's dangerous to keep the meat below 140 for too long because that's the "danger zone" where bacteria can develop. With a small braise this shouldn't be an issue, but a large amount of braising liquid in a 225 oven has a risk of spoiling.

      I bring the liquid to a near-boil first when I braise. That eliminates the risk factor and will speed up the process without really leading to any drying out it the end. That said, low and slow is the way to go.

      1. re: dbocking

        Yes I understand the danger zone. After browning and the addition of aromatics and liquid that is brought up to simmer there would be little danger that the meat would drop below 140 for 4 hours to pose a risk. The use of a cold oven was suggested by McGee

        1. re: scubadoo97

          Just out of curiosity, what was his reasoning for a cold oven?

          1. re: schoenfelderp

            This was a recommendation per Harold McGee On Food and Cooking/Cooking Fresh Meats

            Page 163
            Guidelines for Succulent Braises and Stews
            "Start the pot with meat and cooking liquid in a cold oven, the pot lid ajar to allow some evaporation and set the thermostat to 200*F, so that it heats the stew to around 120*F over two hours.

            Raise the oven temperature to 250*F so that the stew slowly warms from 120*F to180*F

            After and hour, check the meat every half hour and stop the cooking whine it's is easily penetrated by the tines of a fork. Let the meat cool in the stew where it will reabsorb some liquid"

            1. re: scubadoo97

              This does go against what they teach you in food safety classes, but those sources tend to freak out if meat is in the danger zone for even minutes. McGee knows what he's talking about and I'm sure it he does it this way, it's safe.

              McGee is a frequent guest on the Cooking Issues show with Dave Arnold. Dave talks a lot about low temp cooking, so he is a good source too.

              If you haven't checked the show out already here's the link:
              http://www.heritageradionetwork.com/p...

              1. re: dbocking

                I recently read an article by Nathan Myhrvold on food safety in which he discussed the fact that pork and chicken are cooked way further than what is needed for general safety. He mentioned pork could be cooked rare but that currently people have an expectation of how pork should be and that is medium to medium well. The risk of trichinosis is so rare with pork that there is little reason to worry about it. He made mention that salmonella in chicken is killed at much lower temperatures than 160*F.

    2. I don't claim to be an expert on braising, but I'll share with you what I understand.

      Braising is done low and slow to melt the fat and gelatinous matter in tough cuts of meat, making them super tender. Oven braising typically occurs around 250-275F, just above the boiling point of water, because the braising liquid will never actually go above 212F. I've actually been curious as to why some recipes call for temperatures significantly higher than this so if anyone would like to share why that would be great.

      I'm not sure why your meat would dry out during braising although I would make sure its completely immersed in the braising liquid, and use a parchment paper lid to allow some reduction of the braising liquid, but not all.

      4 Replies
      1. re: schoenfelderp

        Some do claim that the best braise requires that the liquid stay below 212F. I"m not entirely convinced. It may make the meat, or some meat, more tender, but I've gotten meat just as tender in pressure cooker, or pot where the liquid is bubbling all the time. Putting the oven at 350 won't ruin the braise, though I'd keep a closer eye on the liquid levels.

        1. re: paulj

          Thanks, everyone, for the help! Much appreciated! Will give it a try.

        2. re: schoenfelderp

          On America's Test Kitchen, Chris Kimbel said that their tests showed that 325 F is the best temperature to oven braise. He said that at an oven temperature of 325 F, the braising liquid would be gently bubbling and cooking at 185 F.

          I'm not sure why the braising liquid would not reach at least the boiling point of 212 F in a 325 F oven.

          1. re: Norm Man

            Was that in covered pan or open?

            If you have remote probe meat thermometer you could test this for yourself (it might require a foil cover if there isn't a vent hole in the dutch oven lid).

            The hot air in an oven is not a very good heat conductor - not nearly as good as metal or water. Still my experience suggests that the braising liquid in a 325 oven will be closer to 212 than 185.