tough pot roast - overcooked or not cooked long enough?
so i cooked a roast in a slow cooker (along with pearl onions, red bliss potatoes, and baby carrots) under low heat for close to 10 hours. when i checked on it later, the roast was tough. how can i tell if this was a result of overcooking versus not cooking the roast long enough?
the only reason i'm thinking i may not have cooked it long enough was because the vegetables themselves were not necessarily soft even after 10 hours. i'm thinking, was this particular slow cooker at low temperature setting cooking even lower than it should be?
at this point, i don't know what to do. do i just set the slow cooker at high setting and cook the roast for a couple hours more? or did i already overcook the roast so that there's nothing i can do at this point?
your recommendations appreciated!
If the vegetables are underdone after 10 hrs. and the meat is still tough, something's wrong with your slow cooker (and it's probably not at a safe temperature). I would remove everything to a pot or pan, cover, and finish on the stovetop or in a medium oven. Sorry you're having so much trouble!
The simple test for the meat is to see if it is *Fork Tender*, which means you can stick a fork into the meat and pull out easily. You can also check the connective tissue to see if it separates easily, which means it is sufficiently melted. If the meat is easily shred able.... then for me it's over-cooked, but some prefer it that way.
The "low" setting on some slow cookers is intended for keeping food hot enough to serve after it's fully cooked but not hot enough to fully cook the food in any reasonable amount of time. Those require "slow cooking" to be done on one of the higher settings. Only your instruction manual or a test over time can answer that question for your appliance.
I have an inexpensive but very efficient slow cooker that has only two settings. The low setting would never fully cook a roast within a 10 hour period but the high setting produces a roast that literally falls apart when poked with a fork after 8 - 9 hours. If I'm using it for a few I add the vegetables about half way through the cooking time. Good stuff .....
Thanks all! Your advice was extremely helpful as I now am more comfy in knowing the difference between overcooked and barely cooked. And more importantly, I was still able to salvage the roast!
I also learned the hard way that you usually have to cook much longer than expected with slow cookers, and now I always cook on high.