HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Cooking time concept eludes me. Please help one more time

mucho gordo Apr 6, 2014 05:57 PM

I know we've gone over this before but I seem to have a mental block about it. If you have a 4 lb roast and cut it in half, do you cook it as though it's 4 lbs or 2 lbs (half the time for a 4 pounder)?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Ruth Lafler RE: mucho gordo Apr 6, 2014 06:03 PM

    Half the time.

    1. John E. RE: mucho gordo Apr 6, 2014 06:09 PM

      It also depends on the thickness of the meat.

      1. KarenDW RE: mucho gordo Apr 6, 2014 06:30 PM

        Use the 2 lb timing as a guide, but it might take a bit longer, depending upon the size of the oven. i.e., adding 4 lbs of room temp (or cooler) product to the oven/bbq will reduce the overall temperature by more than adding a single 2 lb piece.

        1. r
          rjbh20 RE: mucho gordo Apr 6, 2014 06:30 PM

          Use a thermometer, not a clock. Regardless of the size.

          10 Replies
          1. re: rjbh20
            tastesgoodwhatisit RE: rjbh20 Apr 6, 2014 08:42 PM

            But thermometers lack predictive powers - they won't tell you if your meat will be ready at approximately the time you want to eat, or too early, or too late.

            1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
              John E. RE: tastesgoodwhatisit Apr 6, 2014 09:56 PM

              That's where experience and confidence in your experience comes in.

              1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
                Harters RE: tastesgoodwhatisit Apr 7, 2014 03:13 AM

                I agree. We always cook by time, not thermometer. It's how our cookbooks are usually written.

                1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
                  Zalbar RE: tastesgoodwhatisit Apr 7, 2014 12:52 PM

                  Gonna say this one more time. You cook meat until it's DONE to the temp you want, including the 5-10 degree rise from resting.

                  Get thermometers, they're cheap. Using time/lbs is a recipe for disaster. Learn to hold your food and don't be dumb when you toss it in the oven.

                  Recipe books that use time per lbs are wrong. Toss them.

                  Recipe books that use volumetric measurements for everything instead of weight are also wrong. Toss those as well.

                  1. re: Zalbar
                    Harters RE: Zalbar Apr 7, 2014 02:34 PM

                    If I tossed those of our collection of around 75 books which use time per weight, then I would have nothing left in my collection.

                    1. re: Zalbar
                      melpy RE: Zalbar Apr 7, 2014 02:38 PM

                      If I have no concept of how long i will be testing every five minutes. Plus there is no way to plan what time I want to eat or when to cook everything else. Yes I am going use the thermometer to be sure it is done the way I want but I am not going to check every minute to see this.

                      1. re: melpy
                        rudeboy RE: melpy Apr 7, 2014 03:28 PM

                        It's easy to cook to temp when you have a flexible dinner time, within limits, and cook the sides to temp while resting the main item.

                        1. re: melpy
                          Zalbar RE: melpy Apr 8, 2014 07:04 AM

                          They come with timers and alarms these days. Bell goes off, pull it from the oven, set to rest. All done.

                      2. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
                        zackly RE: tastesgoodwhatisit Apr 8, 2014 07:26 AM

                        So what? Most roasts stay warm for quite awhile in a warm place or covered with foil. Meat tastes better served warm than it does hot. Experience will teach you how to roast. I've been cooking for a long time both professionally and @ home so I can usually tell by looking, touching & smelling a roast when it's time to pull it from the oven, providing I know the oven temperature . Carmelization, touch, aroma, shrinkage all factor into this. Buy a thermometer and check frequently during to cooking process. I started cooking before the instant read thermometers were commonplace so we just ran a skewer through the meat, wiped it clean, then ran it under our noses (a very sensitive area) to test for doneness. This gave you a complete picture on how th meat was cooking from surface to center and how much carry over cooking to anticipate. Don't be a slave to time/temperature charts they only offer a less than accurate guideline.

                      3. re: rjbh20
                        KarenDW RE: rjbh20 Apr 6, 2014 09:27 PM

                        When cooking for others, I like the predictive element of estimated cooking time. At the very least, I can make a plan, and also make a plan for holding the finished roasted meat until meal time.

                      4. sal_acid RE: mucho gordo Apr 6, 2014 06:35 PM

                        Depends on the shape of the meat and the cut to a degree.

                        If you cut a log (eg a roast) of meat in half it would be about half the time....perhaps a little more than half

                        But if its a slab, eg a brisket, the cooking time would be the same since the thinnest dimension hasn't changed.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: sal_acid
                          greygarious RE: sal_acid Apr 6, 2014 07:01 PM

                          Some clarification may be in order. I think in the first instance, you meant if the log is cut lengthwise, so as to halve the thickness. Cut crosswise, there's the same overall thickness in one direction, but half in the latter. Those pieces will take longer than a "log" halved lengthwise.

                          1. re: greygarious
                            sal_acid RE: greygarious Apr 6, 2014 09:03 PM

                            I meant if the log is cut in the middle, preserving the maximal thickness in both halves.

                        2. Robin Joy RE: mucho gordo Apr 6, 2014 07:13 PM

                          Are you asking about cooking both halves at the same time?

                          1. mucho gordo RE: mucho gordo Apr 7, 2014 10:15 AM

                            Let me clarify the situation. I had 2 2lb 'round' roasts for a total of 4 pounds of meat. Do I cook it as if it was one 4 pound piece of meat or one 2 pounder? It just doesn't seem right to be able to cook 4 lbs of meat in the same amount of time it takes to cook 2 lbs.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: mucho gordo
                              travelerjjm RE: mucho gordo Apr 7, 2014 10:22 AM

                              Well, it sort of does. Imagine two separate ovens. You could clearly cook four pounds in the time it takes to cook two pounds that way, right? Well, a second roast in the same oven is similar, but it will take a bit longer for the oven to recover its temp with two roasts. If you let the roasts get to room temp before cooking, and if you cook low and slow, the impact of the second roast should be minimal, however.

                              I do recommend a thermometer, though. All cuts of meat are different (as we've heard here on Chow frequently), not to mention starting temp, meat moisture, etc. so going by time is not necessarily very accurate.

                              1. re: travelerjjm
                                greygarious RE: travelerjjm Apr 7, 2014 10:33 AM

                                Good example and explanation!

                            Show Hidden Posts