Slow Cooker Blues: Corned Beef

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by souplvr, Feb 27, 2012.

  1. souplvr

    souplvr

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    Well...Our first attempt with a slow cooker was very disappointing.  We slow cooked a piece of corned beef in guinness, onions, celery, and carots for 10 hours on the lowest heat (expensive Cuisinart).  Result?  It was so dry it tasted like jerky.  I just don't get it.  Nearly every piece of meat I've been served from a slow cooker has been moist, succulent, and delicious.  Any advice/ideas?

    Thanks
     
  2. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Was It a Brisket or corned bottom round or other cut ? Was there enough liquid in the pot? Lots of factors to consider here.
     
  3. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    It sounds like it was overcooked. As to why it overcooked, chefed has some suggestions. 10 hours, you better have been on low, not high. But also time. The newer slow cookers cook at a higher temp out of food safety concerns. So you need to adjust times down in my opinion, about 10% roughly. 

    For oven or stovetop braising methods, it's usually about an hour per pound.

    If you had a very large corned beef, you may have possibly undercooked it. Brisket is a high collagen, tough cut of meat. To be tender and juicy you need to cook it to about 190-195 degrees in the center. Above 180, the collagen breaks down and remoistens the meat. If you try to eat it below 185 it's pretty darn unpleasant.  Get an instant read thermometer and use it next time you cook brisket. You'll know when it's done or at least know what went wrong (over/undercooked).

    The best Corned Beef I've had is made in the pressure cooker and is fairly fast. http://missvickie.blogspot.com/2009/03/corned-beef-and-all-fixings.html
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2012
  4. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Before the guessing continues, why don't you describe exactly what you did? Include the size of the roast, it's quality, whether you used additional liquid, the cooker's heat level, and anything else you can remember.

    Corned beef is well suited to slow cooking, and you should be able to do as good a job as the piece of meat allows you. Similarly, Cuisinart slow cookers are well regarded. It's unlikely the problem came from your new toy, but whatever it was I'm sure we can nail down.

    BDL
     
  5. souplvr

    souplvr

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    Thanks guys.  Here's a few specifics that might help:

    I followed Cuisinart instructions exactly with regard to weight of brisket (2 lbs), amount of liquid (3 cups to cover), and time (10 hours on low), except that I didn’t use water. I used equal amounts of low sodium beef broth and Guinness stout (as I have done before). It sure did seem that 10 hours was too long for that tiny piece of meat, but…that’s what it said. The meat remained covered by the liquid throughout the cooking time.  The meat itself came from a specialty market that only sells corned beef.
     
  6. maryb

    maryb

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    Way to long for that tiny piece of meat.
     
  7. chefedb

    chefedb

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    I can't for the life of me see 10 hours for 2 lbs. The meat would be denatured. Maybe their recipe is wrong,

    I have seen wrong recipes given on many things over the years.  I would call them and tell them the results of following their instructions to the letter as you say you did. At 10 hours for 2 pounds Hippo would be tender. What internal Temp did you reach?
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2012
  8. souplvr

    souplvr

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    That's what I would have thought.  Actually, I never thought to even check the internal temp.  We just took it out after 10hrs.  Could the Guinness and broth have caused it to cook at a higher temperature than I anticipated?
     
  9. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    I have found that almost every slow cooker recipe I've come across overestimates the time need for cooking.  10 hours might work for a large piece of meat meant to serve a larger number of people but for most cuts meant for home cooking I find 6-8 hours more than enough even if cooking on low.
     
  10. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Not sure but it would have a higher boiling point then plain water.
     
  11. carol0813

    carol0813

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    I'd pretty much given up on slow cooking too, until I found an abbreviated version of a cookbook from America's Test Kitchen entitled Slow Cooker Revolution.  As I suspected, there's a lot more to slow cooking than dumping ingredients into the machine and turning it on.  By following several of the recipes I've been quite surprised by the results.  Prep work is involved and although not difficult, can take a while, but the results are quite worth it.  The book also explains what types of dishes and cuts of meat benefit from this type of cooking.  Hope this helps.

    ~Carol
     
  12. saruman

    saruman

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    Its exactly as the above server posted about internal temperature. That is the only reliable method of testing for doneness, other than sticking your fork in and seeing if its "fork tender". Even a cheap $10 Taylor will do the trick. We just cooked one yesterday from Costco. It was 3.5 lbs in Hamilton Beach Crock Pot. We used WAY more than 1.5 cups of liquid recommended. In fact, with vegetables on the bottom of the cooker it required 3 cups of beef broth and 2 bottles of stout to cover the meat. The vegetables and brisket will float, so the liquid was to the top of the cooker.  Although our cooker has a built in thermometer probe (with a hole in the lid), we dont often use that.

    Now, while the USDA will say you need to reach an internal temperature of above 145 to 160, you must ignore that advice. You will have an incredibly tough, brick of meat.  We cooked on Low. At about 4 hours the internal temp was 160 degrees and the meat is still a brick. At about 8 hours it was around 180 degrees. At about 10 hours it was at 195 degrees. We still had two hours to go until dinner, so we set the cooker to Warm, and just let it sit in the broth for two hours. During that time the internal temperature dropped from 195 back down to around 180. It does not make the meat tough letting it sit in a warm broth. We measured the temp by lifting the brisket out of the water and going in horizontally (assuming its a rectangular cut) to the center.

    The resulting brisket was perfectly done. But even without a thermometer, its pretty obvious when the meat is ready. You can easily pull strips off the edges (i.e. its fork tender). The vegetables in the cooker are solely for flavor and aromatics. We never eat them. At the same time that prepare the cooker vegetables we essentially duplicate them, add new potatoes (cut in half), and place them in the fridge. About 30 mins before dinner toss the vegetables and potatoes with olive oil and cook in a 400 oven for 25 minutes. Too low an oven temp will lead to leathery vegetables. Too high will burn the bottoms. Both the vegetables (turnip, parsnip, carrot) and potatoes will come out perfect at the temp and time. If you add garlic cloves to the vegetables just know they will not carmelize in that amount of time.

    For the cabbage, take two cups of the beer/broth in a large pot. Add the cabbage cut into about 6 wedges, cover and boil/steam until tender (happens quickly).