Low & Slow Comfort Food

Roast, brisket and short ribs – all cuts of meat that are best cooked at a low temperature for several hours. The technique helps break down the fibers in the meat, builds flavor and gives you that melt in your mouth, fall off the bone texture we all crave.

Even though you’re starting with a large, intimidating cut of meat, this way of cooking is easy and very hands-off. Set it and forget is really the way to go. Just follow a few simple steps and you can successfully prepare some of these classic cuts of beef and pork.

Pick the Meat: The cuts of meat that require low and slow cooking come from the leg and shoulder area of the cow or pig. These are the areas that have the most movement on the animal so all the muscles and fibers need to break down during cooking. Look for any type of cut labeled roast, short rib or brisket. For pork, the cuts are called a shoulder, butt or roast. You can also find stew beef already cut into cubes.

Equipment: Each of these cuts are perfect for oven cooking, slow cooker or instant pot. In the oven, braising is the best technique. When braising, first you sear all sides of the meat in a pan large enough for the cut or use a large skillet and then transfer to a baking dish. After searing, add liquid – enough to cover halfway up the side of the meat – then cover and place in the oven to finish cooking. For slow cooker you can just add the meat and liquid to the vessel, set on low and walk away. Or you can also sear first in a skillet and then move it to the slow cooker. For instant pot, most have a sear function so you can do both – sear and cook – just follow the manufacturer’s directions for timing. I’m a big fan of searing any cut of meat first so it has that nice crust and color on the outside.

What to Add: You can add vegetables to cook with the meat, but also consider the timing. If it’s a large cut of meat cooking for several hours, then add large chunks of carrot, onion or halved/whole potatoes. Or add the vegetables halfway through. Also consider cooking them in a different baking dish. This might be a good idea considering what type of sauce or flavoring you’ve added for seasoning. Broccoli spears, turnips, radishes, bell pepper, fennel and sweet potatoes are also a good addition.

 

Seasoning & Sauces: Rub the meat with salt, pepper and other spices before searing or cooking. If braising, add broth, wine or both as your liquid. If you are using barbecue sauce or any sauce that is sticky, sweet or strong flavor – wait until meat is almost finished to add the liquid.

Time & Temperature: For the oven, temperature should be between 250 and 325 degrees. Any hotter and the meat will cook faster than the amount of time it takes for the fibers in the meat to tenderize. Timing will vary depending on the size of the cut. A large, whole roast can be 4 to 5 hours in the oven or longer. In the slow cooker, possibly 8 hours. Pressure cooker or instant pot will be the fastest. If you’re not presenting the cut as a whole roast then cutting the meat into 3 or 4 sections can speed up cooking time.

How to Serve: Serve a whole roast surrounded by other vegetables, whole leaf herbs and garnish. Also, meat can be shredded for sandwiches or cut into smaller pieces to serve over rice, mashed potatoes, pasta or polenta. Another technique that is popular for carnitas or barbecue is to shred or cube the meat and then spread onto a baking sheet in an even layer. Place under a broiler or cook at a high temperature until the meat is crispy and a little burnt. Add sauce, toss the meat and broil again until caramelized.

Short Rib Sandwiches

  • 3 lbs beef short ribs
  • 1/4 cup mustard
  • 2 tsp steak seasoning
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • 4 FRESH bakery hamburger buns

Add the mustard, steak seasoning and salt to a bowl. Rub the mixture all over the ribs and place in a slow cooker. Add the water and set to low temperature. Cook for 3 hours and turn the ribs. Continue to cook for 2 additional hours or until meet begins to fall off the bone.

Remove the ribs from the slow cooker and cut the meat into 1-inch cubes. Discard any large pieces of fat and the bones. Spread the meat in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and place in a 450 degree oven for 20 minutes. Stir the meat halfway through. Drain excess fat from the baking sheet. Add 1/2 cup of sauce. Toss to coat. Cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Remove and let cool. Place meat on buns and serve with additional sauce.

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