Why does my meat always turn out dry or tough? Here is a check list for cooking meats:
- Did you lift the lid during cooking?
Lifting the lid can drop the temperature considerably. Avoid the urge!
- Did you have enough liquid in the pot?
This seems simple, but it’s as easy mistake. Be sure you have enough liquid for the specified cooking time.
- Did your recipe contain enough acid (such as, the acid in tomato sauce) to tenderize the meat?
Acid based foods help to tenderize meats. Without them, meat can get dry or tough.
- Did you cook the meat too long?
It’s easy to do in a slow cooker. We expect to be able to walk away for hours, but some dishes do not need to cook for an entire day.
- Did you cut your meat into pieces that were too small to withstand a long cooking time?
Meats that are cut into tiny pieces will dry out during cooking much faster than larger pieces.
- Was your cut of meat too tender?
Less tender cuts of meat are best for this type of cooking.
- Does the lid on your slow cooker fit properly?
If your lid does not fit properly, moisture is escaping. This watery steam is essential for keeping foods moist.
- Are you using the right size slow cooker?
Putting small amounts of food in a large slow cooker can dry out the food because it cooks much faster.
Tips for tender meats:
- Brown your meat.
Browning helps the meat retain it’s moisture during cooking in a slow cooker.
- Leaner cuts of meat will become a bit dryer in a slow cooker than fatty cuts.
Sometimes, you have to work to find that balance of “not-too-dry” and “still healthy”.
- Marinate your meat overnight before cooking.
Choose acidic marinades such as orange juice, lemon juice, vinegar or tomato juice.