The best beef cuts for slow cooking
While most beef lovers are familiar with the experience of cooking a steak on the BBQ, there are a range of beef cuts available which create incredible meals if cooked correctly. For many of these, the best results can be achieved by cooking low and slow to result in a full flavoured, juicy and tender meat dish. While many beef cuts are very versatile, common preparation methods often mean that we don’t utilise all of these to their full potential. Subtle adjustments to cooking techniques can make all the difference to the end result. In this article we present a concise summary of the different beef cuts for slow cooking that you may find in your Provenir pack as well as the most appropriate ways to prepare them.
If you choose the most suitable cuts of meat, slow cooking beef is always worth the wait. While we might often think of slow cooking as a way to prepare meat that tends to become tough, a better approach is to choose the meat cuts that will deliver the best results. There are a range of cuts that are ideal for creating juicy, fall-apart meat that melts in the mouth. Each of the below cuts of beef are ideal for low and slow cooking and there are many different ways to prepare them. From braising to casseroles, pot roasts, ragu, stews and curry – the list goes on.
How to slow cook beef
Regardless of your choice of cut, method or recipe there are a few key steps to be taken when slow cooking beef, in particular relating to the earlier stages of preparation.
Bring your meat to room temperature before beginning to cook – not for long enough to become unsafe (no more than 4 hours is the general rule), but just enough time to take the fridge chill out of the meat. This rule applies to all types of beef and slow cooking is no exception. We recommend bringing the beef out of the fridge for around 30 minutes before you begin preparation to allow the meat to cook more evenly.
Brown the outside of the meat. Most recipes will call for quickly browning the outside of the meat before placing in the slow cooker. This not only seals the moisture inside the meat but intensifies the flavour of the beef. While it is possible to get away with a perfectly enjoyable result without browning beef first, you’ll notice the difference in both flavour and texture if you take this additional step.
Don’t allow the meat to become dry. Most slow cooker recipes will involve a reasonable amount of liquid – either marinade or stock – to keep the meat moist throughout the cooking process. If this is the case with the recipe that you are using, it’s always a good idea to ensure that the liquid component covers the meat.
Remove excess fat from the meat. Choosing fattier cuts can be advantageous in slow cooking and a higher fat content ensures a moist and juicy end result. However, if there is a particularly large amount of fat on the meat this will lead to a fatty tasting dish. Never remove all of the fat from your beef cuts for slow cooking, but you may occasionally need to trim away a little.
Above: Provenir Beef Short Ribs
Best Beef Cuts to Slow Cook
Osso Bucco is the name of both the cut of beef and the traditional Italian dish that is made using this meat. Coming from a cross cut of the beef shank, Osso Bucco includes a marrow filled bone as well as sections of tendon that surround the bone and a little fat in between.
This cut will become fall-apart tender after slow cooking and is often prepared with an amount of stock or liquid to cover the meat. Traditional recipes use wine, stock, herbs and garlic but there are many variations. This type of slow cooked dish is the perfect set and forget – place the ingredients in the slow cooker and come back later in the day to a lush, rich gravy and perfectly tender meat. The perfect comfort food with a side of mashed potato!
How to cook Beef Short ribs
Short ribs can be slow cooked as a pot roast much in the same way as other slow cooker cuts or even sous vide if you feel like trying something different. Whichever way you choose, the mantra for preparing short ribs is that you cannot over cook them.
Depending on the recipe that you use, you might feel as though you’ve overcooked the meat (especially when they shrink a little and brown on the outside) but rest assured, the longer the better for this cut. Similarly, if you take your ribs out of the cooker to find them still a little tough, pop them back in for a few more hours. Low temperature roasting is also a good method for beef short ribs, although ensure a liberal application of olive oil and an occasional check in to avoid dryness in the meat.
If you’re planning to cook short ribs quickly remember that this cut is naturally a little tougher, so you can expect the meat to be chewy. Beef short ribs can be grilled, but the result will be very different if they are slow cooked. If cooked long enough, your patience will reward you with juicy, tender meat falling away from the bone. Beef short ribs are ideal prepared in a flavourful gravy or a spicy BBQ marinade.
See our Short Rib Roast Recipe.
Above: Provenir Beef Brisket
Along with tri-tip, brisket creates a smoked meat that is hard to beat and smoke flavours complement this cut extremely well – see Mark LaBrooy’s video on smoking brisket.
Brisket is a cut of beef from the lower chest and since the brisket muscles support a large proportion of the animal’s body weight, this cut of beef is normally reasonably tough. Consequently it requires low, slow cooking to tenderise the meat.
Unlike other cuts of beef that fall apart and shred, brisket will retain its structure even after hours of slow cooking, being extremely tender yet still able to be sliced. Unlike some other cuts, leaving as much fat as possible on the brisket will improve the end result.
If you’re slow cooking rather than smoking, brisket is delicious with a sweet, sticky glaze. This cut also benefits from extended time marinating to create the most flavourful end result. If using spices or dry marinades, a good rub will help to flavour the meat.
Chuck Steak Recipes
Chuck steak is a cut from the upper shoulder or forequarter area of beast which contains a significant amount of connective tissue, making this meat reasonably tough (and perfect for low and slow cooking). However, the nature of this meat tending to include an amount of fat and gristle make it incredibly flavourful – think the traditional stew and casserole recipes that you might have enjoyed as a child.
Braised, broiled or stewed, chuck steak works best browned and then slow cooked with vegetables in classic marinades of stock, garlic and herbs. Much in the same way as ribs, a good strategy is to place all of the ingredients in the slow cooker and come back later in the day – viola!
Other great slow cooker beef cuts include;
Gravy beef is definitely for more than just gravy and is an ideal cut for traditional stews.
A delicious, tender cut when slow cooked and ideal for sweet and sour Asian style recipes to balance the richness of the meat.
Oxtail stew is famous in many countries around the world and is often boiled in stock as part of the cooking process.
Bolar blade roast is cut from the shoulder of the carcase. Containing subtle layers of fat, this cut is perfect for a full-flavoured pot roast. Read more on this cut at our previous article – The Wonderful World of Artisan Cuts and How to Cook them.
This cut is a more forgiving than many others and consequently is very versatile. This means that oyster blade steak can be cooked a little faster than other cuts and is a good choice for stir frying as well as slow cooking.
This cut can be marinated, tenderised and pan fried or grilled but is also great for slow cooking.
As well as slow cooking, tri-tip is ideal for smoking and this cut can be approached in a similar way to brisket.
The Provenir Six Star Promise
Provenir allows consumers to buy beef direct from the farmer and delivers a six star promise;
Provenir farmers utilise low stress handling techniques and raise their livestock on open pastures within a familiar herd structure; allowing the animals to express their natural character.
Instead of the livestock being transported, the abattoir comes to the farm. Eliminates unnecessary stress on animals associated with live transport. Less stress means less adrenalin produced, and thus more retained glycogen stores in the meat, leading to exceptional eating quality, taste and tenderness.
Full traceability & true provenance
Provenir oversees the whole operation from purchasing livestock on farm direct from our partnering farmers, to the on-farm processing, into our butchery and on to you. By processing on-farm and utilising the latest in digital traceability technology we are able provide full transparency and guaranteed provenance.
Grass-fed & free range
Provenir partners with farmers who raise their livestock free range and grass-fed. For cattle and lamb this means they are fed on natural grasses, pasture, hay or silage.
Exceptional eating quality
Our on-farm process and artisan butchery techniques ensures that the quality of the meat is retained and maximised throughout the whole process.
No and hormones, herd antibiotics or intensive feedlots
Provenir farmers raise their livestock naturally: they do not feedlot, nor do they add hormones or antibiotics to the feed as growth promotants.
How to Purchase Provenir
If you do care about animal welfare, and of course great tasting, high quality meat, visit the Provenironline butcher shop now and find out for yourself why people are trusting Provenir. Provenir enables a connection between you and the farmer, via a unique QR code on each meat pack, that tells you the entire paddock to plate story behind each cut of meat online.
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