Cooking at low temperature over a long time will change a tough cut of meat into a tender soft meat.
Slow cooking was trending since the beginning of time. Ancient people prepared their food using plants, herbs, etc. Recent studies reveals that cooking of food increases the bio availability of some nutrients. So, this will become a contradiction to the mindsets of “eating fresh and raw is the best”.
In this method of cooking, the heat is kept low. Muscle fibres cooks from 60°C. As the temperature rises more, moisture is lost. Food is generally cooked for a long period of time, immersed in liquid. Slow cooking is mostly used in tough cuts of meat, root vegetables and pulses.
Long and low temperature cooking converts the chewy collagen in tough meat to velvety gelatine. This reaction takes place between 65°C and 70°C. In the cooking liquid, gelatine breaks down and creates a rich and flavourful gravy. After the meat gets completely cooled in its liquid, you can see that it has become extra soft.
White, chewy connective tissue is made of collagen and elastira proteins. Collagen begins to denature at 52°C (126°F), then
contracts and shrinks at 58°C (136°F), squeezing moisture out. At around 68°C (154°F), the collagen breaks apart and reforms into soft gelatine, giving succulence to the dehydrating meat. However, elastin does not break down at normal cooking temperatures, so remains as inedible gristle.
Slow cookers are heated from the bottom, so can burn if the pot is dry. Add enough liquid just to cover the food, but not too much as the sauce will be too thin and lack flavour. Also, put the lid on to stop the heat and steam escaping. Thus the inside temperature becomes steady and prevents the liquid evaporating away. Heat spreads across the bottom and sides of the inner pot. Heat then passes into the cooking liquid and directly into food resting on the base. Do not open the lid in between, as it may cause steam and heat to escape.
Cooking meat in a liquid at lower heat, reduces the number of cell-damaging compounds known as AGEs ( Advanced glycation end products) that are produced in the meats. That is why slow cooking has become the safest means of cooking.
So, next time when you go for cooking a meat, turn up the flame and slow cook your dish.