The Return of Slow Cooking
The last thing anyone wants to do during the final hot days of summer is turn on the oven and slow cook something for hours. But thankfully, here in Colorado the weather changes in October to cooler, crisper days, with even cooler evenings, inviting us back to our kitchens once again.
Slow cooking—roasting or braising—is the ideal way to cook tougher cuts of meat, like shoulder roasts or short ribs. These cuts have heavy connective tissue that simply needs time to break down. A slow roast in a low-temp oven for several hours turns that otherwise too-tough-to-cut piece of meat into a melt-in-your-mouth masterpiece.
If you invest in any single item for slow cooking, buy a heavyweight Dutch oven. Don’t be tempted to get the biggest one in an effort to fit anything and everything into it. A roast that is braising needs to be cooking in liquid, and an overly large pot will require far too much stock or wine to cover the meat. Instead, opt for a four- to six-quart covered Dutch oven that will comfortably fit a roast large enough to feed your family. Prices vary dramatically, but look for one with an enamel-coated interior, which makes clean-up a snap.
Cooking times in recipes for roasting or braising may be left wide open, suggesting that something could take as little as three hours or as long as six hours to cook. That’s because you can’t tell exactly how a cut of meat is going to respond until you start cooking it. When you check it at four hours, if it’s still tough, let it cook awhile longer. As soon as you can pull the meat from the bone with a fork, you know it’s ready—and not any sooner. And if you’re like me, you won’t be able to resist grabbing a few bites before you put it on the table for your family!
Try your hand at one of these delicious, slow-cooked recipes:
About the author: Michele Morris leads cooking dinner parties and teaches private and group cooking classes for both kids and adults. For more great recipes, cooking tips, and resources, visit her website cookingwithmichele.com.