Low & Slow Cooking Guide
Beef Shin and Brisket are both great cuts for slow-cooking. The shin is usually bought in medallions with the bone in or out and is ideal for stews, casseroles and braised dishes. Brisket is taken from the belly and produces a lovely tender, melt in the mouth meat when slow or pot roasted. Then there is the Chuck and Blade taken from the fore ribs. Usually sliced and diced for stewing.
Lamb Shank and Lamb Neck are both slow cook cuts that fall from the bone after a long slow cook. The Lamb Shank cut is from the lower end of the leg. It’s flavoursome and generously offers plenty of tender meat. The Lamb Neck is an inexpensive cut that needs long slow cooking. It can be bought on or off the bone and is ideal for stewing or braising. Lamb Breast is also a slow cook cut that is full of flavour. It can be quite fatty, but this melts off during cooking and can be poured away before serving.
The king of pork cuts for slow cooking includes my favourite; Blythburgh Pork Shoulder, on the bone. Ask our butcher to score the skin deeply. As with all meat cooking leave the joint out of the fridge for an hour or so until its at room temperature, rub olive oil and coarse sea salt deep into the skin and the place in a very hot oven at 220 for 30 minutes. Watch as the skin becomes crackling then cover in foil, reduce the oven temperature to below 150 and take the rest of the day off! Come back with friends when ready, enjoy the crackling with a cold beer whilst the pork rests under foil then just shred the meat onto a fresh ciabatta bap with Dijon mustard and a slice of stuffing.
Never resist the market! The escalation of demand for smokehouse-style cuisine has dominated the restaurant sector over the last couple of years and this dovetails perfectly with one of our mantras which is that the most flavoursome meat usually comes from unfashionable cuts cooked low and slow. I blogged about this some time ago and to remind those of you who remain unconvinced, here are the benefits...
Flavours - these intensify during a longer cooking process. Whilst prime cuts aren’t great for this, less expensive cuts, especially those on the bone, or with fattier qualities, such as shoulder and leg demand it.
Texture - that very special texture where the meat “falls off the bone” can only be achieved by slow cooking of these types of cuts. There is no better eating experience (in my humble opinion) than pulling apart a slow cooked morsel of pork, beef or lamb and enjoying the soft yet textured mouthful smothered in its own intense gravy.
Economy - whilst demand remains as high as it is for what are deemed to be prime cuts, all good butchers will have plenty of the less sought after pieces that they need to shift. These will be priced in order to sell quickly so the butcher can make use of the whole carcass, nose to tail.
Stress free cooking – whereas the more expensive joints and steaks require a degree of precision the slower cooking process is far more relaxed. Timings are more flexible and the cooking can be done and checked when it suits the cook. Walk the dog, go to the pub, watch a film! You’re not tied to the pan or the oven.
Here's an outline guide to help you plan your Slow Cook. Please follow your recipes for exact cooking times.
Beef Brisket (Rolled) - Roast 230°C/210°C fan/Gas 8 for 25 minutes to nice colour – add stock and flavourings. Cover and turn the oven down to 160°C/140°C fan/gas 3 cook for 4 hours further, rest in the juices before serving.
Beef Flat Ribs in one of our Marinades - Preheat the oven to 100ºC. Place the marinaded ribs in a snug-fitting roasting tray, drizzle with a little olive oil all over. Cover tightly with a double layer of tin foil then cook for 7 to 8 hours until cooked through and tender. Transfer the ribs to a chopping board and, carve up (unless cooked as individual ribs)
Ox Cheek - dust with flour, brown well in the pan, add stock and flavouring – vegetables, herbs etc. Cover and cook on 140°C/120°C fan/gas 1 for 2 hours, until tender.
Beef Shin (on bone) - as Ox cheek, but set oven at 160°C/140°C fan/Gas 3 and cook for 3-3½ hours, until tender.
Veal Shin (on bone) - as Ox cheek, but set oven to 150°C/130°C fan/ Gas 2 cook for 1½ - 2 hours, until tender.
Beef Chuck (1inch dice) and Oxtail (on bone) - as Ox cheek, but set oven to 150°C/130°C fan/Gas 2 and cook for 1½ hours.
Lamb Shank - dust with flour, brown well in the pan, add stock and flavouring – vegetables, herbs etc. Cover and cook on 150°C/130°C fan/gas 2 for 2 hours.
Lamb Neck End (on bone) - as Lamb Shank, but set oven to 170°C/150°C fan/Gas 3½ cook covered for 1¼ hours until tender.
Lamb Shoulder Roast (on bone) - Roast 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6 for 20 minutes, cover with foil, turn oven down to 160°C/140°C fan/Gas 3 cook for 4 hours until it pulls easily from the bone.
Lamb Breast (Rolled) - Roast 200°C/180°C fan/Gas 6 for 30 minutes, add stock and flavouring – vegetables, herbs etc. Turn the oven down to 150°C/130°C fan/Gas 2, cover and cook for a further 1½ hours.
Pork Shoulder Roast (for pulled pork) - cook on 140°C/120°C fan/Gas 1 for 5-6 hours covered with foil, you can increase the oven temperature and remove the foil for the last 30-45 minutes if you want to colour up the meat – the meat should pull/fall apart.
Pork Belly (flat) - Roast 230°C/210°C fan/Gas 8 for 25 minutes to nice colour, turn the oven down to 140°C/120°C fan/Gas 1 and cook for a further 2 - 2½ hours, increase temp for last 15 minutes to 230°C/210°C/gas 8 to crisp skin.
Rolled Pork Belly (rolled) - as for flat Pork Belly but turn oven down to 150°C/130°C fan/Gas 2 and cook for 3-3½ hours.