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Foiled Brisket & Dry Roast (Long) - Part 1

Bob VBob V Posts: 195
edited 7:24AM in EggHead Forum
Couple of posts recently (Max and SmokedSignals) sent me back to the books. My resource on this is the wonderful On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee. In talking about the advantages/disadvantages of cooking meat different ways he says (p118-p122 of the hardback edition):[p](my edits) Roasting depends on infrared radiation from the oven walls and on convection, or the transfer of heat vis the currents of air, which has a much lower heat capacity than either water or oil or metal. It is a relatively slow method, well suited to large pieces of meat that take time to cook through to the center. You will want to sear the meat, either in an initially superhot oven or in a large frying pan, if you prize the brown crust and its intense flavor, and you don't mind that the meat is somewhat drier as a result...The choice of temperature is more complicated, and depends on the quality of the meat.
Recall that the connective tissue requires long cooking at high temperature to be converted to gelatin, while muscle proteins, once they have coagulated at about 160F, will only get drier and tougher with time...If you roast at a relatively high temperature, say from 350F up, then for a given doneness your meat will have cooked for a relatively short time...the muscle proteins will not have been overcooked, but the collagen will have gelatinized less as well. This is an appropriate strategy for cuts with little connective tissue, such as rib roasts. With low temperatures, say from 250F-300F, the meat will remain in the oven much longer...the collagen will gelatinize fairly completely, but the muscle tissue itself will become mealy rather than firmly tender...The low temperature method is appropriate for less tender cuts, such as chuck and rump.[p]Braising
A word about roasts that are not roasts. In days past...there have been roast recipes that call for adding stick to the pan, for covering the roast with foil, or both...In fact, such techniques, because they *speed* the cooking process - steam is a more efficient heating medium than air - actually increase the fluid loss, and tend to produce drier roasts. Moreover, because they depend on moisture, these methods are not properly called roasts, but braises.
...the braise is characterized by a relatively low temperature, the boiling point of water, and yet a more efficient transfer of energy than is possible in dry heating. In practice this means a large piece of meat will reach temperatures near this maximum relatively quickly, and can be kept there for prolonged periods wthout any danger of burning.


  • Bob VBob V Posts: 195
    Part 2[p](Braising)
    Such treatment is exactly what is called for in order to convert collagen to gelatin...a long slow braise is the best way to tenderize meat that is tough on account of its connective tissue content...Most recipes call for browning the meat before braising; this is advisable not to seal in the juices, but to provide flavor by triggering the browning reactions that require high, dry heat...[p]So Max's question of the brisket that was browned and then wrapped actually involves braising the meat - thus the more rapid cook times.[p]McGee is a great read...[p]Bob V

  • Bob V, I think I follow that pretty well and agree with it and would make just one observation...a post just down the list a bit talks about a chuck roast gone bad which had been braised. My thinking is that you need to be aware that the cooking time can be greatly speeded up , but with that in mind and the part in your post that you can actually dry out a roast using this method or you might wind up with a dry roast even in all that steam...I think?

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