The Slow Cook

By Martin Kirrane

We believe there are few things as good as a piece of meat slow-cooked to perfection, breaking down the fibres and producing a tender and succulent taste. Cuts suitable for this have been ever more popular recently and we are often asked for cooking advice. There are a range of different methods and opinions but we would recommend a method that Heston has championed, based on knowing the temperature that meat cooks at or the temperature required to produce your desired outcome.

Here comes the science part; Meat does not begin to cook until it reaches about 40°C, when talking in terms of poultry and pork you want the core temperature to be 70°C to ensure that harmful bacteria have been eliminated. With beef and lamb however, altering the core temperature will affect the final result, ranging from 35°C for bleu to 75°C for well done.

You simply set your oven to the temperature you want your joint to reach and let the meat reach that temperature. The good thing is that once the temperature is reached, the meat won't cook any further, so you cant overcook it! The lower temperature means that the meat won't be contracted or pressured as much as conventional cooking, meaning the juices are retained inside.

Its not all plain sailing however, many ovens aren't accurate at the low temperatures, some starting at 75°C. We therefore feel a thermometer probe is essential to ensure accuracy. For example, I have checked my oven at 75°C with a probe and it actually reads 68°C, but as long as you know what the temperature is (or that it isn't higher than that) then you should be okay. Also, it is best to sear the meat if you can to produce a crust to lock in those juices and add a little flavour from whatever you have in the pan too.

Temperature guidelines:

Beef, Veal & Lamb

Bleu : 26-38°C
Rare : 49-51°C
Medium-Rare : 55-57°C
Medium : 60-63°C
Medium-Well : 65-69°C
Well Done : 71-75°C

Chicken, Duck & Turkey : 71-74°C

Pork : 66-70°C

I've included a great example below. This 1kg piece of rolled sirloin was roasted for about 20 hours at 65°C. You can see how it's still a little pink, and trust me, it tasted amazing!