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Old 03-06-2006, 07:19 PM   #1
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Slow Simmering. Tell me about it.

Hey guys normally i have been simmering my chili's and meat sauces for about 2 hours , uncovered, to reach desired thickness/flavor. I'm looking to expand my knowledge on this type of stuff and hope you will answer a couple of questions.

1.) I am curious as to what are the merits of leaving a pot covered/semi covered, and simming it for 3-4 hours. Does this concentrate flavor/ tenderize meat more than say 1-2 hours?

2.) Are there any particular seasonings, herbs, meats, etc, that should NOT be slow simmered because they will become bitter/overcooked/ ruined?

3.) Is there any cutoff as to how long you should simmer a meat sauce / chili?

4. )What are the advantages of slow simmering my chili/meat sauce in a stainless steel pot rather than Teflon? I got a stainless steeel 8qt sauce pot today for 60 dollars. I got it because most people on here seem to reccomend stainless.

5.) Since this pot is stainless and not a nonstick pan, should i stir and scrape the bottom of my slow simmering sauces more often than i used to? If so, how long? I used to do it every 10 minutes before.

Also any other miscellaneous info you have on slow simmering would be appreciated.

As always, thanks in advance,



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Old 03-06-2006, 08:26 PM   #2
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leaving the lid off or askew will cause the moisture to evaporate, thus concentrating the flavor.

length of time is determined by type and size of meat. small items cook faster higher, but large items will burn so lower slower works there. A steak, hot and fast, a large roast, lower longer.

TOugher cuts of meat, brisket, etc need slow moist cooking to tenderize the meat and turn all that collagen into gelatinous broth. Meat on a bone may take longer than meat by itself. etc.

THe real low slow barbequers are cooking at a very low temp in the 200s and letting it go all day. that's different from oven roasting or braising at 325 or 350.

If you are using ground meat in your chili, you may get as good results simmering for 1 1/2 hr, then turning the pot off and letting sit, slow cooling, (it's still cooking.) refrigerate, and reheat the next day...now it's ready!

when making beans etc in the oven , I only take the cover off the last 1/2 hour to thicken/evaporate and concentrate flavors.

If your new SS pot is fully clad rather than a disk bottom, it should cook well with stiring every 20 min to 1/2 hour on low, once hot. If it is a disk bottom, then the sides are thin SS and the pot should be stired more often to distribute the heat through the food.

I don't know that there is much difference in a stew or soup in using SS over a teflon coated pot. The real differnences occur in browning and oven use.
Every pot adn pan cooks a little differently, and you'll need to get used to your new pot. have a good time and a great meal!

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Old 03-06-2006, 08:49 PM   #3
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Thanks for all the info rob.
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Old 03-07-2006, 03:00 AM   #4
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Wow, Rob, I'm impressed! I looked at this line thinking to answer questions, instead I learned.
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Old 03-08-2006, 11:39 AM   #5
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Robo pretty much hit it all ....

Don't let your food slow cool too long because once it hits 140 degrees bacteria begins to form and multioply faster and faster as it cools. That's when you need to get it into the fridge. Remember this poor guy's chicken pot pie filling.

Cooking chili/stew/spaghetti sauce in the oven is a good technique, too. The oven provides more even heat. It also is a helpful technique if you are cooking a number of different things and need stove space.

And yes, there is generally no need to cook chili or stew for more than 2 hours or so. The meat will disintegrate, which is ok for chili but not for stew.
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Old 03-15-2006, 07:04 AM   #6
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When I am going to slow cook something, particularly thinking of spaghetti sauce, I will prepare all the ingredients and add to a large crock pot, then just let it simmer away for the day (first on hi to fully heat - then on low). I always make a large batch of homemade spaghetti sauce so I can have frozen containers of extra. I used to slow cook the sauce on the stove, but just got tired of it always burning on the bottom of the pot (even with a non-stick pot), no matter how often it was stirred. With the crock pot, no stirring is necessary, and there is no burning. If the sauce appears to be "thinning" too much from the crock pot moisture during cooking, I will just take the lid off, turn the crock pot to hi, and the sauce will thicken up nicely. If you don't have a crock pot, go for it as so many things can be cooked in it, and I've never had anything come out poorly using this method of cooking. If anything, everything comes out better.
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Old 03-15-2006, 10:38 AM   #7
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since it is brought up here, let's look at the reality of bacteria build up.

You have a nice thick steak and you want to bring it to room temp before grilling. Is it safe to do so? #1 assuing the meat is covered and not in direct sunlight or heat source, yes for 1/2 hour or so. The surface may indeed begin to get a bit of airborne bacteria but the inside is sterile and you are going to cook the outside at high temps so the bacteria will be killed. #2 can I leave it out all day? NO.

You have a frozen hunk of meat criowrapped. Can I leave it out to defrost all day (or all night?) Assuming the air tight wrap is airtight, and the time to defrost will be about 6 hours or more, yes. Then cook or refridgerate immediately. DO NOT refreeze.

Ground meat is a different matter...it has much more exposed surface area, and has been exposed in the grinding. Keep chilled, allow to unchill a bit under cover, but not for long unless you are going well done.

Slow cooling in a pot? If the pot is good with a tight lid (all clad for example) and you have been simmering it with the lid on for 10 minutes or more before turning it off, and you haven't lifted the lid...inside that pot the sides and contents are "sterile" and you can slow cool it safely to even 100* before refridgerating.

The ingredients are a cream based soup or a fish soup? fridge it soon.

While these tips may not agree with the FDA for a food service operation, they do indeed coincide with good food science and safety.

Now, this does not mean you can leave potato salad out all day in the summer heat. PLease we're talking about meats about to be grilled, slow cooked stews and chilis, etc. We are not talking about fresh fish or poultry either. THey need to be kept chilled. It's safe to pull chicken out 10 minutes or so before browing grilling, but keep the fish cool please! (Not so much for safety but for taste!)
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Old 03-17-2006, 11:10 AM   #8
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Great advice everyone. Thanks for the help as I was just wondering the same thing myself the other day.
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Old 03-17-2006, 11:20 AM   #9
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to answer question #2: many fresh herbs should not be added to a slow simmering pot of whatever until near the end because their flavor will be lost if left to cook too long.
some of the stronger and more hardy herbs are ok to add early, like mint, bay leaves, oregano, or rosemary. but more delicately flavored herbs such as basil, thyme, dill, and parsley should be added towards the end.
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Old 03-17-2006, 12:49 PM   #10
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I have a gas stove and when on low the flame is a small circle and unless I stood there and stirred constantly I'd get a burned ring on the bottom of my spaghetti sauce. Now I use a heat disperser. It takes longer to get going, but I don't get a burned ring either.

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