Originally Posted by auntdot
Even the tenderest cuts of meat toughen at first when cooked. But braise or stew the stuff for an hour or more and the meat turns tender.
Thanks Auntdot, that's just confirmed for me what I was beginning to guess. I think one of the problems is that so many cooks talk about meat 'going' tough so I have been a bit paranoid about 'keeping' it tender!
My next stew will definitely be cooked for much longer. Is it possible to overcook it though? Do I need to have a specific amount of time in mind, depending on the meat and the cut, or will it always be tender if cooked for say 3 hours or more? Does it go tough again at some point?!
I'll definitely look at some venison recipes (thanks for the tip expatgirl and lynan), it makes sense that they'd be very similar meats - but I guess I'm really trying to understand the science behind it. I'm not much of a 'recipe' cook, I tend to get an idea of what I'd like to use and make it up as I go along. It usually turns out pretty tasty, there's just a bit of room for improvement with meat texture.
Also, would a high cooking temperature actually toughen the meat, or just cause the stew to dry out prematurely? In the worst case scenario, could I just keep adding liquid and cook it over a high heat for ages, or would something in this cause the meat to remain/turn tough?
Thanks everyone for your input and your warm welcome, it's much appreciated