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Old 02-02-2007, 04:12 PM   #1
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Question Help - Slow cooker problems

Hi - I am new to this site and would appreciate any help you can give.
I recently purchased and returned a Rival Crock Pot as it seemed to burn everything on low. I have now bought a Hamilton Beach 6 qt with the meat probe (Set and Forget Model).
Not sure what I am doing wrong. I put my potatoes and carrots on the bottom, added a cup of beef broth (it didn't cover the veg fully) and put my roast on top. I put the meat probe in and it cooked until my roast was 145 degrees and then turned to warm. It was so tough you could hardly chew it. Next time I did the exact same but instead put crock on warm and cooked from 10am to 5:00pm - it was overdone and the meat actually shredded instead of cooking.
Any suggestions what I am doing wrong?? I thought that the longer I left the roast in the more tender it would be - is this not right?
I have been using Blade roast and a cross cut roast. I am a little confused as some posts say cover meat with water and others say little water is required.
Thank-you very much for your help.


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Old 02-02-2007, 06:18 PM   #2
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Welcome to DC, muskoka101! You will like it here and get answers to your questions. Quickly and many times, so be patient.

As for your crock-pot problem, check out this DC thread:New Rival Crock Pot Always Boils!.

It will give you some insight into newer crock-pots/slow cookers. Apparently there are some problems with those made in recent times. I can't address that issue because my crock-pots are at least 30-years-old and still work like new.

I've never had a toughness/tenderness problem regardless of the amount of liquid I had in the pot. Perhaps someone else can shed some light on the problem for you.

Best wishes and await many helpful answers.


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Old 02-03-2007, 07:10 AM   #3
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I love my slow cooker; would be lost without it.
I use it as least once or twice a week; here are some recipes I have;give it another try.
Good luck!


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Old 02-03-2007, 08:30 AM   #4
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The longer you left the roast (the second time) it WAS more tender--fall apart tender.
The first time you cooked it to a well done piece of "steak"--which a stew beef isn't and even if it were sirloin, it would have been tough.
A crockpot is a braising tool. For braising, I think liquid half way up the side of the meat is good. Otherwise the "sauce/gravy" is pretty watery probably.
I don't have a probe but for a crockpot/braise, the temp should be on up--170* for beef. At that point, the collagenous fibers of the tougher pot roast cuts of meat will be breaking down and the meat will be tender but probably still sliceable.
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Old 02-03-2007, 09:18 AM   #5
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First, I'll give you a little primer on meat, and this is true whether it be beef, pork, wild game, or poultry. Meat fibers are constructed of mostly protien and liquid. As heat is applied, the meat warms and cooks as we all know. If the protien is heated beyond about 170 degrees Farenheight or so, the strands of meat fibers will start to curl and tangle together, much like pinching a straight shaft of hair and pulling it sharply makes it curl. When this happens, the fibers tangle together and tighten, squeesing some of the fluid from the meat muscle cells. The result is tough, dry meat.

Slow cookers rely on a method of cooking called braising, where the food is cooked in relativiley low temperature liquid for long periods of time. The liquid should never boil while braising foods.

Meats suitable for braising are cuts that have substantial connecting tissue (collagen) and fat. When these cuts are brought to temperatures of around 180 to 190, the connecting tissues and fats that hold the muscle strands together melt, allowing the strands to seperate easily. That is known as "falling apart tender". The individual meat strands will still be tough, but since they are already seprated into small pieces, you don't have to exert as much energy when chewing to grind everything into a the consistancy required before swallowing. The meat appears to be more tender.

Leaner cuts, with more solid muscle tissue, such as a bottom round, or even a tri-tip, actually become more tough and dried out when cooked to a well-done state and are therefore poor choices for a slow cooker. The result of cooking lean meats in a slow cooker is that you will have tough, dry meat, even if completely submersed in liquid.

Tougher cuts of lean meat, such as try-tip, london broil, sirloin, skirt and flank steaks, eye of round, etc. should be cooked no more than medium rare, and then thinly bias-sliced against the grain. Again, this maintains the moisture content and by slicing thinly against (sideways to) the grain, makes the meat fibers more able to be seperated by chewing into a consistancy able to be easily swallowed.

My little epxlanation is by know means an exhaustive treatise on the subject, but should help you understand a little more about what types of meat to use in your slow cooker, and the purpose of the appliance. Oh, and by the way, a pressure cooker is used for the same reasons as is a slow cooker. But the pressure cooker does everything much faster. The down side is that you have to be there to watch it as it is easy to burn foods if left in the pressure cooker too long. Hope this helps.

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Old 02-04-2007, 02:38 PM   #6
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Thank-you so much for all your replies. I will give it another try.
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Old 02-04-2007, 03:09 PM   #7
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muskoka101, I used my Hamilton Beach Crock Pot today. Yummmmmmy. Pork Stew.
Heated my cast iron skillet and added 2 tablespoons of EVVO
Rolled my squares of pork in flour and coated
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Old 02-04-2007, 03:18 PM   #8
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muskoka101 was starting to post. Hit one wrong key. I will try again.
Today I made Pork Stew in my Hamilton Beach Crock Pot:

Heated my cast iron skillet
added 2 tablespoons EVOO
Dredged my pork meat in flour
added to my skillet on Med high and browned
added on sliced onion and later 3 cloves chopped garlic
added sliced carrots and sliced celery

Placed 4 potatoes cut into chucks into the bottom of my crock pot
added 1/2 cup water

added the sauted/browned veggies from my Iron skillet.
deglazed the skillet with 1 cup white wine

added to the crock pot. dial set on high cooked for 3 hours.

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