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Cooking Techniques: Moist Heat, Simmering

Cooking Techniques: Moist Heat, Simmering

Simmering Temperature is 180° to 200° F

A simmer is described as small bubbles rising to the surface that almost twinkle when they pop. This is the temperature slow cookers cook at (or should cook at). An occasional large bubble should not be a problem unless the liquid is thick, then the burner needs to be turned down to prevent scorching.There is a variety of terms that describe simmering such as a low boil, braising, stewing and poaching. If the recipe does not give you a temperature, you need to check if the book/web site has a reference list for cooking temperatures. Stewing and braising do use the temperatures that qualify as a simmer. Poaching; however is a lower temperature.

Altitude doesn’t effect Simmering Temperature

190° is the same no matter your altitude and most cooks can get the temperature of the water to 200° F. High altitude cooks need to keep an eye on water levels as water evaporates quickly.

Foods That are Simmered

The best temperature to cook meats, stews, soups, casseroles, most beans and many vegetables are at a simmer.Some form of simmering is preferred when cooking meat. High temps can make the meat tough or cause the outside proteins to break down too fast causing the broth to cloud. Please see Moist Heat, Boiling for information about boiling.

Braising Cooks Food at Simmering Temperatures

Braising Methods
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There are so many techniques and methods used for braising it is not possible to catalogue all of them here.
  • The general method is to put the meat in liquid which can be water, fruit juice, stock, etc.
  • According to Ruhlman the amount of water you use depends on the cut of meat, and if you want to cook it evenly-submerge- or if you want to brown the meat-then don’t submerge
  • You can also choose to cover the pot or not. Just be aware that covering a pot will raise the temperature inside. Leaving it uncover will cause the liquid to evaporate faster. A compromise would be leaving the lid partially ajar.
  • Check doneness with a thermometer if cooking poultry, meat, fish or egg dish. Be aware that meat slow cooked may remain red even though it is well done.
Braising food in the oven at 200° to 235°F
You can braise food in the oven. Oven temperature should be between 200° and 235°F for a slow braise according to McGee. Temperature depends on toughness of meat and how fast you want to cook it. You can braise with oven temperatures as high as 300°.
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Meats good for braising
Good choices of meats for braising are: *eye round, *top round, *flank steak, *short ribs, *any chuck cut, *rump, *plate, *brisket, *fore shank, *tripe, *ox tails, *heart, *pork shank, *pork spare ribs, *Boston butt roast, *pork butt roast, *lamb shank, *lamb eye round, *lamb breast, *lamb heart, and other tougher cuts.
Braising Vegetables
Braising vegetables follows the same techniques with the vegetables being sauteed before adding liquid.

Stewing

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Christian describes stewing as the same as braising, but the meat is cut in chunks and has a much shorter cooking time. You follow the techniques outlined above except the meat and vegetables will be covered with the liquid.Stew meat is browned before adding to the pot. When the vegetables are added depends on their cooking times. Most will be added about 60 to 30 minutes before the dish is done.
Meats good for stewing

Meats good for stewing are *Boston butt, *picnic shoulder, *spare ribs, *shanks, *hocks, *beef chuck, *beef fore shank, *kidneys, *leg of lamb, *lamb breast, *lamb heart and *kidneys.

Sources:
Michael Ruhlman,Ruhlman’s Twenty: 20 Techniques, 100 Recipes, a Cook’s Manifesto,(San Francisco,Chronicle Books,2011).
Glynn Christian,How to Cook Without Recipes,(United Kingdom,Portico,2008).
Harold McGee,On Food and Cooking,(New York;Scribner).
Bruce Aidells,The Great Meat Cookbook: Everything You Need to Know to Buy and Cook Today’s Meat,(New York;Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,2012).

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See also:
Cooking Techniques: Moist Heat, Boiling
Cooking Techniques: Moist Heat, Poaching
Cooking With Water Quiz

 

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