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  #1  
Old 11-12-2009, 11:56 AM
Rhythmdvl Rhythmdvl is offline
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Pot roast in the slow cooker temperature? Time? (need answers slowly!)

Around ten this morning, I seasoned and browned a 5 pound round rump roast, put it on top of a passel of onions, carrots and a bit of potato, closed up the lid of a new slow cooker, and set it to cook on "low."

Three hours later, the internal temperature is up to 120 degrees (the lid has a hole to put a remote temperature probe in). At this rate, it will looks like it will hit medium rare within a couple hours or so putting the total cooking time at only five hours. Again, the cooker is new and it's set to low.

Everything I've seen on the net and have heard about slow cookers is that this should really take between eight and ten hours, not five.

Could there be a problem with the unit's cooking temperature?

Could there be different internal temperature rules for pot roasting?

What's going on?!

Thanks,

Rhythm
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  #2  
Old 11-12-2009, 12:07 PM
silenus silenus is offline
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The temperature will start to plateau shortly. Nix panicus. Besides, so it sits cooking for an extra hour or two. It's not like it's going to change anything. This is a slow cooker. They are built for such things.
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Old 11-12-2009, 12:08 PM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is online now
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Concur.
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  #4  
Old 11-12-2009, 12:10 PM
cher3 cher3 is offline
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Medium rare? I think the general assumption for pot roast is that you cook it until it is falling-apart tender. Rare and medium rare is for fancier cuts of meat like a rib roast.
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Old 11-12-2009, 12:17 PM
Rhythmdvl Rhythmdvl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silenus View Post
The temperature will start to plateau shortly. Nix panicus. Besides, so it sits cooking for an extra hour or two. It's not like it's going to change anything. This is a slow cooker. They are built for such things.
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Originally Posted by cher3 View Post
Medium rare? I think the general assumption for pot roast is that you cook it until it is falling-apart tender. Rare and medium rare is for fancier cuts of meat like a rib roast.
So it sounds like I'm off-base in thinking I want to take it out in the low to mid forties -- that "cooking for an extra hour or two" isn't a bad thing, especially as I want it well done.

A well done piece of beef? That just seems so ... wrong. But I've never cooked stews by temperature, and I guess those are well passed medium.

Or is meat-magic going to start taking place as the temperature plateaus? during that time, will heat energy go from raising the overall temperature to breaking down collagen (?) and other connective tissue?

It's at 132 now. Average degree change has been at 5 to 6 minute intervals. I should be plotting this in Excel.
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  #6  
Old 11-12-2009, 12:22 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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The whole pot of pot roasting is that it's a way to render tougher cuts of meat more tender by braising them slowly. Pot roasts are not supposed to be medium rare, they're supposed to be braised until they're falling apart.

If you want to make it MR, that's obviously your prerogative (though it might be a little tough), but that's the reason the other recipes take longer. Pot roast is different from roast beef.
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Old 11-12-2009, 12:23 PM
AuntiePam AuntiePam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhythmdvl View Post
A well done piece of beef? That just seems so ... wrong. But I've never cooked stews by temperature, and I guess those are well passed medium.
Not for a rump roast. I'm not an expert, but in my experience, if you want rare and tender, a rib roast is best. Your rump roast will have plenty of flavor and it'll be moist and tender, but it'll be well done. Sounds yummy.
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Old 11-12-2009, 12:25 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhythmdvl View Post
So it sounds like I'm off-base in thinking I want to take it out in the low to mid forties -- that "cooking for an extra hour or two" isn't a bad thing, especially as I want it well done.

A well done piece of beef? That just seems so ... wrong. But I've never cooked stews by temperature, and I guess those are well passed medium.

Or is meat-magic going to start taking place as the temperature plateaus? during that time, will heat energy go from raising the overall temperature to breaking down collagen (?) and other connective tissue?

It's at 132 now. Average degree change has been at 5 to 6 minute intervals. I should be plotting this in Excel.
Basically, yes. Meat magic will happen as the temerature plateaus. The meat will first tighten up as tough as a catcher's mitt, then the collagen will begin to break down in the braise and it will get tender.

Last edited by Diogenes the Cynic; 11-12-2009 at 12:26 PM..
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Old 11-12-2009, 12:30 PM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is online now
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Well, I know what I'm making for dinner tomorrow night.
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  #10  
Old 11-12-2009, 12:30 PM
Rhythmdvl Rhythmdvl is offline
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Ahhhh.... man, am I glad I asked.

Another bit that's adding into my feelings of counter-intuitiveness: I've always used a pressure cooker to make pot roasts in. Talk about extremes. PC-ing a roast is fantastic, but just a touch limiting in the size (at least for my cooker), and there's no way to get an idea of the temperature.

So hands off. Lid is staying on until, what, at least six? Can I use the temperature as any kind of gauge?
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  #11  
Old 11-12-2009, 12:31 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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I really go by fork tenderness more than temperature for pot roast.
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  #12  
Old 11-12-2009, 12:51 PM
Bosstone Bosstone is offline
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I find that, when making something in a slow cooker, you really can't go wrong with "Cook on low for 8 hours." There are some exceptions, but generally speaking that'll do the job.
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  #13  
Old 11-12-2009, 01:00 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
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I forgot to put my roast in the slow cooker Tuesday, so it was "cook on high for 4 hours," but it was still deeelicious! Slow cookers are awesome - you get your cheapest cut of roast you can find, cook the everloving shit out of it, and it is some of the best beef you'll ever have. I think you're making this more difficult than it has to be, Rhythm.
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  #14  
Old 11-12-2009, 01:00 PM
silenus silenus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhythmdvl View Post
So hands off. Lid is staying on until, what, at least six? Can I use the temperature as any kind of gauge?
After 6 hours, stick a fork in it. If you can rotate the fork easily, it's done. Hands off until then!
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  #15  
Old 11-12-2009, 01:28 PM
Rhythmdvl Rhythmdvl is offline
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Okeydokey ... hands OFF!

I'm not going anywhere near the lid until at least five, and then maybe just to look at it. The instruction set that came with the unit said not to let the heat out (and with another throwback to using a pressure cooker, I'm inclined to leave well enough alone. You should see me when I have a souffle going!)

This is going to be an interesting experiment -- hopefully deliciously interesting. I also found I had no red wine after starting, so I went with a few dashes of Pimms, Scotch, and a hint of vanilla. I've also got a sesame wheat bread in the oven, so I've got a good distraction going in case of roast failure (who can complain if they've got a handful of warm bread?).
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  #16  
Old 11-12-2009, 01:35 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cher3 View Post
Medium rare? I think the general assumption for pot roast is that you cook it until it is falling-apart tender. Rare and medium rare is for fancier cuts of meat like a rib roast.
Ding ding ding! You want to take this sucker up until it's fork tender. I've never probed a pot roast, but I suspect we're looking at temps of 190-200, not 140. I've explained it before, but here's what happens: collagen/connective tissue turnss into gelatin at temps between about 160-180 or so. This is what makes your pot roast moist, fork tender, and soft, despite being well into the well-well done degree of doneness. You do not want pot roast medium-rare. It will be tough as shoe leather.

Let it go until it's done. When is it done? When it tastes and feels like it's done. Sorry for being so vague, but every bit of meat is different. The tissues will tighten up for awhile and seem over cooked and stringy, but, trust me, just wait and the magic will happen. The tough, stringy meat will turn into the soft, delectable pot roast you're used to. There's no secret to this. Just time, and low heat, and even there you can be way off on your temps. I do my pot roast in a Dutch oven on the stove over a low flame. It's done in about 3-5 hours. In a slow cooker, depending on the setting, we're looking at much longer. 8+ hours.

It's a very forgiving piece of meat. You can have temps anywhere from 200-325 or so and still get the correct pot roast temperature, your only variable being time. Just check it from time and time and you'll know when it's done.
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Old 11-12-2009, 01:40 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
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One caveat - the roast does need to come out before it's shrunk to half its original size (ask me how I know this!). That's a little too long. If it sounds like we're trying to give you a hard time, we're really not - cooking a good pot roast is a little bit arcane - you know what "done" looks like when you see it.
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Old 11-12-2009, 09:03 PM
Apocalypso Apocalypso is offline
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I made a pork roast last week for the first time in a slow cooker. I cooked it 4 hours and it was ok, but I expected it to be more tender. Next time I will definitely cook it longer. It wasn't bad, I just expected the meat to be at the falling apart stage and it wasn't.
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Old 11-12-2009, 09:31 PM
silenus silenus is offline
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Yeah, you have to go the full time. It's called a slow cooker for a reason.

What's missing from the OP's recipe is some diced turnips and a few peppers.
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  #20  
Old 11-12-2009, 10:08 PM
drastic_quench drastic_quench is offline
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I like to insert whole cloves of garlic into my pot roasts. It's fantastic.
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  #21  
Old 11-12-2009, 10:16 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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As a guideline, you want it smelling up the house for several hours.
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  #22  
Old 11-13-2009, 07:54 AM
muldoonthief muldoonthief is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silenus View Post
Yeah, you have to go the full time. It's called a slow cooker for a reason.
Yes, remember the initial application the slow cooker was designed for - you set it up in the morning before you go to work, and when you come home 9-10 hours later, a perfectly cooked dinner is waiting for you.
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  #23  
Old 11-13-2009, 07:56 AM
interface2x interface2x is offline
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I made a pot roast on Sunday and have been having it for lunch at work every day. Absolutely fabulous! I went with the recipe of Lipton French Onion Soup, two cups water, baby carrots, and potatoes. Cooked on low for about 7 hours and it was fantastic when done.
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  #24  
Old 11-13-2009, 08:14 AM
BrandonR BrandonR is offline
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I made the mistake of pulling my pot roast after about 3-4 hours once when I took its temp and it said 180. I assumed it was either cooked or overcooked, but it was really tough and unpleasant.

Turns out you need to cook it way beyond that, to about 200F or so. It seems to defy beef logic but that's the point where all the collagen is melting and making it fork tender. Just leave it in there and it will definitely get fork tender.
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  #25  
Old 11-13-2009, 11:09 AM
redtail23 redtail23 is offline
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So how did it turn out?

IIRC, the magic number is 180. The longer you can keep it between 180 & 200, the better it gets. That's why you roast at low temps, to keep it in that zone longer.

I will say that IME, rump roast isn't really the one to pot roast. The best for pot roast is chuck - it's got the collagen needed to make braising work. So if it didn't turn out as good as you expected, try again with a chuck.

My rec for rump roast is the Joy of Cooking recipe. It's a true roast and works well with rump. (It's something like heat the oven to 500, put the seasoned roast in on a rack and turn down to 400, cook like 15? mins per pound to medium-rare. Slice up thin and serve. Along those lines, anyway.)

Last edited by redtail23; 11-13-2009 at 11:11 AM..
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  #26  
Old 11-13-2009, 11:27 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redtail23 View Post
I will say that IME, rump roast isn't really the one to pot roast. The best for pot roast is chuck - it's got the collagen needed to make braising work. So if it didn't turn out as good as you expected, try again with a chuck.
Oh, I didn't notice that. Yeah, rump roast isn't that great for pot roasting, and it's definitely more prone to being tough. Doesn't quite have the same amount of connective tissue. Chuck, as you say, is the perfect cut for this. Brisket is great, too.

Last edited by pulykamell; 11-13-2009 at 11:27 AM..
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  #27  
Old 11-13-2009, 11:40 AM
Scuba_Ben Scuba_Ben is offline
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My slow cooker has a straightforward cook setting: I select the time from 4/6/8/10 hours, the cooker sets the target temperature, and I let it sit. After the designated time, the cooker falls into "stay warm" mode.

This works very well with Saturday's dinner. Of course, it means that on Shabbat morning I wake up to the aroma of onion.
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