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I bought a chunk of vacuum packed beef from the discounter. The label said "roast meat", and didn't indicate which cut of beef it was. It was lean meat (4% fat), but that's normal in Europe.

I roasted the meat with some glaze, at 175°C, until the probe showed 63°C. Then I seared the crust on a 320°C iron pan. It turned out somewhat rare (I suspect the probe isn't good enough), but still looked like a perfectly good roast. But when I started eating, I discovered that the meat has enough connective tissue to be practically unchewable in this state.

Now I want to recook the meat and eat it. My first idea was to make goulash, in chat I got the advice to make a stew. The point is, while I know that theoretically it should work, I've never recooked meat, and I don't know if there are some details I'm overlooking. Also, is there a special kind of stew particularly well suited to my case?

Is there something special about making a stew or a goulash with precooked meat, different from using raw meat? Am I forgetting something here? How long should I cook the meat? (Assume that I start measuring after the center of the meat pieces - whatever size - has reached 68°C). I have roughly 20% to 25% connective tissue, the thickest fascia are maybe 3 mm. The meat is already roasted, seared, rested and cooled (and will be refrigerated when I start recooking).

You don't have to explain the food safety implications, I am aware of them. Just assume that in this case, I am willing to take the risk of eating the recooked meat.

Edit I am not all that interested in recipe suggestions, I guess a common stew will do. What I want is to know how the usual technique of slow cooking changes when the meat is precooked, and if somebody has already done this and can confirm that it works. By the way, the meat is now cut in chunks and marinating in the fridge.

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So, overall - how'd it turn out? –  rfusca Sep 27 '11 at 2:26

6 Answers 6

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I'll often do what my mom referred to as 'planned overs', and make too large of a roast for us to eat, then turn the rest into a stew or something else in the following nights.

The only comment I really have is that if you like the 'fall apart tender', I find it more difficult to get the second time around. I recall that Alton Brown specifically cooked the meat ahead of making a stew in an episode of Good Eats, and in checking the transcript of the episode, he said it's due to the behavior of gelatin:

You can see that the meat is very, very soft. It’s almost like pulled pork in there. We’ve had complete collagen to gelatin conversion. But when this cools for an hour, and if we refrigerate it after that, we’ll see that this is going to change. More on that later.

...

Now, what’s really interesting, though, is that once gelatin has reached the gel state, it takes more heat to re-dissolve it than it did to render it from collagen in the first place. And, believe it or not, that is a good thing

...

Ahh, the meat is perfectly heated through, but it’s not falling apart. That’s because we let it cool down before reheating, and that is why stews, braises, fricassees, and blanquettes are always better the second day.

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Based on the fact that there is still a lot of connective tissue - I don't think much of it made it to gelatin in the first place. –  rfusca Sep 26 '11 at 16:10
    
@rfusca : good point. It'd likely still need to be cooked for longer than you'd stew from raw for, as you'll need to re-disolve the gelatin so that liquid can get to the collagen so it can render. I'd personally cut it into chunks and let it braise when I can give it a few hours without being in a rush to get it on the table at a fixed time. (and I have turned a rare/med.rare 'london broil' cut of bottom round into stew many times ... it came out fine, but odds are, you've already cooked the center more than I had in my case.) –  Joe Sep 26 '11 at 16:20
    
Even though the answer didn't uncover anything very special about recooking meat, the mentioning of a source made me reasonably secure that there isn't an important thing I have overlooked (I like to think that if there was one, AB would have mentioned it). And the info about remelting gelatin is interesting, even though it didn't apply in the case of my rawish roast. So I accept this answer and not the recipe focused ones - although I think I'll try some of the recipes in the future. –  rumtscho Oct 4 '11 at 16:04

Stewing tough or thoroughly connective-tissued meats is, by design, something you do for a long time at pretty decent temperatures. Since your meat has already been cooked once, if anything you are going to be cooking it slightly less than what is described in whatever stew you decide on. Your food safety concern is admirable, but as long as you observe good food handling safety and cook the meat thoroughly, you should be good to go.

I will reiterate the chat's suggestion for a stew as a good one. However, a stroganoff (which is an American version of an Eastern European dish, I believe) would also be a good option. Basically any beef dish where the beef is diced up evenly in size and stewed in a sauce for a long while will work in helping you to use up this meat.

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A stroganoff (in the European sense of the word) is not a stew, it's usually made with fillet steak fried very quickly. –  ElendilTheTall Sep 26 '11 at 7:31
    
I will try to find an example of the type of recipe I am referring to -- we always made it with onions, mushrooms and stock that cooks down with the cubed meat for at least 20 minutes, but longer if you had used a 'worse' cut of meat. –  Katey HW Sep 26 '11 at 13:36
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@Elendil : Although no, it's not a stew in some regards, slicing it up and then cooking in that style might be a reasonable way to try to loosen up the connective tissue. –  Joe Sep 26 '11 at 16:22
    
I'd imagine that's the American version. Hereabouts it's a sauteed dish: fry the onions until soft, add mushrooms and soften, add fillet steak (coated in paprika), add brandy and flambe, add mustard, add sour cream. –  ElendilTheTall Sep 26 '11 at 21:37
    
@ElendilTheTall - I'm american and thats (your version) how I've always had it. –  rfusca Sep 27 '11 at 2:25

I'd suggest a chilli. Most people make it with ground/minced beef, but it's fantastic with chunks of 'stewing' beef. I usually use beef brisket, cut into large chunks (say 5cm) and simmer it for 3 hours before using 2 forks to pull the meat into shreds. Then bring back to the simmer for another half hour so the sauce reduces a little.

I've never made it with pre-cooked meat, but as it will be sitting in sauce for some time there should be no problems with dryness.

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I guess that to all intents and purposes your meat after roasting would be in a similar condition to pieces of meat after frying off to get a good surface colour and start flavour reactions before stewing. So I can't see any reason why it should behave any differently. What you now need to do is to trim off any thick sinew, put the meat in a stewing liquid of your choice, bring to a simmer and cook gently for about 3 hours on the stove or a gentle oven (130 deg C). I have occasionally used left-over roast meat for, say, curries, and they have come out fine.

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Make shredded beef enchiladas.

The cut of meat was probably better targeted for this use in the first place. Slow-cook it for 3 hours or so in a covered pot with your favorite salsa for moisture and flavor. Be sure it cooks long enough that it practically shreds itself. Also, consider throwing in an diced onion, diced green chiles, and some hot sauce or hot chile peppers. When the meat is done and shredded, roll it in four tortillas, pour over a can of enchilada sauce, and top with cheese. Garnish with sliced olives, sliced green onions, and maybe cilantro. Bake for a half an hour and everyone will love it.

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A short report from the battlefield ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H kitchen. I marinated the meat, then cooked the pieces for 2.5 hours in a dutch oven. Added potatoes, parsnip and carrots, together with some dried herbs and then cooked for another half an hour. It went really well, resulting in a very tasty stew.

A side result: I took the slightly-too-runny homemade mayo which was intended as a sauce to the roast, and mixed it into the stew. It tasted unexpectedly good, giving a creamy consistency to the stew liquid.

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