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How long should I braise a small beef chuck roast, about 1 pound, on top the stove? Does it need to be totally immersed in liquid?

  • You can't braise on a stove top. – Mr. Mascaro Mar 19 '15 at 12:50
  • @jbarker2160 why not? – Doug Mar 19 '15 at 13:54
  • @Doug, that's not how braising works. Braising needs heat at the top and bottom to work. A properly braised dish should be both caramelized from dry heat on top and stewed at the same time. You can't achieve that on a stove top. You can stew on a stovetop, but that's not really the same thing. A braise uses a relatively small amount of liquid, if any. On a stovetop you can't really cook this way except by steaming which is not the same thing. – Mr. Mascaro Mar 19 '15 at 14:06
  • @jbarker2160 I see no reason why braising must be done in an oven though. Usually you sear/brown your meat first then add a little liquid and cook it slowly. I've done this in a pan, an oven and a slow cooker over the years and have never noticed any difference. If in need of extra colour at the end there's always the grill or blow torch. – Doug Mar 19 '15 at 14:15
  • @Doug, If you can find an alternate definition anywhere or braise, feel free to share it. – Mr. Mascaro Mar 19 '15 at 14:30
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Try a self basting lid? My cast iron lids all have self basting bumps on them. This lets the water and oil that's splattered up drip back down on the food rather than running off to the sides.

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Cooking it on the stovetop means that the top of the item can be significantly cooler than the bottom. When you consider that liquids can carry more thermal energy than air, this can result in a signficant problems when cooking.

I'd recommend at least one of the following:

  • Use a tight-fitting lid, so that there's a signficant amount of steam trapped in the pot. (but this won't help may not be enough if you're cooking it very slowly, like in a slow cooker (well below the boil)).
  • Keep the meat completely submerged.
  • Toss a few vegetables in first (eg, onions & carrots), so the meat isn't in direct contact with the bottom of the pot)
  • Cook it in an oven.
  • Use a meat thermometer with a temperature alarm rather than relying on time.

As for cooking times, it's really difficult to say, as the shape of the meat can be a significant factor -- a cube of meat is going to take longer to cook than a relatively thin steak of the same weight. Although you called it a 'roast', 1 lb is rather small for a chuck roast, so it might be more along the lines of a chuck steak.

I'd estimate 1-2 hrs at 275°F, 2-3 hrs at 200°F. (and this is why I cook it in an oven). I'd start checking it at the lower time, and then use that to estimate how much longer to cook it. If it's a rather thin cut, and you don't like your meat completely falling apart, you might want to start checking it a bit earlier.

  • I'd contest the lid not making a difference on a slow cooker. By keeping in the heat from the steam that condenses on the lid, I find that it makes a HUGE difference. Likewise, in any tightly covered pot cooking, most of the heat transfer above the waterline is from condensing steam, not air. – Ecnerwal Mar 19 '15 at 13:49
  • In addition the the above comment. I learnt in science at school that air is notoriously hard to heat (even the sun struggles) whereas we all know how easy water (steam) is to heat up. – Doug Mar 19 '15 at 13:56
  • @Ecnerwal : I admit that 'won't help' might have been too strong, as it will have a significant impact. 'Likely not enough' may be more accurate, if we're dealing w/ low temperatures (~150°F) for short times (due to the small portion). – Joe Mar 19 '15 at 14:50
  • My slow cooker will maintain a simmer (ie, 210-212F) even on low, IF the lid is on. 150F is sous vide territory. – Ecnerwal Mar 19 '15 at 16:33

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