This may be a basic question but I have never done it before (I have slow cooked meat before just not for the next day): I want to prepare different slow cooked meats, beef, pork and a lamb leg, for the next day that is going to be an out doors picnic. I know pulled pork keeps well when refrigerated but I also kept a beef joint in the fridge that felt a little dry the day after until reheated.

Could you offer any advice on achieving this without losing succulence or flavour on the next day? My idea so far is to cook them one by one then transfer them to a sealed container to preserve their moisture until cool then refrigerate until next day then prior to heading to the picnic reheat the meats for a short time to warm them up and have the juices flowing and be on my way.

Thank you

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    BTW: The quickest way to cool the meats is probably to put them with some liquid in a zip bag (Ziploc or similar), and then submerge that in an ice bath. Stirring the ice bath will help too. (The other quick ways are far more expensive, e.g., a blast chiller). – derobert May 13 '15 at 19:08
  • Yep I was onto such a thought train myself, my latest concern being that the meat and liquor out the slow cooker may start to melt the zip lock as it comes straight out the cooker. I concluded this could be avoided if the bag was already open and waiting in the ice bath for immediate removal of heat. I think this will be my course of action, thank you for positively reinforcing it – Fiztban May 14 '15 at 6:52
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    That sounds like a pain. The bag will float, water pressure will force it closed if you somehow submerge it, etc. Instead, just let it cool a little, say to a surface temperature of 80C, in the slow cooker. Then bag it. You only need to minimize time in the 4C - 60C danger zone. You might want to stir/baste it while cooling to 80C to make sure it's all the same temperature and no cold spots have formed. – derobert May 14 '15 at 8:54
  • That's a very reasonable point though I will also have help I will play around with how I do it, the basting sounds like a very good additional step while cooling – Fiztban May 14 '15 at 9:19

I would suggest you follow your plan, but reserve and refrigerate the cooking liquor to reheat the meat in, which will help with restoring juiciness.

However, be very careful when reheating and keeping meat warm. The meat should not be in the danger zone (5-60°C/40-140°F) for more than 2 hours, cumulatively, throughout its 'lifetime'. You should avoid moving the meat through the danger zone too often as well. This means you need to cool the meat quickly, reheat it quickly, and minimise the time it takes to get to the plate. If you've got a long drive to your picnic, or it's going to be a while before you eat, I'd consider serving it cold instead.

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  • Thank you for your advice, much appreciated, the time to the picnic is 30 minutes so I think it will try to cool it down as fast as possible from the cooking once its done. When you say reserving the cooking liquor do you mean to actually separate it from the meat once out of the slow cook? – Fiztban May 13 '15 at 17:25
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    I guess you could keep the meat in the cooking liquor, though it might take longer to cool down in that case. – ElendilTheTall May 13 '15 at 18:58
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    @Fiztban Or put them in a cooler (without ice, of course!) to keep them hot. Make sure that the cooler can take the heat (e.g., plastic won't melt or deform). [Coolers work by insulating, slowing heat flow. That works both ways—hot things stay hot longer, cold things stay cold longer. Obviously, one must not mix hot and cold things in the same cooler.] Your goal is to stay above 60°C/140°F. – derobert May 13 '15 at 19:16
  • Thank you again for your comments, indeed I was thinking of using my cooler as a warmer, thank you for your technical addition on insulation working both ways. I think after dunking the meats in ice baths and proceeding to refrigeration I will reheat them in their juices up to 100C and then place them into my cooler turned warmer. Thank you – Fiztban May 14 '15 at 6:55

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