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I am cooking a brisket in a pot with water and vegetables, on a stove top.

I meant to leave it on a slow simmer, so that it would get very soft. About 2 hours after I started cooking it, after having left the room for a while, I found it in a rolling boil.

The meat was no longer pink or red, but a grayish-brown well-done colour, and tasted cooked but was a little tough. Will it get softer if I cook it longer on a slow simmer?

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Well there is good news and bad news. The good news is, if you keep cooking it, the proteins will eventually break down and the meat will get softer. The bad news is, the boiling for so long may have spent the goodness of the meat.

More good news however. The meaty goodness has likely been transferred to the broth. You could convert your dish to a small bite stew, and no one would be the wiser, and the broth will impart some great flavor to root veg you might add to a stew. (Potato, parsnips, turnips, carrots, etc.)

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    This Dutch article has an interesting quote on the subject which doesn't translate well but which basically says that you've either got good stock (cooked for hours) or good beef (cooked until done). The article goes on to quote a 19th century chef, Philippe Edouard Cauderlier, who argues that a good beef broth should cook for multiple hours but good stewed beef should then be cooked in that broth for less than 3 hours, which "is preferable to the Parisian pot-au-feu which boils beef until it falls apart and becomes inedible." – user25798 Nov 25 '15 at 23:59
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    Can you clarify what you mean by "spent the goodness of the meat"? – RockPaperLizard Nov 26 '15 at 0:01
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    @RockPaperLizard well I think most people know what I mean, but to clarify, I mean the meat juice where most of the flavor is. What's left behind may still be meat and connective tissue, but it'll be rather bland since its been extracted into the broth. That's why making the meat bite sized may be a way to save it. Since you aren't going to notice the lack of juicy flavor in a small bite if the recipe is converted into a stew. It'll likely taste perfect because of everything it's surrounded with. – Escoce Nov 26 '15 at 17:23

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