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Minimizing Moisture Loss in Meat

By Cook's Illustrated Published March 2011

We recently conducted an experiment that proves that even cooking isn’t the only benefit of slow-roasting, our preferred cooking method for large cuts of meat. It also helps minimize the loss of flavorful juices (and fat).

For large cuts of meat or poultry, we often advocate a low-and-slow cooking method (with a short hit of intense heat at the very end to brown the exterior) rather than the more traditional high-temperature roasting all the way through. We find that this approach allows the center to come up to the desired internal temperature with less risk of overcooking the outer layers. But we recently conducted an experiment that proves that even cooking isn’t the only benefit of slow-roasting: It also helps minimize the loss of flavorful juices (and fat).

We took two identical 6-pound rib roasts (trimmed of fat) and roasted one at 450 degrees and the other at 250 degrees until each was medium-rare, or 125 degrees, at the center. We then weighed the cooked roasts. The slow-cooked roast had lost about 9.25 percent of its starting weight, while the high-temperature roast had lost nearly 25 percent of its original weight. Why the difference? It’s simple: Proteins shrink less and express less moisture and fat when cooked at moderate temperatures than at high heat.

So the next time you’re tempted to turn up the heat on your roast, think twice.

Done in 281 ms! 61.385 KiB - 7.5% = 56.776 KiB