Boiled meat can make a tender and juicy stew or pot roast. Tough cuts of beef are tenderized through a slow cooking process using a small amount of liquid in a covered pot. Cooking with moist heat will not only make meat tender but also increase the digestibility and bioavailability of nutrients.
When boiling beef, simmer the liquid rather than cooking at a full boil. Your meat will cook more slowly and may take longer, but will be tender, tastier and retain more nutrients.
Boiling a Roast to Tenderize
If you're using a budget-friendly cut of beef to prepare a roast, cooking with moist heat is an effective way to tenderize the meat. Connective tissue proteins, such as collagen and elastin, control the toughness of muscle tissue. They are broken down and shrink from exposure to heat, according to an article published in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety in January 2018. This makes the meat easier to chew and digest.
Some cuts of beef that are appropriate for boiling and braising include the chuck, flank, shank, brisket, rump and round, according to Certified Angus Beef. One of the most popular uses for boiled meat is for beef pot roast, which is usually made with added vegetables and cooked in a liquid containing spices, herbs, soy sauce or other flavorings.
Boiling as a method of cooking may not be suitable for ground meats because the fibers have already been broken down. Making a boiled meatloaf or boiled meatballs using this technique would likely produce less than desirable results.
A study published in the Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences in February 2018 has found that boiling meat reduced the fat content but retained more moisture than roasting meat. However, as the temperature increased, boiled meat lost more weight and had an increase in saturated fats, while the total monounsaturated fatty acid content decreased.
Cooking It Right
The time required to tenderize beef by boiling depends on the size and weight of the piece of meat, in addition to the cooking temperature. A roast, such as a brisket or a shoulder, will take longer than cut-up pieces of stewing meat.
To boil a roast, cooking it slowly is the key to a fork-tender result. A medium-sized 6-pound roast will take about four hours. Here are some suggestions for your next Sunday pot roast:
- Put a small amount of water in the bottom of a large pot. To tender the meat, add an acid to the cooking water, such as a splash of lemon juice, some chopped tomatoes or Worcheshire sauce.
- Place the roast in the pot along with some crushed garlic. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and any spices of your choosing, such as thyme or rosemary. Cover the pot with a lid.
- Heat on the stovetop until the water is just simmering. Do not cook at a full boil. Try not to let the temperature of the liquid exceed 195 degrees Fahrenheit because the boiling temperature of water — 212 degrees Fahrenheit — toughens meat protein, warns the American Meat Science Association.
- As the meat cooks, you may need to add more water. You'll know it's cooked to a safe temperature when your thermometer reads 145 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the USDA's food safety recommendations.
- When the meat has finished cooking, let it rest for at least three minutes before slicing. Use the liquid for a sauce or gravy to regain some nutrients from the dissolved water-soluble vitamins.
Read more: How to Cook a Chuck Roast Perfectly
Does Boiled Meat Lose Nutrients?
All cuts of beef contain similar amounts of macronutrients. According to the USDA, a beef pot roast provides almost 98 calories per slice (63 grams). Rich in protein, beef offers 18.3 grams per slice without any carbs, fiber or sugar. The total fat content is 2.7 grams, including 1 gram of saturated fatty acids.
Meat contains all the essential amino acids that your body needs for energy. Amino acids make up the protein needed to build, maintain and repair your tissues. Each serving of beef provides numerous minerals and vitamins. As per the USDA, some of the most important nutrients include:
Iron – 1.8 milligrams
Phosphorus – 112 milligrams
Zinc – 2.8 milligrams
Selenium – 17 milligrams
Vitamin B12 – 0.77 micrograms
Thiamin – 0.02 milligrams
Riboflavin – 0.2 milligrams
Niacin – 2.6 milligrams
Vitamin B6 – 0.2 milligrams
Cooking time and temperature play an important role in the final characteristics of meat. Cooking doesn't significantly alter the protein value of meat unless you use a high temperature for a long period of time. Doing so can slightly decrease the protein's biological value, according to the American Meat Science Association (AMSA).
By boiling beef in liquid, some nutrients may be reduced. According to the Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety report, 100 percent of thiamin is lost in beef brisket boiled at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. AMSA says that meat cooked at lower internal temperatures usually retains more thiamin than meat cooked at higher temperatures.
Additionally, 84 percent of the B-vitamins riboflavin and niacin are lost by boiling meat, reports _Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safet_y. Boiling beef affects the mineral content by decreasing sodium, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium while increasing the levels of iron and zinc.
- Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety: "Domestic Cooking of Muscle Foods: Impact on Composition of Nutrients and Contaminants"
- Certified Angus Beef: "Braise"
- Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences: "Effects of Cooking Method and Final Core-Temperature on Cooking Loss, Lipid Oxidation, Nucleotide-Related Compounds and Aroma Volatiles of Hanwoo Brisket"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Beef, Pot Roast, Braised or Boiled, Lean and Fat Eaten"
- USDA MedlinePlus: "Amino Acids"
- American Meat Science Association: The Meat We Eat: "How are Nutrients Retained During Cooking"
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: "Safe Minimum Internal Temperature Chart"
- American Meat Science Association: Meat Cookery: "Methods of Cooking Meat"