The Best Thing To Do With A Tough Cut Of Slow Cooker Meat

One of the most appealing things about the slow cooker is how relatively simple it is to use. You can basically chuck anything into it, push a couple of buttons, and leave it alone – almost. However, one of the more common issues people have with slow cooking is ending up with something dry. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to avoid tough, slow-cooked meat.

The key to reviving overcooked or chewy protein is to simmer it in something saucy. For example, let's say you overcooked your chuck roast. No problem: now it's the perfect thing for delicious birria tacos. Did you end up with dry slow-cooked chicken breast? Don't worry. You now have the basis of some delicious chicken chili. If you find yourself with less than perfectly-cooked meat, you'll want to find a recipe to use it in which will rehydrate and tenderize it in a sauce or stock. You can make anything from stews to barbecue with overcooked fare.

Ways to avoid toughness

While tough meat isn't the end of the world, let's talk about some ways you can avoid toughness altogether. You want to be sure you're using the right cut of meat for slow cooking, so consider its fat content. Marbled or bone-in meats are better suited for the slow cooker as they're self-basting and require less added moisture.

You can also marinate the meat in dairy (like yogurt or buttermilk) before slow cooking to prevent dryness. The lactic acid in dairy breaks down muscle and helps to tenderize. You can achieve the same thing with other acids like vinegar or citrus.

Patience is key. It's tempting to open the lid to check on your meat, but doing this lets moisture escape, and doing this too frequently will guarantee you end up with something dry and flavorless. You also need to let your protein rest after it is pulled from the slow cooker to help retain moisture. At the end of the day, you can't really mess up a slow-cooked meal — even if you don't end up with something perfectly cooked, you can rest assured there is a perfect application for even the old shoe-iest of meats.