I know I keep banging on about the excessive wetness of meat (and smoked fish), from Sainsbury’s, but it really is a major problem – we are paying meat prices for water. Whether it’s a product of dubious production methods (slaughterhouses not allowing slaughtered animals to bleed out sufficiently, and the meat not hung for even the shortest time, with retained blood thus boosting the apparent weight all the way down the line to retail level), or deliberately added. As I’ve said in an earlier post, there’s an excuse in cured meats, as the cure is dissolved in water and injected. There’s no excuse in a beef roasting joint. See footnote, also.
I bought a 2.2kg silverside joint from Sainsbury’s just before Christmas, and braised it in the slow cooker, before slicing it, making gravy with the stock, and portioning it all for the freezer (a couple of portions wound up with Oxo Caramelised Onion gravy, as there wasn’t enough).
The meat shrank – no biggie you might think, meat always shrinks. However, I was just about to start on the slicing and portioning stage, when out of curiosity – because it was so very much smaller than it had been – I weighed the meat.
Bear in mind that there is little, if any, evaporation from a slow cooker (crock pot in the colonies), and I allowed the meat to cool overnight in the cooking liquid. So, what would you expect it to weigh now? 10% less? 20%?
In fact it weighed a almost whole kilo less, as you can clearly see from the pic of the meat, its label, and the scales)!
It originally weighed, as you can see 2.202kg. It now weighs, including the label and the clingfilm it’s wrapped in (just a few grams, but hey, it needs all the help it can get!), a mere 1.270kg. There were also a very few grams of fat that cooked out of it, but no more, once cooled, than a very thin scum of fat on the top of the stock, not enough, even, to be able to scrape up and weigh even after it had been chilled in the fridge, so that’s a loss of 932g, deduct the weight of the wet and greasy cling film, the label, and a small amount for fat, so let’s call it 940g lighter than it was.
As I said, meat shrinks no matter how you cook it, but to lose just almost 43% is absolutely absurd, and greatly increases the actual cost of the meat.** As it was it gave me 11 portions – without the loss of weight, it would have given me 16.
**The meat price was reduced by 50% – so did they know this was going to happen?
I’m beginning to think that the only meat which won’t lose volume and weight on cooking is a joint of dry-cured ham.
One final thought, a Ham Hock Terrine from Sainsbury’s was absolutely dire. This should be a simple dish, hunks of tender, cooked, ham hock, lightly herbed with parsley, seasoned with pepper, and bound with jelly made from the cooking liquor which included a pig’s trotter for its jellifying properties, and maybe gelatine. That’s it.
Sainsbury’s was a tough as old boots (clearly undercooked), and, instead of parsley, they’d thrown an entire compost heap of herbs and assorted crap at it, as you can see, below (and note that water is the second largest ingredient after pork):-
Pork (79%), Water, Salt, Spices and Spice Extracts (Pepper, Coriander, Caraway, Rosemary, Oregano, Basil, Thyme, Bell Pepper, Dextrose, Onion, Garlic, Parsley, Pepper, Pepper Extract, Juniper Berry Extract, Nutmeg Extract, Sage Extract, Laurel Leaf Extract, Rosemary Extract, Oregano Extract), Natural Meat Flavouring (Pork Stock, Glucose Syrup), Sugar, Stabiliser: Triphosphates, Polyphosphates, Antioxidant: Sodium Ascorbate, Preservative: Sodium Nitrite.
Despite all that – or, perhaps, because of it – what it tasted of was bugger all. Nor was there the slightest suggestion of jelly – no pig’s trotter or even gelatine in the list above either. It was, though, wet throughout, not with what might conceivably have been melted jelly, or a tasty, but unjellified stock, but plain, cold, tasteless, water.
Note: Pay attention next time you see carcases being delivered to a traditional butcher – they don’t drip blood, the flesh is just moist, but not wet. Compare and contrast with the blood-soaked meat that’s sold in supermarkets like Sainsbury’s. And I’m not claiming Sainsbury’s is unique in this, but that’s where I shop.