Finding a method to shorten the cooking time of a cut of beef is a real time-saver for busy moms. Cuts like chuck roast and brisket benefit from long cooking times that break down tough fibers and add flavor. Some preparation methods help speed the process along, but the biggest tool for reducing the time it takes to cook beef may be one you inherited from your mother, so be sure to share it with your children.
Using a pressure cooker is one of the most efficient ways for busy moms to cook meat quickly. The pot cooks the meat by trapping steam inside and causing water to boil at a higher temperature. The steam penetrates the meat, causing tough parts to break down. Cubed meat cooks in about 15 minutes, and a tough roast may finish up in 30 minutes, depending on its size and the cut. Bring an inch or two of water to a boil in the cooker, add the meat and seal the pot completely. The pressure builds, and a valve or vent lets off the extra steam. Read your user's manual carefully before you use a pressure cooker for the first time.
A tightly covered Dutch oven in a slow, or low-temperature, oven reduces the cooking time slightly and transforms a tough cut of meat into a flavorful dish that retains its juices. It's also a no fuss way for a busy cook to prepare a meal with a minimum of preparation. Sear the beef in the Dutch oven and add an inch of broth and seasonings, such as pepper, paprika and ranch seasoning mix. Cook the beef in a slow oven set between 300 and 325 degrees for about 45 minutes, depending on the cut. This is less than half the time of a traditional pot roast. This method is good for pot roasts because you can add potatoes, carrots and onions before you put the roast in the oven. It's an easy way to make tender beef ribs. Cubing the beef further reduces the cooking time.
Cubing, shredding and slicing cuts of beef reduces cooking time because the meat takes less time to cook through. Cut away visible sinew and gristle before you use the beef. Marinades, especially those made with an acidic base, tenderize the beef, shortening the cooking time. Use 1/4 cup of marinade for each pound of beef. Tender cuts only need to marinate for just under a half hour, but tougher cuts need at least six hours. Marinate meats in the refrigerator so bacteria doesn't grow and turn it every 20 minutes or so. Using a meat mallet to make cutlets is another effective way to tenderize sliced beef and shorten the cooking time.
Microwave ovens aren't typically used to cook beef, with the exception of ground beef, sausages and hot dogs. Microwave ovens are handy for defrosting meat, which lessens the amount of preparation time from freezer to table. If you defrost a package of ground beef in the microwave, take it out of the plastic casing before you put it in the oven, and keep an eye on it so the ends don't cook before the middle is defrosted. If you prepare ground beef in the microwave, either as hamburger patties or as part of a ground filling for a dish, cover it loosely with plastic wrap or drape a paper towel over the top to reduce splattering. Cook it immediately, as the microwave defrosting process heats the meat to a temperature that is unsafe to refrigerate without being fully cooked first.
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