Low temperature cooking
Low-temperature cooking is a cooking technique, a variant of roasting
Roasting is a cooking method that uses dry heat, whether an open flame, oven, or other heat source. Roasting usually causes caramelization or Maillard browning of the surface of the food, which is considered by some as a flavor enhancement. Roasting uses more indirect, diffused heat , and is...

, which is claimed to produce more tender and tasty results than traditional high-temperature roasting. In low-temperature cooking, the food to be cooked (typically a red meat
Red meat
Red meat in traditional culinary terminology is meat which is red when raw and not white when cooked. In the nutritional sciences, red meat includes all mammal meat. Red meat includes the meat of most adult mammals and some fowl ....

, such as beef
Beef is the culinary name for meat from bovines, especially domestic cattle. Beef can be harvested from cows, bulls, heifers or steers. It is one of the principal meats used in the cuisine of the Middle East , Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Europe and the United States, and is also important in...

) is cooked for a long period of time (in the region of 10–20 hours) at a low temperature (in some cases, as low as 55°C, 131°F). The technique, developed in the 1970s by Georges Pralus for the Troisgros restaurant, is now favoured by avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

chefs including Marc Veyrat
Marc Veyrat
Marc Veyrat is a French chef from the Haute-Savoie region, who specialises in molecular gastronomy and the use of mountain plants and herbs. Although he is hardly known in the American culinary scene, he is one of the most famous chefs in the European restaurant scene.Veyrat is considered by some...

 and Heston Blumenthal
Heston Blumenthal
Heston Marc Blumenthal OBE is an English chef and owner of The Fat Duck, a three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Bray, Berkshire voted Best Restaurant in the UK by The Good Food Guide 2007 and 2009, and voted best restaurant in the world by Restaurant magazine in 2005...



Meat is cooked for four reasons — to tenderise it, to provide additional flavours, to kill harmful bacteria
Bacteria are a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals...

, and to kill parasites such as Trichinella spiralis
Trichinella spiralis
Trichinella spiralis is a nematode parasite, occurring in rats, pigs, bears and humans, and is responsible for the disease trichinosis. It is sometimes referred to as the "pork worm" due to it being found commonly in undercooked pork products...

 and Diphyllobothrium. While all four can be achieved by cooking a piece of meat at high temperature for a short period of time, this is not the only way; it can also be achieved by cooking at low temperature for a long period of time. Each goal is achieved at a different temperature, and takes a different length of time to achieve. There is an inverse relationship between temperature and time; low and slow, or high and fast, with Southern BBQ being a excellent example of low and slow - taking a tough cut of meat and producing pulled pork BBQ by cooking low (at low temperature) and slow (for a long duration).


Several protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

s that form the structure of muscle tissue (meat) give it toughness: actin
Actin is a globular, roughly 42-kDa moonlighting protein found in all eukaryotic cells where it may be present at concentrations of over 100 μM. It is also one of the most highly-conserved proteins, differing by no more than 20% in species as diverse as algae and humans...

, myosin
Myosins comprise a family of ATP-dependent motor proteins and are best known for their role in muscle contraction and their involvement in a wide range of other eukaryotic motility processes. They are responsible for actin-based motility. The term was originally used to describe a group of similar...

 and collagen
Collagen is a group of naturally occurring proteins found in animals, especially in the flesh and connective tissues of mammals. It is the main component of connective tissue, and is the most abundant protein in mammals, making up about 25% to 35% of the whole-body protein content...

. Heating these proteins causes them to denature, or break down into other substances, which changes the structure and texture of meat, usually reducing its toughness (increasing tenderness). This typically happens between 55°C and 65°C (131°F and 149°F) over an extended period of time.


Flavours may be enhanced by the Maillard reaction
Maillard reaction
The Maillard reaction is a form of nonenzymatic browning similar to caramelization. It results from a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar, usually requiring heat....

, which combines sugar
Sugar is a class of edible crystalline carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose, characterized by a sweet flavor.Sucrose in its refined form primarily comes from sugar cane and sugar beet...

s and amino acid
Amino acid
Amino acids are molecules containing an amine group, a carboxylic acid group and a side-chain that varies between different amino acids. The key elements of an amino acid are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen...

s at temperatures above 100°C (212°F). A roast meat typically has a brown crust, which is caused by such a reaction and is generally considered desirable. Meat can be braised before being cooked at low temperature to obtain the benefits of both methods.


Bacteria are typically killed at temperatures of around 68°C (154°F). Most harmful bacteria live on the surface of pieces of meat (assuming the meat has not been ground or shredded before cooking). As a result, for unprocessed steaks or chops of red meat it is usually safe merely to bring the surface temperature of the meat to this temperature and hold it there for a few minutes. See food safety


Since low temperature cooking reduces the amount of fat rendered out of the meat, producing gravy from the meat may be more difficult. However, gravy may be unnecessary since the meat is often sufficiently moist when cooked using this technique.


A typical process for low-temperature cooking would involve briefly raising the temperature of the outside of the food to a high temperature (e.g., 400º F), using a roasting pan or even a blow torch. The food would normally then be placed into a low-temperature oven for a long duration, before being rested (cooled) briefly prior to serving. One eccentric variant of low-temperature cooking involves placing the food in a dishwasher
A dishwasher is a mechanical device for cleaning dishes and eating utensils. Dishwashers can be found in restaurants and private homes.Unlike manual dishwashing, which relies largely on physical scrubbing to remove soiling, the mechanical dishwasher cleans by spraying hot water, typically between ...


See also

  • Temperature (meat)
    Temperature (meat)
    Temperature is a description of how thoroughly cooked a cut of meat is based on the color, juiciness and internal temperature when cooked. The gradations of cooking are most often used in reference to beef but are also applicable to lamb, pork, poultry, veal, and seafood .Gradations, their...

  • Molecular gastronomy
    Molecular gastronomy
    Molecular gastronomy is a subdiscipline of food science that seeks to investigate, explain and make practical use of the physical and chemical transformations of ingredients that occur while cooking, as well as the social, artistic and technical components of culinary and gastronomic phenomena in...

  • Sous-vide
    Sous-vide is a method of cooking food sealed in airtight plastic bags in a water bath for a long time—72 hours is not unusual—at an accurately determined temperature much lower than normally used for cooking, typically around...

  • Food safety
    Food safety
    Food safety is a scientific discipline describing handling, preparation, and storage of food in ways that prevent foodborne illness. This includes a number of routines that should be followed to avoid potentially severe health hazards....

  • Critical control point
    Critical Control Point
    Critical control point is a point, step or procedure at which controls can be applied and a food safety hazard can be prevented, eliminated or reduced to acceptable levels...

External links

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