Thermal Cookers - Shrinking Meat

Submitted: Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 19:22
ThreadID: 101808 Views:2556 Replies:5 FollowUps:7
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Has anyone else had the problem of their piece of Corned Beef shrinking during cooking - or am I doing something wrong?

I was give a Thermal cooker for my birthday and have been having a go before we head of around Oz next year. I cooked a 1.3 kg piece of corned beef according to the recipe book and when it came time to eat it it had shrunk by over half.

Normally that size would be enough for our family of 4 (2 childerbeasts aged 5 and 11) with leftovers for the next day.

Am I doing something wrong or is this normal with this type of cooking?


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Reply By: Kev - Member - Wynnum - Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 20:11

Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 20:11
Hi Anthony,
Was the meat purchased from your normal meat supplier. Maybe it was pumped too much.
AnswerID: 509493

Follow Up By: Member - ACD 1 - Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 20:59

Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 20:59
Hi Kev

Purchased from a well known supermarket - have purchased from there in the past and cooked on stove top with normal outcome.

The firstborn childerbeast did say that it was very salty - I don't use salt to cook so you may be onto something with it being over pumped with brine. ( I suppose water costs the same as the meat LOL)

The nagivator just suggested - could it be from freezing it first? Normally we don't freeze corned meat?

Anyway - it tasted OK, super tender even if a it saltier than normal - just have to try again. Lamb shanks last week were to die for...


FollowupID: 787392

Follow Up By: Bazooka - Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 22:51

Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 22:51
Lamb shanks. Got a recipe you'd like to share Anthony?
FollowupID: 787404

Follow Up By: Member - ACD 1 - Monday, Apr 22, 2013 at 22:42

Monday, Apr 22, 2013 at 22:42
Hi Bazooka

I can't claim the recipe as my own but here it is. ( I hope I don't get in trouble for breach of copyright etc - but it is on the www for free). It is from Jamie Oliver's book Jamie's Great Britain. I have explained at the bottom how I have adapted it for the thermal cooker.


3 red onions, peeled
olive oil
sea salt and ground pepper
2 handfuls of raisins
3 heaped tablespoons thick-cut marmalade
1 heaped tablespoon tomato ketchup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, plus extra for serving
200ml Guinness or smooth dark ale
6 lamb shanks, roughly 350g each
8 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 litre organic chicken stock

Finely chop the onions and put them into a really large casserole-type pan (roughly 26cm in diameter and 12cm deep), with a lug of olive oil and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook over a medium to high heat, stirring as you go, until the onions start to caramelize. Add the raisins and marmalade, then add the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and booze. Give it all a good stir, then leave to gently simmer.

Put the lamb shanks into a large frying pan (roughly 30cm wide) on a medium to high heat with a drizzle of olive oil – you can cook them in batches if needed. Turn them every few minutes; once they have some good colour, pick in the rosemary leaves and move them around in the pan to get crispy, but don’t let them burn. Use tongs to move the shanks into the pan of onions, then pour in all their juices and the crispy rosemary. Add the stock, put the lid on, turn down the heat and leave to blip away slowly for around 3 hours, or until the meat falls off the bone easily. Try to turn the shanks halfway through so they cook evenly.

When the lamb shanks are ready, carefully move them to a platter, making sure the meat stays intact. Whiz or liquidize the gravy with a stick blender until smooth, then allow to reduce down and thicken.

Add a little splash of cider vinegar and a few more splashes of Worcestershire sauce to the sauce, then ladle it all over the lamb shank and pour the rest into a jug for people to help themselves.


I browned the shanks first in the 6 lt inner pot first, then put them aside while I did the saucy bit. Then I put the shanks in the sauce and simmered for 25 mins to get the heat up. I cooked some potatoes in he top pot for mash to serve with it and put the whole lot aside for 6 and a bit hours.

Because I was trying this for camping, I used what I would have in my pantry, so I used dried rosemary and pushed the saucy stuff through a wire sieve to get it smoother before thickening

All in all a very enjoyable meal - even the "Monster-in-law" was impressed.

There are a heap of recipes on he www that I want to try. Hope you enjoy


FollowupID: 787476

Follow Up By: Bazooka - Monday, Apr 22, 2013 at 23:10

Monday, Apr 22, 2013 at 23:10
Thanks Anthony
FollowupID: 787480

Reply By: gbc - Monday, Apr 22, 2013 at 06:09

Monday, Apr 22, 2013 at 06:09
It's all about how the meat was prepared before you bought it. You'll find the cheaper cuts of chicken breast will also reduce massively as whatever they were pumped with seeps out into the pan . Nothing you can do about it at cooking time though.
AnswerID: 509507

Follow Up By: Member - ACD 1 - Monday, Apr 22, 2013 at 22:49

Monday, Apr 22, 2013 at 22:49
Thanks for the reply gbc - it would appear that the "what is pumped in before" may be a possible reason.

Being spoilt with good home grown meat from the family farm, I forget what is like to buy meat from the shop. We will have to get to get back into corning and making sausages again - will have to get the cousins to help out cause I haven't done it for a while


FollowupID: 787477

Reply By: The Bantam - Monday, Apr 22, 2013 at 09:40

Monday, Apr 22, 2013 at 09:40
It seems there are some things that work well in these stored heat cookers and some things don't.

We do corned beef on the stove fairly regular and...realy....I cant see it working all that well in a stored heat cooker.

The whole idea of a stored heat cooker is to get the contents right up to temperature before they are closed in the insualtion.

Corned beef you have a big lump of meat......once the core of the lump is up to is done.

Generally corned beef you want to get the core up to temp as fast as possible.....that means a steady simmer.....a stored heat cooker will not do that.

It occurs to me that the proteens in the meat have contracted and squeezed the water out of the meat.

Oh of course if the lump of meat is half the size it will be twice as salty. not be affraid to put sat in the water when cooking corned does not make the meat saltier...actually the opposite I find.

AnswerID: 509519

Follow Up By: Member - ACD 1 - Monday, Apr 22, 2013 at 22:58

Monday, Apr 22, 2013 at 22:58
Hi Bantam

The meat cooked ok and was very tender, it's just the bugger shrunk.

I am going to try again with a piece of meat that is corned by the local butcher who has bought our cows for his shop. I have tried his corn before on the stove top and it was beautiful. Hopefully this will be a little more trust worthy.

I also always bring any meat up to room temp before cooking so that it isn't shocked when it is cooked.


FollowupID: 787478

Reply By: Member - John and Lynne - Monday, Apr 22, 2013 at 20:44

Monday, Apr 22, 2013 at 20:44
We have never had any problem cooking corned beef in our thermal cooker or in our electric slow cooker. However the quality of corned beef varies - we now only buy from reputable butchers who make their own. Over pumping is common. Also it is possible to overcook meat in these cookers. For a thermal cooker you need to bring the pot to boiling temperature, with the lid on, and keep it there as long as specified in the instructions. This does not cook the meat but creates a hot environment with sufficient heat to finish cooking the meat at a safe temperature in the insulated pot. Although it will be safe for eight hours or so that is possibly too long for corned beef - we leave it for much less - a bit more than the minimum time given in the instructions.
Keep trying. Lynne
AnswerID: 509556

Follow Up By: Member - ACD 1 - Monday, Apr 22, 2013 at 23:07

Monday, Apr 22, 2013 at 23:07
Hi Lynne

I think the quality of the meat may be the key factor - both before it is corned, how it is corned and how much water is pumped into it.

We have a farm so acces to good meat is no problem, it is just that corning and making sausage etc is so time consuming. May have to start having a go at it again.

Our local butcher takes our beasts and his corns etc are pretty good so I will have a go with some of his.

I will have another cack at it and reduce the time a bit - I did exactly as you have suggested but left it for about 7 hours. May be a it too long.

Anyway, new technology for us and it is fun playing.



FollowupID: 787479

Reply By: nellyjr - Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 11:22

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 11:22
We use both a Slow cooker and a Thermal Cooker (dream pot) which have very different affects on the meat. with the slow cooker, we do cook in liquid but as stated on a previous post the moisture does seem to be pushed or sucked out of the meat.
we have found that by simply slicing or pulling apart the meat, then put it back in the liquid it was cooked in for 5 mins or so,it reabsorbs the liquid, and is then moist, tasty but most off all back to near the normal size.
AnswerID: 510034

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