Long cook time question

I have read that, while meat may not be “overcooked” after a long cook time, cooking too long could result in a more mushy rather than tender result.

My question is how that applies to larger beef roasts. Can a cook time long enough to get a perfect tender center result in a mushy texture on the outer edges of a roast?


Mouthfeel and tenderness are the result of collagen in the muscles being broken down into gelatin. This happens slowly at low temperatures and increases in speed as the temperature is increased.

A hard working muscle will have a high collagen content and will therefore require a longer cooking time.

Roasting cuts can be from hard working muscle groups like rump/round or low working muscle groups like tenderloin. You need to know where on the beastie your roasting cut resides.

The longer you cook, the more collagen is converted to gelatin and the more tender your meat will be. There is a sweet spot for everybody where the texture and mouthfeel are just perfect to their preference. Cooking beyond this point will simply result in more collagen to gelatin conversion and more tenderness.

The description of a piece of meat as mushy is a subjective appraisal. What seems ‘mushy’ to you might be fork cut perfection to someone else.

If you continue to cook the meat for long enough that all of the collagen is converted it will lose its structural integrity. Then everyone would call it mushy.

The thing to remember is everyone has an expectation of what texture they expect from a piece of meat. Yours will be different to mine. You will need to experiment to find your point of preference.

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Yes, you can do a large roast. After the first hour or two, the temperature will be uniform throughout, so you won’t over-cook the outside.

Also, it might be worth mentioning that the inner meat of a roast will be cooked the same as the “the outer edges of a roast” when cooking sous vide, so texture change from the sous vide cooking will likely be similar throughout. Searing may impact texture on the “outer edges” though.

While it wasn’t a roast in their test, the guys at “Sous Vide Everything” on YouTube did a test where they cooked a steak for a week… Here’s a link to their video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXmbybmO06s

Ok. I gritted my teeth and watched it. They didn’t use the same temp so they’re not exactly comparitive. I did notice the have a month long beisket.

Yeah. The results of that month long cook were…Evil. EVIL!!! One word - Autolysis.

I was actually kind of surprised that both the guys at Sous Vide Everything as well as all of the people in the YouTube comments section were unaware that autolysis was their problem. It’s made me appreciate how much everyone sharing their experiences here has educated me regarding both sous vide in particular and cooking in general.
(And thank you @Ember for being the one who originally taught me what to look for regarding autolysis so that my first and only experience with it did not leave me as perplexed as they were in that video!!!)

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Find it funny that they recognize that fat goes rancid but not that meat goes off even without the assistance of bacteria.