Then comes the pro tip: Zimmern cooks everything together in the liquid from the vegetables and a healthy portion of white wine – but he doesn’t heat the mixture to a boil. Instead, he keeps everything on a low simmer, which keeps the meat from getting tough the way it would if it was at full boil. The ingredients are covered and left to cook gently for over an hour, yielding tender, pull-apart rib meat. And, wouldn’t you know it? His claim seems to be backed up by some pretty solid science.
According to Cooking Light, “Meats that are simmered remain moist and fork-tender, while boiled meats are often dry and tough because the heat of boiling liquid can cause their proteins to toughen.” Indeed, Cook’s Illustrated reminds us that we rarely fully “boil” food unless it’s to cook potatoes or pasta. You can tell the difference between simmering and boiling from the amount of bubbles – in a boil, they’ll continually rise to the top and break, but in a simmer, bubbles are small and only sometimes break the surface (via Cook’s Illustrated).