| Tips & Tricks | How to poach and simmer

How to poach and simmer

These cooking methods use moist, gentle heat to transform lower-priced beef and lamb cuts into flavoursome, moist, tender meat.



Poaching involves cooking an ingredient by submerging it in a liquid that is just barely simmering. To poach beef or lamb you would gently place it in a pot of simmering water that is heated between about 70–80 °C. In order to poach food effectively, it must be completely submerged in water.


Simmering requires the temperature of the liquid to be kept just below the boiling point of water (lower than 100 °C) and above poaching temperature (higher than 71–82 °C). When simmering, you will typically see small bubbles start to form in the liquid, but not enough to be considered a boil. There are three different types of simmering:

  1. Fine simmer – A fine simmer is defined by a scarce amount of small bubbles rising to the surface of the water every two to three seconds.
  2. Simmer – A simmer is identified by small but constant bubbles rising to the surface of the water.
  3. Vigorous simmer – A vigorous simmer occurs when more constant bubbles rise to the surface giving off frequent wisps of steam.

How to poach and simmer

  1. Trim any excess fat from meat and rinse if using corned meat. Tie meat in compact shape if necessary and weigh to calculate cooking time (see below).
  2. Bring a large pot of water to almost simmering, then place meat in pot. Add flavourings, eg vegetables, herbs, spices and seasonings.
  3. Bring to a simmer but do not boil, then reduce heat to low. Skim often. Cover and cook gently until tender when tested with a skewer.
  4. If serving hot, remove pot from heat, leaving meat in liquid for 15 minutes before carving. If serving cold, leave meat covered in liquid until cold.

Additional Tips

Cook gently

This will give the most tender results.

Arrange meat in a single layer in the pot

This will ensure even cooking.

Accompanying sauces

These can be made from well flavoured simmering liquid.

To tell when simmering liquid is ready

Look for tiny bubbles that begin to rise slowly to the surface, bursting occasionally.

Cooking times

  • Fresh Beef: 30-40 minutes per 500g
  • Corned Beef: 45-60 minutes per 500g

Best cuts for poaching and simmering

  • Chuck fillet
  • Oxtail
  • Brisket
  • Blade steak
  • Shin
  • Short ribs
  • Neck chops

Posted by Shawn Moodie