I've asked this question today. The title was a good summary of what I really wanted to ask:

How to adjust stewing time for different weights of meat?

I wanted to know if there are some good rules of thumb and/or general tables for various kinds of meat and how to adjust stewing time based on weight.

The question I wrote however, ended up being far more specific. It starts with the specific occasion that prompted me to ask the question: a particular recipe that calls for Lamb meat. In fact, when I now read my question, it is no surprise that the current answer is specific to my situation.

So, my meta questions:

  • How specific should- or how general may questions be here?
  • If it can be a bit more general, would it be okay to rewrite my original question a bit? Or should I ask a new one? Or...

If possible I prefer more "canonical" questions, but they run a risk of being "too broad" I guess. What do you guys think?

1 Answer 1


I don't think there's any hard and fast rule for generality, because the appropriate breadth depends on the subject matter.

For example, What is the recommended safe cooking time/temperature for various meats? is a good question because it's asking for well-established information that fits on a 1-page chart. On the other hand, What are the best food-wine pairings? is a pretty bad question because the result would be a mile-long list of everybody's opinions.

Most of the time, the "canonicalization" of questions is best left to the people doing the answering, since as the asker it's hard for you to predict just how many answers there are going to be or how long they are going to be. It's entirely possible that there isn't a single general answer. Feel free to ask a general question, but you should still include details about your specific problem in case the question turns out not to be as generalizable as you thought it would be.

On the other hand, once a few similar questions have been asked, people who are highly proficient in the subject matter will often take an interest and start merging things or creating canonical answers. It's been done a bunch of times for food safety and substitution questions in particular.

Anyway, it's not like you only get one kick at the can. Ask at whatever level of generality you think is appropriate; worst thing that can happen is that it gets closed, then you edit with more specific details, then ask for it to be reopened. Members and mods here are usually pretty accommodating in that regard as long as it doesn't turn into mud-slinging or an edit war.

  • Your answer makes a lot of sense, thank you. However, I'm still not sure what to do now though: my question "How to adjust stewing time for different weights of various meat?" has not been answered. Would you recommend I (re-)ask that question in a generic way and just wait if it gets answered or closed as too broad? Or should I just keep asking specific instances of this question each time I encounter this situation until an expert "canonicalizes" one of the questions by giving a general answer?
    – Jeroen
    Commented Jan 8, 2015 at 10:01
  • 1
    @Jeroen maybe the answer you got is badly worded, but it is a general one. I was thinking of writing another one anyway, with more details, but haven't gotten around to it. It will say the same though: you shouldn't scale by weight for any meat, for any application.
    – rumtscho Mod
    Commented Jan 8, 2015 at 16:26

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