It is pretty obvious that meat is one of the most common ingredients in the world today. It comes in multiple varieties, so it is impossible to get sick of.
Of course, there are other reasons why you should love meat. After all, it is a good source of core vitamins and nutrients. For example, body builders could benefit from eating meat-based meals because they are rich in protein. Meat is also an excellent source of zinc, iron, and other essential nourishments.
But before you can enjoy these benefits, it is essential that you know how to cook meat. Well, there are various ways to prepare this ingredient. It is not only frying and grilling that can make meat delectable to the mouth.
Depending on your preferences and needs, you can cook meat using various specialized techniques. And here, in GimmeTasty.com, I will teach you them all!
How To Choose Fresh Meat
Choosing the right type of meat will certainly make a difference. A good meat will always enhance the overall flavor of your recipe. Moreover, it will keep you away from any foodborne diseases, as high-quality meat is fresh and free from contaminants. But, of course, this is just the preface.
There are various benefits that you can get from having the right knowledge about meat selection. Overall, it gives you an advantage as you will have assurance that the meat you chose is applicable for your intended recipe.
Various parameters are involved in choosing meat. Of course, these standards will always focus on the freshness of the ingredient. After all, you cannot just assume that any meat is good as long as it is edible and usable. Things just don't work that way.
I have listed several methods that will guide you in the proper selection of meat. These things might appear simple, but they will prove useful and extra beneficial when you shop for your next stock of meat.
Yes. It is quite surprising, but the way meat is butchered is an indicator of its quality and freshness. Always observe how the meat was cut and fabricated as it is a reflection of the purveyor's skills and practical sincerity. When the cut is smooth and flawless, it means that the purveyor wants to preserve the meat's freshness.
Purveyors face a big loss when their meat goes bad and they also try not to make mistakes, like slicing the wrong proportions. If a slice of meat has a uniform cut, shape, and thickness, it indicates this was done for economical reasons (both in terms of production and retail) and is fresh.
The color of the meat is an excellent indicator of its quality. Specifically, fresh beef and pork meat are a red color. The redder that meat is, the fresher it is. But, of course, you still have to be careful with meat that's been applied with carbon monoxide. This particular compound is an artificial color preservative. If you think that the color of the meat is quite suspicious, you should ask the retailer about it.
If you see meat of a red to brownish color, it doesn't mean it is not fresh anymore. Sometimes, this particular color change is caused by the exposure of the meat to oxygen for around 30 minutes or more. It could also indicate that the meat has been stored in the freezer.
When it comes to chicken and other poultry products, the "fresh" color should be bluish white or yellow. This unique color barometer is due to the breeding, diet, and age of the poultry.
Typically, fresh meat is firm. However, you should know that some cuts tend to be soft, especially if you touch them. For example, fatty cuts of beef like ribeye don't have too many connective tissues. Therefore, they don't spring back immediately when you press them. This is pretty normal.
However, if you press the meat and it doesn't return to normal, then its protein level has been depleted already. In short, it is not fresh anymore. Of course, this particular test applies to beef, poultry, and pork as well.
Most of the time, fresh meat that comes from non-game livestock doesn't emit any noticeable smell. If the meat has been packaged already, you will notice a musty odor. This happens when the meat moisture inside the package has oxidized. Of course, you should not mistake this for the smell of ammonia, which is a sign that the meat's protein has degraded, which means it is totally rotten.
Different Meat Cuts
If you want to become a meat expert, you must know the different cuts of the major meats. This is essential, as each of these parts is usable for specific types of recipes. Of course, it will save you a lot of time if you know what part of the meat you are going to get.
Beef Chuck - The chuck is a composition of the neck, upper arm, and shoulder blade parts of the meat. Because of this, it is natural that beef chuck is tough. But it also has an excellent taste. Specifically, this meat cut is great for making braised cuisines, like pot roast and stew. It is also an excellent choice for making ground beef.
Beef Rib - The beef rib is made from the upper portion of the middle part of the rib. Some people call it prime rib as well. It is a great choice for ribeye steaks and other roast recipes. It is particularly tender and suitable for various types of dry-heat cooking methods.
Beef Plate - A beef plate is primarily made out of skirt steak and some part short ribs. The skirt steak is a form of diaphragm muscle, meaning that it is connected to the inner portions of the abdominal wall. Despite being thin, it is also quite flavorful. Therefore, you can easily prepare it at high-heat settings. Make sure that you slice it against the grain, too.
Beef Brisket - Many consider that beef brisket is the tastiest part of the meat. Well, it is hard to argue about that. But certainly, there is a need for you to cook this part properly, as it is notably tough. It also contains some fatty portions. Therefore, subject it to high-heat for a long time. Beef brisket is one of the key ingredients for pot roasting.
Beef Shank - The shank is the leg portion of the beef. It has a lot of connective tissues, so it is naturally tough as well. Beef comes with two shanks (the forequarter and the hindquarter). Many exquisite Italian dishes, like the Osso Buco, use beef shanks as the main ingredient.
Beef Short Loin - Most of the notable cuts of the meat (such as porterhouse steaks, strip loin, and T-bone) are derived from the short loin. The most tender part of the beef, the tenderloin, is in the middle of the short loin and sirloin.
Beef Sirloin and Tenderloin - The sirloin is also a tender part of the meat. But it gets a little tough in the parts that are located on the rear leg. Specifically, the sirloin has two parts: the top and the bottom sirloin. The top sirloin is an excellent source of grilling steaks. The bottom sirloin provides roasts for barbecue and roasting recipes.
The tenderloin is extremely tender (hence, its name). As I mentioned earlier, it is located on the loin. The term "filet mignon" is derived from the tip of the tenderloin. Meanwhile, the ever-sumptuous Chateaubriand comes from the middle part of this meat cut.
Beef Flank - The beef flank is great for grilling purposes. However, since it has a tough composition, eating it is hard, especially if you overcook it. Therefore, the best way to grill this meat cut is to subject it to an extremely high temperature in a very short period of time. You could also marinate it so that it won't dry out easily.
Beef Round - This is any part of the beef that is located on its back leg. The muscles are tough and lean as the rump and the leg are always being exercised and moved by the animal. Three primal cuts can be done for beef round: the top, bottom, and the knuckle.
Pork Belly - It is untrue that pork belly comes from the stomach. Instead, this cut is actually the flesh that is found on the bottom side of the animal. This extended cut that has a lot of fat. Therefore, it is an excellent choice for curing. Pancetta and bacon are also derived from this meat cut.
Pork Chop (Loin) - Usually, there are many cuts that you can consider to be "pork chops". All of them are excellent for grilling, broiling, and pan-frying. Always remember that the thicker part of the pork chop (the one that is attached to the bone) is the tastiest and juiciest.
Pork Chop (Shoulder) - Also known as pork blade chops, pork shoulder chops are both tough and fatty. You can still grill and broil them, especially if you have a pre-made marinade applied to them. They can also be cooked by using moist-heat cooking methods, such as braising.
Pork Cutlets - You can make various boneless cuts from pork meat. Usually, they are called cutlets. They are typically lean, and so comparable to sirloin chops. However, cutlets are much meatier. Despite this, this meat cut is thin and tender and ideal for grilling, baking, and pan-frying.
Ham - The ham is a meat cut taken from the top portion of the animal leg. Many retailers sell it fresh. But sometimes, you can see hams that have been cured or smoked.
Pork Loin - The cuts that came from the pork loin are lean and tender. In fact, they are the most tender part of the pork. Specifically, the pork loin is divided into three parts. The first part is the fatty Blade End, which is located close to the shoulder. The second is the Sirloin End, which is bony because it is near the rump. Meanwhile, the Center Part is the leanest and most tender part of the pork loin. However, it is also the most expensive.
Pork Back Ribs - They are typically called baby back ribs. Compared to spare ribs, they are meatier, but you cannot compare the level of their meat to country ribs.
Pork Ribs (Country) - Country ribs are the fattiest and meatiest part of pork ribs. They can either come boneless or bone-in. It depends on the purveyor.
Pork Spare Ribs - This is the part of pork ribs that have the least amount of fat. But they are quite popular because of their tender and chewable texture. You can only achieve such perfection if you prepare this meat cut by using slow cooking.
Pork Shanks - In the market, pork shanks are typically smoked. They are the shins of the pig and prove great ingredients for making soups and bean-related recipes.
Pork Butt and Shoulder - Both the pork shoulder and pork butt cuts are from the shoulder of the pig. Of course, they are different cuts. The butt (or the Boston Shoulder) is from the thick part of the shoulder. It is great for barbecue recipes and pulled pork styles.
Pork Tenderloin - The pork tenderloin (or pork fillet, as most people call them) is a popular cut of pork. It is also relatively expensive, and comparable in price to pork loin chops. This meat cut is usually tender, lean, and definitely boneless. They are easy to prepare because they are usable in any cooking method, such as grilling, broiling, and roasting.
WOG - The WOG is the entire chicken itself. It should include the major cuts, like the breasts, drumsticks, thighs, and wings. However, it does not include the giblets (e.g. gizzard, liver, and heart).
Chicken Tenders - This meat cut is taken from the bottom part of the chicken breast. They are very tasty and flavorful when you fry them. Since they are relatively small compared to the breast, chicken tenders are an excellent choice for fingerstyle recipes, such as chicken goujons.
Chicken Thigh - The thigh is located on the top of the knee joint of the chicken. There are various options for it, including boneless and skinless thighs. Many culinarians today consider the thigh as the tastiest portion of the animal. They are also inexpensive, which makes them great for those who are on a tight budget!
Drumstick - The drumstick is actually the cut between the hock and the knee joint of the chicken. However, the thighs are not included in the cut! It is an ideal choice for barbecuing and baking recipes.
Chicken Wings - Undeniably, chicken wings are currently the most famous part of the chicken. The skin of the wings is inexplicably delicious, especially if you fry it. Meanwhile, the bones are extremely flavorful, too!
Chicken Breast - Chicken breast is an excellent source of protein and other types of essential fat. It is also very flexible as it suits various cooking methods.
Storing meat is not as simple as it seems. That's why I have referred to the guidelines set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for meat storage. If you want to preserve the quality and safety of your meat, it is better to follow this outline:
Reheating The Meat
Of course, it is quite convenient and practical if we can reheat the leftovers of our food. Nobody wants to waste precious food, especially if it is meat. Here are some few tips that I can give you to make sure that you reheat your food properly and safely.
When reheating, there is one unwritten rule that everyone needs to follow: always reheat the food on the device that you used to cook it. Of course, it is quite logical. You will need to reheat a roast meat in the oven because it will provide the same amount of heat during the cooking process.
Here are some additional resources to help you out:
Different Ways To Cook Meat
You are poaching when you cook any ingredients under the temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. It is commonly used for preparing eggs and fish. However, some meat recipes require this technique as well.
With this level of temperature, the liquid won't reach boiling point. But you can definitely see small bubbles rising from the bottom of your cooking device. Because of this, it is quite difficult to measure the correct temperature if you don't have a food thermometer.
Simmering food will require you to heat the liquid to around 180 degrees Fahrenheit to 205 degrees Fahrenheit, which is way hotter than when you are poaching. At this temperature, you can expect that bubbles will come out and rise to the top of the liquid. But, of course, this is still not boiling point.
This cooking method allows you to cook food in an even manner. This is because you are subjecting the food (e.g. meat) to a constant temperature level. It is a great option, especially for food recipes, like soup, pasta, and other related ingredients.
However, you should note that simmering causes the food to lose its nutritional contents because you are actually percolating it into the liquid.
Most of us are familiar with boiling. In this method, the water reaches its maximum heating point, which is 212 degrees Fahrenheit. It is great for softening hard cuts of meat, as the extreme heat can easily tenderize the tissue of the meat.
But on the flip side, I do not really recommend using this cooking method on very smooth ingredients. For example, eggs that have been stripped of their shell will be damaged if you subject them to boiling water. They will be cooked, but their entire appearance will never look good.
The steaming process usually employs hot steam to cook the food. When the water exceeds the temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit, it gradually evaporates and becomes liquid. There are great advantages that steaming provides, especially if you compare it to cooking methods like simmering and boiling.
For example, it doesn't disrupt and damage the food at all. Moreover, there is no need for you to immerse the ingredients in liquid. As a result, the food will not lose its nutrients. It is also notable that steaming yields fast results. Take note that some meat recipes can be done through steaming.
Braising is a method commonly used for beef and pork delicacies. Specifically, this cooking method involves the food being slightly submerged into liquid. After that, it is simmered gradually at a low-temperature setting.
Although it is doable on the stovetop, I still recommend that you braise your food in your oven. In this way, you will evenly cook the entire food. If you cook it via your pot, the heating will only be focused on the bottom part of the meat.
Stewing is a cooking method that is usually used for soup-related recipes. For this technique, you put the meat and other ingredients inside a large pot and cook them at a low temperature. Usually, the cooking is quite time-consuming, but it is still necessary.
7. Barbecuing and Grilling
Well, nobody can hate barbecues. After all, it is the epitome of cooking meat. By barbecuing meat, you will unleash its true flavor. It is fun too, especially if you are with your friends or family!
Grilling is a similar process to barbecuing, but the tools used for these two cooking methods are different. The processes you follow are the same. So you need to place the meat on a hot surface (the heat is usually generated by coal and wood).
Before you can sauté any recipe, you will need a hot pan first. Specifically, the pan should be heated for a least a minute. After that, pour small portions of fat into the pan. Allow this to get hot before you add the other ingredients.
The meaning of the word sauté is "jump". It is a French word, but it is not jargon anymore, even to the non-European culinary world. Apart from maintaining the heat of the pan, you are also required to toss or flip the food. In this way, you can ensure that the food will be evenly cooked. There are a lot of meat delicacies prepared through this method.
9. Pan Frying
Pan frying is similar to sautéing. However, pan-frying can be done with a low temperature setting. Moreover, you are required to the use large amounts of fat wherever you do this cooking method. Because of this, pan-frying is an excellent method for cooking huge chunks of meat.
10. Roasting and Baking
Most of the time, people think that roasting and baking are the same, as both of these cooking methods require you to cover the food item with hot and dry air. Typically, this is done through the oven at temperatures of more than 300 degrees Fahrenheit. They can generate even cooking results, as every part of the food is exposed to the same of level of heat.
Despite this, roasting and baking still have their own respective nuances. The term "roast" is used when the ingredients are meat, vegetables, and poultry. Meanwhile, you use the term "bake" if you are dealing with fish and other types of seafood. Moreover, roasting is faster than baking, considering that you need to crank up the oven to hot temperatures for this cooking process.
Broiling uses heat conduction to cook food. But because the heat conduction is not that great if the medium is air, you need to place the food near to the heat source. Of course, the heating element should be a flame. Therefore, it is an ideal choice if you are cooking tender meat, fish, and poultry.
Because you are going to subject the meat to extreme temperatures, you certainly need to marinate the meat first to protect its flesh from excessive burning.
12. Deep Frying
It is quite baffling why deep frying is considered to be a dry-heat cooking method. After all, it requires you to submerge the meat into a heated liquid fat for the frying process. But take note that oil and water react together. Try dropping hot oil on a watery surface and you will see the explosive reaction that takes place.
Because of this, you need to make sure that the meat is dry before you fry it. You might need to wipe the surface of the meat with a clean paper towel. Usually, deep frying requires you to heat up the oil to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not exceed this temperature or the oil will start to smoke.
Smoking is another cooking method that preserves and flavors the meat through its exposure to smoke. Specifically, this smoke can come from various heating elements, such as wood. But there are also devices like gas smokers that make the process a lot easier. People mainly smoke meat and fish, but some people also smoke vegetables and cheese for whiskey making.
Check these resources for smoking: