An introductory overview of a few key point to optimize your cooking skill & food safety practices.
AKA how to save some $$ on steak & avoid giving yourself food poisoning.
WHICH STEAKS BREAK THE BANK & WHICH SAVE ME SOME COIN?
- ‘Middle’ cuts cost more: ‘Rib’ & ‘Loin’ Cuts (ex. rib-eye, filet mignon & t-bone).
- ‘Round’ cuts are the least expensive & leanest.
- Round cuts can be tough if not prepared properly (ex. a round roast should be prepared in a slow cooking method not quickly pan fried).
WHAT DO THE GRADES MEAN?
- Grades aren’t mandatory.
- 3 grade system: (Highest-> Lowest) Prime, Choice, Select.
- Based off marbling of fat. More marbling = more flavor, tenderness & juiciness.
HOW DO I PROPERLY STORE RAW MEAT?
- Get your meat in the fridge/freezer as soon as you can after buying. It’s helpful to have a cooler grocery bag for your cold & frozen groceries.
- Do you usually only cook for yourself? Rather than freezing the entire package, divide/cut meat into single serving portions & store in freezer bags.
- You can store meat in the store’s package in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
- When it comes to fridge storage, always keep packages over a plate or tray to ensure any juices don’t drip onto everything else.
Did You Know: Ground beef stores for the shortest amount of time, where a whole steak will store the longest. The more cut a steak is, the it quicker it goes bad.
WHAT ABOUT STORING COOKED MEAT?
- After 2 hours of being out, store your cooked meat in the fridge.
- All leftover cooked beef will last in the fridge from 3-4 days, so those burgers from last Sunday’s BBQ probably aren’t okay to eat Friday before extended happy hour.
ONCE IT’S FROZEN, HOW DO I DEFROST IT?
- When it comes to defrosting most of us do it wrong. Meat should defrost in the fridge not on the counter/sink at room temperature.
- It usually takes about 12 hours, so if you pop it in the fridge on a plate the night before you’ll be fine.
How Do I Properly Slice Beef?
- Before Cooking: The colder beef is, the easier it is to cut.
- After Cooking: Always cut against the grain (muscle fibers) to shorten them. This makes meat less chewy.
Here are a few cooking mistakes to avoid while cooking your beef:
- Are your meatballs, burgers, meatloaf a bit dense? You may be over mixing them before cooking. Mix just until everything is combined, you don’t need to ‘work’ in the flavor. Tip: The same rule applies to mixing cakes.
- Stir fry beef not coming out as thin as it does when you order takeout? If you place your steak in the freezer for around a half hour, you’ll be able to create thinner slices. Don’t forget to cut against the gain so the pieces are the most tender.
- Can’t get your beef nice & brown on the edges? Make sure your steaks are void of moisture before pan frying. Pat dry with a paper towel & also use the right sized pan. A pan too small is hard to brown in & a pan too large can easily overcook your meat.
- Is your steak not that juicy, but you didn’t overcook it? Try salting your grilled/pan-fried/broiled steak right when it’s done cooking. Salt pushes moisture out of food, so if your not cooking your beef in a liquid, save that sprinkle of salt for after it’s all browned and ready.
That concludes Beef 101. If you want more info, the good folks from the Beef Checkoff have a great resource on their website as well.
Source: The Beef Checkoff. Confident Cooking With Beef. N.p.: Beef Checkoff, 2013. Print.