Beef 101

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.

 

COMMON F*CKUPS


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.

 

Kiano Moju

Founder

Founder of Culinary Inspo. Kiano is a California raised foodie with a big travel bug and even bigger appetite to explore the world's food and cultures.

2 Comments
  1. I’m often asked to teach cooking lessons to various groups. My favorite lesson to give is a Beef 101. Beef is so easy to work with once you know what you are doing. No need to be intimidated by it! The grade of beef you purchase really affects the outcome. My favorite local mom and pop grocery store specializes in meat and they don’t even sell select. Choice or prime is all we eat!

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