Let's talk ..... Cooking Meat



There are really only two ways to cook any piece of meat. Hot and fast, or low and slow. Anything in between is liable to end in toughness.

This principle applies whether you are stewing, roasting, steaming, grilling, barbecuing, boiling, frying, or indeed microwaving. Before you start, you need to decide whether you are going fast or slow.



1. Use High Heat to Develop Flavour

Browning creates flavour and is a key step when cooking meat. This happens through a process called the Maillard reaction. This reaction occurs when the amino acids and sugars in the food are subjected to heat, which causes them to combine. In turn, hundreds of different flavour compounds are created. When browning meat, you want a deep brown sear and a discernibly thick crust on all sides—best obtained by quick cooking over high heat.

To ensure that meat browns properly, make sure the meat is dry before it goes into the pan; pat it thoroughly with paper towels. This is important with previously frozen meat, which often releases a great deal of water. Second, make sure the pan is hot by preheating it over high heat until the fat added to the pan is shimmering or almost smoking. Finally, make sure not to overcrowd the pan; there should be at least 2 cm's of space between the pieces of meat. If there isn't, the meat is likely to steam instead of brown. If need be, cook the meat in more than one batch.


An experienced chef can tell when the meat is ready by pressing it and feeling the give in the meat – the firmer the meat, the more cooked it is. As a rough guide, press your index finger to the ball of your thumb on the same hand – that is what rare meat feels like. Press it with your little finger – that is what well-cooked meat feels like. The pressing technique takes time to learn and requires trial, error and lots of practice. Using a meat thermometer, with the probe inside the thickest part of the cut, can ensure that you get it right every time. We love ours especially for roasting on the BBQ.









2. Use Low Heat to Preserve Moisture 

For large cuts of meat or poultry, we recommend  a low-and-slow cooking method. We find that this approach allows the centre to come up to the desired internal temperature with less risk of overcooking the outer layers. It also helps minimise the loss of flavourful juices (and fat). We love to use our ShuttleChef for this method of cooking. It cooks slowly with the aid of only hot water. Meat cooked in this way after 4 - 6 hours falls off the bone.



3. Match the Cut to the Cooking Method

Tough cuts of meat, which generally come from the heavily exercised parts of the animal, such as the shoulder or rump, respond best to slow-cooking methods, such as pot roasting or stewing. The primary goal of slow cooking is to melt protein  in the connective tissue, thereby transforming a tough piece of meat into a tender one. These cuts are always served well done.


Tender cuts with little connective tissue generally come from parts of the animal that receive little exercise (like the loin, the area along the back of the cow or pig). These cuts respond best to quicker, dry-heat cooking methods, such as grilling or roasting. These cuts are cooked to a specific doneness. Prolonged cooking increases moisture loss and can turn these tender cuts tough.



4. Don't Forget about Carryover Cooking

Since the temperature of meat will continue to rise as it rests, an effect called carryover cooking, meat should be removed from the oven, grill, or pan when it's 5 to 10 degrees below the desired serving temperature. Carryover cooking doesn't apply to poultry and fish; they don't retain heat as well as the dense muscle structure in meat.

5. Rest Your Meat

The purpose of resting meat is to allow the juices, which are driven to the centre during cooking, to redistribute themselves throughout the meat. As a result, meat that has rested will shed much less juice than meat sliced straight after cooking. A thin steak or chop should rest for up to 5 minutes, a thicker roast for 5 to 10 minutes. And when cooking a large roast like a leg of Lamb the meat should rest for about 20 minutes before it is carved.


Internal temperatures for perfectly cooked meat

Beef

Very rare: 54C
Rare: 60C
Medium rare: 63C
Medium (still a little pink): 68C



Lamb

Rare: 60C
Medium: 63C








Chicken
Succulent: 74C

Duck
Succulent: 74C

Pork
Succulent: 66C






Fish
Cooked: 66C








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