October 20, 2009

Beef 101 - Cooking

Thought I'd share some interesting facts about Australian beef that I came across one evening, curious about the different cuts available, marbling and labels such as "grain-fed," "grass fed," "Black Angus" and "David Blackmore." I'll be spreading it out over a few blogs, hope you enjoy and learn something new :) Mooooooo

Since a cow's legs and neck muscles do the most work, they are the toughest. Therefore, the meat becomes more tender as distance from hoof and horn increases.

In order from toughest to most tender:

SHANK & BRISKET - Shank Cross Cut, Brisket Flat Cut, Corned Beef.
Excellent for stewing, braising and pot- roasting.

CHUCK - Chuck Pot Roast, Chuck Short Ribs, Chuck Blade Steak, Chuck Mock Tender, Ground Beef.
The meat is basically a muscle and heavily exercised. Cuts from this area benefit from slow, wet cooking methods like stewing, braising or pot-roasting.

PLATE & FLANK - Flank Steak, Skirt Steak, Steak Rolls, Ground Beef.
This meat is lean, muscular and very flavourful. Steak should be sliced thin against the grain for maximum chewability. May be broiled or used to for kabobs.

ROUND - Tip Steak, Rump Roast, Round Steak/Roast.
This cut consists of lean meat, best used for long, moist cooking methods like braising or pot-roasting.

RIB - Rib Eye Steak/Roast, Back Rib.
May be roasted, sauteed, pan-fried, broiled or grilled.

SIRLOIN - Sirloin Steak, Sirloin Tip Roast.
It is less tender than short loin but more flavoursome. May be sauteed, pan-fried, broiled, pan-broiled or grilled.

SHORT LOIN - T-bone Steak (cut from middle), Porterhouse Steak (cut from rear end), Tenderloin Steak/Roast, Top Loin Steak.
May be sauteed, pan-fried, broiled, pan-broiled or grilled.

TENDERLOIN - "filet mignon" is the smaller tail end of the tenderloin. It can be removed separately or left in for T-bone and Porterhouse Steaks and is usually grilled or pan-fried.

Other parts that are eaten include the oxtail, tongue, heart, brain, liver, kidneys, testicles, tripe (made from the first three chambers of the cow's stomach), intestines (usually as natural sausage casings) and bones to make beef stock.


Here are some tips for cooking and preparing beef:

- The best way to defrost beef is to leave it in the fridge overnight.

- For microwave defrosting, always use the defrost settings so that the heat melts the ice crystals without cooking the meat, and try to arrange the thickest portions towords the outside of the dish.

- To speed up the marinating time by almost half, massage in the marinade for a few minutes, place the meat in a plastic bag, seal and place in coldest part of refrigerator for around 30 minutes.

- Don't salt meat before cooking, because salt draws out the juices, making the it tough.

- Don't turn meat too often or use too low a heat as meat will stew and toughen without sealing in juices.

- Test meat by pressing with blunt tongs; don't cut with a knife as juices will escape causing dryness.

- For the perfect steak, remove meat from the fridge about an hour before cooking to allow the steak to get to room temperature, ensure the grill is hot before placing down your steak to seal in its juices then turn the heat down a little for one side of the meat to cook it without burning, ALWAYS allow the steak to relax after cooking - place on a plate in a warm place (or cover with foil) for a quarter of the cooking time. The high heat tightens the protein in the steak, so resting allows the juices to return to the centre of the meat as it sits.

- Cooking time for steak varies, depending on its thickness. If you don't have a meat thermometer, to test the internal temperature, use the back of your tongs to feel the steak: Rare (45°-50°) is very soft, Medium Rare (55°-60°) is soft, Medium (60°-65°) is springy, Well Done (70° and above) is very firm. You can also look at the side of the steak to see how much it has cooked before flipping.

- For roasts, always carve AGAINST the grain to shorten the length of the meat fiber, making it more tender to eat

- For a quick and tasty marinade, mix olive oil with seasoning and some chopped herbs of your choice (basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano etc) and massage it into the steak before cooking :)

Porterhouse Steak (marinated in parsley, olive oil, sea salt and cracked black pepper)

For more info:

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