Gourmet Cooking is a combination of a lot of talents.   The ability to piece together different dishes, with different spices, using different techniques takes many years to master (if mastering is even possible in the world of food).  The multitude of books, courses, shows, and online and offline recipe collections is enough to drive foodies haywire.   In this article we call our “cooking guide”, we intend to summarize the various methods of cooking meat (after all, we are The Healthy Butcher), and suggest how different methods of cooking should be used for different cuts of meat.  Matching cooking techniques – dry methods and moist methods - with the cuts of meat you intend to use is perhaps the most basic of premises upon which to develop a cooking knowledge – yet, it is far too often overlooked.

Dry heat methods, like roasting or broiling, are best with tender cuts like those from the loin and rib. Moist heat methods, like braising and stewing, are best used with less expensive, less tender cuts such as the chuck.  We encourage you to sign-up for our newsletter Live to Eat, where we frequently discuss various cooking techniques.  The following issues of Live to Eat are must-reads if your looking to understand cooking techniques:

Volume 2 - Breaking Down the Beef...

A Primer on the Cuts of Beef

 

Volume 3 - The Healthy Butcher's Guide to Grilling

 

Volume 7 - Braised Comfort

Organic meat tends to be a little leaner than non-organic meat.  You will also find the taste and texture quite different, dramatically so in some meats like chicken, which is firmer to carve and richer in flavour. As our meat is generally leaner and free of any chemicals or preservatives you'll also find the meat easier to digest and results in less bloating.

The following is a summary of cooking techniques for cuts specific to beef.  All 4-legged animals have the same basic composition, so the description of cooking techniques applies across the board, except that some cut names may not apply.

THE MIGHTY BEEF

Location

Common Cuts

Description

Entrée Suggestions

Chuck

Blade Steak or Roast

Cross Cut Steak or Roast

Flat Iron Steak

Mock Tender

 

Most of the chuck muscles require moist heat preparation. 

Decent results can be achieved by grilling/broiling blade steaks or flat irons at low temperatures for extended periods of time, although moist heat cooking methods are always preferered.

The Chuck is one of the main sources of ground beef.  Alternatives for chuck cuts can come from the Hip.

Because of the high fat content in the chuck, the flavour of all these cuts is outstanding.

Pot roast

Pot pies

Braised beef

Stews

Ground Beef for burgers, sausages, etc.

Braised Blade Steaks

Brisket, Plate and Flank

Beef Brisket

Skirt Steak

Flank Steak

Short Ribs

Most cuts from the brisket and plate need moist heat cooking. 

If using dry heat for Flank or Skirt Steaks, marinate, use proper cross-grain cutting and avoid overcooking for tender results. 

Beef flavour from these cuts is outstanding.

Skirt steak made into fajita strips

Brisket for corned beef

Flank Steak for stir fry recipes

Rib

Rib Eye Steak

Prime Rib Steak

Beef Back Ribs

The rib section provides roasts and steaks that are best cooked with dry heat methods. 

The rib section provides perhaps the best tenderness-to-flavour balance and yields unbelievable steaks and roasts.

Prime Rib Roast

Rib Eye Steaks

Roasted Ribs

Loin

Striploin steaks

Filet Mignon

T-Bone Steak

Porterhouse Steak

Cuts from the Short Loin are best cooked with dry heat methods. 

These cuts are the highest priced cuts in the beef.

New York Strip Steak

T-Bone Steak

Porterhouse Steak

Tenderloin Steak or Roast

Sirloin

Top Sirloin Steak or Roast

Innovative muscle cutting makes cuts from the Sirloin appropriate for many uses.  The Top Sirloin Butt is frequently used for portion cut steaks.  Use dry heat methods.

Great bang for your buck!

Kabobs

Top Sirloin Steaks

Stir Fry Strips

Hip

Inside Round Steak or Roast

Outside Round Steak or Roast

Eye of Round Steak or Roast

Sirloin Tip Steak or Roast

Low temperature roasting with dry heat works well with roasts from the hip. 

Although moist heat cooking will tenderize these cuts, you may end up with dry meat because of the low fat content in the Hip.

 

Sirloin Tip Steaks

Inside Round Roast for the classic Roast Beef

Peppercorn and Sirloin Tip steak medallions

Kabobs

 

  
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

DRY HEAT METHODS FOR TENDER CUTS

Roasting

Roasting is generally used for larger cuts, whereby, the meat is cooked uncovered, on a rack in a shallow pan.  For clarification, making a “roast” does not necessarily mean that the meat will be roasted.  Roasts such as pot roasts from tough cuts, require braising.  Roasts made from more tender meat are made by actually roasting.

It is definitely worth the effort to plan cooking time schedules so you can roast beef at a lower temperature.  The yield is greatly improved, and you’ll enjoy a moister, more delicious roast.

1. Heat oven to temperature specified in the Temperatures chart below.

Place beef, fat side up, on rack in shallow roasting pan. Season, if desired. Insert ovenproof meat thermometer so tip is centered in thickest part of the roast, not resting in fat or touching bone. Do not add water. Do not cover.

Roast to 5° to 10°F below desired degree of doneness. Allow roast to stand 15-20 minutes before serving. Temperature will continue to rise 5° to 10°F to reach desired doneness. In addition, the roast will be easier to carve.

 

  
 

 

 

 

 

 

    

Broiling

1. Set oven regulator for broiling; preheat for 10 minutes. During broiling, the oven door for electric ranges should be left slightly open;  the oven door for gas ranges should remain closed. (However, consult your owner’s manual for specific broiling guidelines.)

2. Place beef on rack in broiler pan. Use seasonings as desired.

After cooking, season as desired. 

 

Pan-Broiling

1. Heat heavy non-stick skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes.

2. Place beef in preheated skillet (do not overcrowd). Do not add oil or water, do not cover.

3. Pan-broil to desired doneness, turning once. Remove excess drippings from skillet as they accumulate. Season, if desired.

 

  
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

Grilling (the old fashioned way with charcoal)

1. Prepare charcoal for grilling. When coals are medium, ash-covered (approximately 30 minutes), spread in single layer and check cooking temperature. Position cooking grid.

(To check temperature, cautiously hold the palm of your hand above the coals at cooking height. Count the number of seconds you can hold your hand in that position before the heat forces you to pull it away; approximately 4 seconds for medium heat.)

2. Use seasonings as desired. Place on cooking grid directly over coals.

3. Grill according to chart, turning occasionally.  After cooking, season beef with salt and pepper, if desired.

(Because gas grill brands vary greatly, consult your owner’s manual for grilling guidelines.)

 

Pan-Frying/Stir-Frying

1. Place beef in small amount of heated oil. Do not cover.

2. Cook at medium to medium-high temperature. Brown on both sides for pan-frying; turn meat pieces over continuously for stir-frying.

3. Season, as desired.

 

  
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

MOIST HEAT METHODS FOR LESS TENDER CUTS

Braising

Also read Live to Eat Volume 7 - Braised Comfort for more detailed instructions.

1. Slowly brown beef on all sides in small amount of oil in heavy pan. Pour off excess drippings. Season, if desired.

2. Add a small amount (1/2 to 2 cups) of liquid.

3. Cover tightly and simmer gently over low heat on top of range or in a 325°F oven until beef is fork-tender.

 

Cooking in Liquid

1. Coat beef with seasoned flour, if desired. Slowly brown beef on all sides in small amount of oil in heavy pan. Pour off excess drippings.

2. Cover beef with liquid. Season, if desired. Bring liquid to boil; reduce heat to low.

3. Cover tightly and gently simmer on top of range or in a 325°F oven until beef is fork-tender.

 

Tenderizing

You may choose to tenderize less tender cuts of beef before cooking them.  They can then be cooked by a dry heat method. The two most common ways of tenderizing are marinating and pounding.

Marinating

Marinades are seasoned liquid mixtures that add flavor and in some cases tenderize. A tenderizing marinade must contain an acidic ingredient or a natural tenderizing enzyme. Acidic ingredients include vinegar, wine, and citrus or tomato juice. Naturally tenderizing enzymes are found in fresh papaya, ginger, pineapple and figs. The food acid or enzyme helps soften or break down the meat fibers and connective tissue and adds flavor.

Some marinades also contain a small amount of oil.  Marinades penetrate only about 1/4 inch into the surface of the meat, so they work best on thinner cuts. When marinating, containers must be covered. If the marinade has been in contact with uncooked meat, it must be brought to a rolling boil for one minute before adding it to cooked meat.

However, it is better to set aside a portion of the marinade mixture to use later as a sauce for basting. Be sure that it hasn’t come in contact with raw meat.

Pounding

Pounding with a heavy object such as a meat mallet tenderizes by breaking down the connective tissue.

 

Temperatures

The best way to judge doneness is to use a meat thermometer. Put the thermometer into the centre of roasts, into the breast (whole chicken) or thigh (whole turkey), or into the thickest part of cut-up poultry. Stuffing in poultry or cooked separately should reach 165° F (74° C) before serving. Rolled stuffed beef steaks and roasts should be cooked to medium (160° F/70°C).

To avoid overcooking a beef roast, remember to remove the  roast from the oven when the thermometer reads 5° to 10°F below the desired degree of doneness. As the roast sits before carving, its temperature will rise an additional 5° to 10° F. If you use an instant read thermometer, do not leave it in the roast during cooking. Follow manufacturer instructions.

Some tips:

  • Stuff poultry just before cooking.

  • Steaks and roasts may be cooked from frozen. Simply add 50% to the cooking time (i.e. an additional 10-15 minutes/lb. or 25-30 minutes/kg), and cook at lower temperatures.

MEAT/POULTRY

 

DONENESS/

TEMPERATURE

Beef Roasts/Steaks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rare

140° F (60° C)

Medium

160° F (70° C)

Well

170° F (77° C)

Ground Beef

 

155° F (68° C)

Ground Chicken/Turkey

175° F (80° C)

Whole Chicken

180° F (82° C) (juices run clear when skin is pierced with a fork)

Chicken Pieces

165° F (74° C)

Whole Turkey

stuffed

180° F (82° C)

unstuffed

170° F (77° C)

Turkey Pieces

 

 

 

 

 

170° F (77° C)

Pork, Lamb or Beal

160° F (70° C)

Food Mixtures (containing poultry, eggs, meat, fish or other potentially hazardous foods)

165° F (74° C)

Eggs

145° F (63° C)

Fish

160° F (70° C)

 

  
     


©2004 Ambrosia Gourmet Inc., Toronto.