Tips On Cooking Meat

Mar 16, 2018 | Cooking Tips


We all love meat. Well, except for vegans. vegetarians, and people who don’t like meat…Some of us love meat. A good steak can make an okay day great, and I’m pretty sure that a perfectly cooked pork chop can solve all of life’s problems. But, what if I told you that you have been cooking meat wrong this entire time? Well, obviously I don’t know if you are or not, but what I do know is that I have put together a few things that I think will drastically improve the quality of your cooked meat. If you think you can cook meat better than you do now, keep reading. Otherwise, have a great day!

Dry Your Meat

The first thing you need to think about when cooking meat is surface moisture. I bet you didn’t see that coming. If the surface of your meat is wet, it won’t properly caramelize and you won’t get that nice brown surface colour. Instead you will be left with a grey, kind of gross looking piece of meat. Let your meat sit in the fridge on a cooling rack for a day or two uncovered. I know this seems counterintuitive but allowing the surface to fully dry prior to cooking will completely change the flavour, texture, and appearance of your meat. This works well for skin on chicken, or duck or anything like that as well. A dry surface is key.

Warm It Up

Think about cooking a steak. If you were to take it out of the fridge, and put it right in the pan and start cooking it, by the time the center was at the temperature you wanted, the outside would be over cooked. If instead you allow that same steak to sit out at room temperature for an hour you won’t have this issue. I know that a lot of you just immediately imagined yourself getting food poisoning, but you don’t really have to worry about it. An hour is kind of the safe point. Plus, any bacteria that has formed on the surface of your steak will be destroyed by the high heat of cooking. Doing this, allowing your steak to come to room temperature before cooking it, will allow for a more even and consistent cook. This can be done with roasts as well.

Carry Over Cooking

Things are very rarely immediate in cooking. For example, things don’t immediately stop cooking just because you take them out of the oven or out of the pan. Imagine a “magic bag”, you know, that bag of beans that you microwave and then put on your sore neck, knee, or nether region…I like alliteration. When the magic bag comes out of the oven it remains hot for a long time. It has stored the heat in it’s cells and releases it gradually. This happens with food too.

Imagine a steak if you will, let’s say a New York Strip Loin. Let’s say you cooked the steak in the pan to a perfect medium rare. The steak does not immediately turn cold once you take it out of the pan, and that residual heat will actually continue to cook that steak a little. This is called carry over cooking.

Now, in all honesty, carry over cooking really isn’t that big a deal for small pieces of meat like a strip loin. The temperature will only raise by 1 or 2°. However, when you start cooking roasts, or larger pieces of meat the carry over cooking effect can seriously change the quality of your meal. A four or five pound piece of meat cooked on 350°F will continue to cook by 5-10° after it is removed from the oven. This means that if you cooked a piece of beef to a perfect 140° which is medium rare, by the time it rests and you eat it, it will be closer to medium. Now, keep in mind that if you cook that same piece of meat to rare it will only raise by 2-3° because it isn’t going to have the same amount of residual heat. The opposite is true as well. If you cook that same piece of meat to a perfect medium well, there will be more residual heat than the rare roast and this will carry it over to well done, or over done.

The bigger the piece of meat, and the longer you cook it, the more it will carry over cook. I always imagine this process as a train speeding down the track. It’s going really fast but then slams on the breaks. The brakes squeal and it eventually comes to a stop but it took it a long distance to stop fully. The bigger the train the longer it takes it to stop.

Molecule Dance Party

Heat is essentially a bunch of excited molecules getting crazy at a dance party. I am not a physicist, but the seems right to me. What I mean is that when you heat something the molecules within it go crazy and start to move very fast. If you don’t allow time for the molecules to slow down and rest, it can have serious consequences on the quality of your meat. I am pretty much positive that everyone has cut into a piece of meat and witnessed a flood of juices escaping onto the cutting board or plate. This happens when we don’t let meat rest. Allowing meat to rest, allows time for meat juices to calm down and reabsorb into the muscle fibers. This way when you cut your meat, the majority of the juices stay in the meat, and you have juicey flavourful meat with every bite.

You have probably witnessed the dreaded bloody potato when someone has cut into a rare steak too early and the juices stained their potatoes red. If that same steak was given time to properly rest, this would not be an issue at all. So, how long should something rest? About 1/4 – 1/2 of its total cooking time.  Generally, you can tell if a piece of meat has rested long enough by giving it a little poke with your finger. If a bunch of juice comes out, let it rest a bit more.

I know that this can seem like a lot to think about, but really it’s like 2-5 seconds of thought when actually cooking and it can completely change your finished meal. It’s these little things, the nuance that separates what chef’s do from what home cooks do. Even if you think I am totally full of shit, try it once. Just once and I guarantee that you will notice a drastic difference in the quality of your meat.

 

 

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