|The Structure and Composition of Meat
The connective tissue of meat is the material which holds the muscle
fiber in place. One can get an idea of the structure of muscle fiber
from some cuts of meat such as the rump. This meat when cooked can
be torn into strands. On closer examination, however, one finds that
these strands are made up of tiny tubes, microscopic in size, which
are also held together by a network of connective tissue. The
microscopic tubes hold the muscle juice, which consists of water,
protein, ash, coloring and flavoring materials. The latter give to
meat its characteristic taste; they are called extractives. In the
network of connective tissue, there is fat.
The muscle juice found in muscle fiber not only contains protein,
but the walls of muscle fiber and connective tissue contain protein.
These proteins differ greatly in quality, however. They will be
discussed in the following lesson.
Care Of Meat
As soon as meat comes from the market remove the paper in which it
is wrapped, and put the meat away in a cool place. Before cooking,
wipe the meat with a damp cloth. Do not allow it to stand in cold
water. If meat is to be roasted, it should be weighed before
Since the juice of meat contains both nutriment and flavor, it is
desirable to retain the juice when meat is cooked. This can be
accomplished by subjecting meat to intense heat. By so doing, the
protein coagulates and "seals" the outside of the meat so that its
juices are prevented from escaping. This process is called searing.
Tender Cuts of Beef
Certain muscles of an animal used for food contain more connective
tissue than others. Such muscles are considered tough cuts of meat.
Other muscles contain either less connective tissue or the
connective tissue is less tough. These are considered tender cuts.
Muscles which are the least used by the animal are most tender.
Certain methods of cooking meat are adapted to cooking the tender
cuts. Unless meat is chopped, only tender cuts of meat can be cooked
successfully by dry heat. The following methods are used for tender
cuts of meat:
The best steaks of beef for broiling or pan-broiling are club,
porterhouse, sirloin and first cuts of round. The best cuts for
roasting are porterhouse, prime ribs, and sirloin.
Long shoulder or chuck, top round, and rump are inferior roasts.
Select one of the tender steaks for broiling. Tender steaks should
be cut from 1 to 2 inches in thickness. Clean it as directed
previously, remove the excess fat, and place the meat on a broiler.
Broil over glowing coals or in the broiling oven, holding the
broiler very close to the coals, or placing it near the gas flame.
The meat should be thoroughly _seared_ on both sides. Finish cooking
the meat by holding it farther away from the coals or the gas flame
and turning it about every 10 seconds. Steak 1 inch thick should be
cooked at least 5 minutes; 2 inches thick, at least 10 minutes.
Season, place on a hot platter, and serve at once.
Clean the meat, remove excess fat, and place the meat in a very hot
frying pan without any fat. Sear the meat on both sides, then cook
more slowly until done. When thick chops are broiled, stand them on
end to brown the edges. Keep the pan free from fat. The time for
pan-broiling is the same as for broiling.
Difference Between Pan-Broiling and Sautéing
Pan-broiled steak differs from sautéed steak (commonly termed fried
steak) in: ease of digestion and flavor. As explained previously
Frying and Digestion, fat cooked at high temperature is not easily
digested. For this reason, as far as digestion is concerned, it is
better to omit the fat, and to broil a steak.
Meat has a distinct and characteristic flavor. Browned fat also has
a pronounced flavor. In broiled steak, the pure meat flavor exists;
In "fried" steak there is meat flavor plus browned fat flavor. Since
the flavor of meat is most pleasing, it is not advisable to modify
it by the addition of any other flavor.
Roasting was accomplished formerly by placing thick pieces of meat
before an open fire. "Roasts" are now placed in the oven and baked.
The term roasting, however, is still used. Meat is roasted as
Weigh the meat and clean it. Then skewer it into shape and place it
on a rack in a roasting pan. If the meat has but little fat, place
extra fat in the bottom of the pan. Place the pan on the upper shelf
of a hot oven (500 degrees F.) and sear for 20 minutes. Reduce the
temperature to 400 degrees F. Season the exposed surface with salt
and pepper, dredge with flour, and remove the pan to the floor or
lower shelf of the oven. Baste often. When the meat is about half
done, turn it over, season, dredge with flour, and continue baking
Since less evaporation takes place in a large roast than in a small
one, the larger roasts are more juicy, hence more desirable. A good
roast of beef should weigh at least 4 pounds.
The time for roasting varies with the weight of the meat. Usually,
for beef roasts, 15 minutes to each pound is allowed.