Preparing Meat

How to Cook
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 cooking.

Searing Meat
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:
  • broiling
  • pan-broiling
  • roasting

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 (Baking)

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 follows:

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 as before.

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.

How To Cook
A Free Download of How to Cook, based on a Old time Ways.


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