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Cooking Methods


In order to cook beef properly, the appropriate cooking method should be selected for each type of beef cut. For example, if you are grilling, a tough beef cut from the leg or shoulder should not be used, unless the intention is to tenderise the meat before cooking it. Even if the meat is tenderised, it will still not be as tender as a cut from the loin or rib, which does not require tenderising. On the other hand, if you plan on braising, there is no point in using a tender (and expensive) cut such as the tenderloin.


Cooking methods are classified as either dry heat methods or moist heat methods:

 

  • Dry heat cooking methods: Tender cuts of beef from the loin and rib are best suited for dry heat cooking methods, such as grilling, broiling, roasting, and sautéing.

  • Moist heat cooking methods: Tougher cuts of beef from the leg, brisket, flank, plate, shank, and chuck are best suited for moist heat cooking methods, such as braising, pot-roasting, and stewing.
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    Grill

    The grilling process cooks foods over a high heat source, either directly, indirectly, or a combination of both. Grilling temperatures typically reach as high as 340ºC, but any temperature above 145°C is suitable as a grilling temperature. Meat is seasoned or marinated before placing it on the hot grill usually at 220ºC to 250ºC. The high heat of grilling sears the surface of beef, creating tender meat with a flavourful crust. Once you get the nice char grill marks and flavourful crust, reduce the heat or move the meat away from direct heat and grill to desired doneness. Keep in mind that the meat will cook for a little longer after removing from the grill. Keep the meat warm for at least 5 minutes before cutting. Use a tong to handle the meat, not a fork. The required cooking temperature and the method of grilling (direct, indirect, or a combination) depends on the cut of beef, the thickness and the quality of the meat. As with any cooking method, beef that is grilled should not be overcooked in order to produce the best results.

    Suitable cuts: Tenderloin (chateaubriand, fillet steak, tournedos, fillet mignon), sirloin
    steak, ribeye steak, rump steak, minute steak, porterhouse steak, t-bone steak, prime
    rib steak, flank steak, skirt steak, hangar steak etc.


    Barbeque

    People often use the terms barbecuing and grilling interchangeably, but they are two completely different cooking processes. While grilling refers to food that is cooked directly over high heat, barbecuing refers to foods that are cooked with a long, slow process using indirect, low-heat generated by smoldering logs or wood chips that smoke-cook the food, giving the meat a characteristic smoke flavor.

    The fuel and heat source are separate from the cooking chamber, but the cooking chamber contains enough heat to properly cook the food over a long period of time. The cooking chamber fills with smoke, giving the food its characteristic smoked flavor, which varies depending on the type of wood that is used for the fuel. The best temperature for barbecuing is between 90°C and 145°C. If the temperature rises above 145°C, it is considered a temperature suitable for grilling.

    Suitable cuts: whole rump, brisket, shoulder, short ribs, prime rib, ribeye, etc.

     


    Pan fry

    Pan frying is similar to sautéing except that a little more oil is used. The cuts of beef do not have to be thin, and the cooking process may require more time. Like sautéing, high heat is used to sear the meat, creating a flavorful browned crust. It is also similar to grilling except a frying pan is used instead of a grill. The meat is patted with paper towels to remove excess moisture, seasoning is added, and then it is placed into a hot frying pan / skillet containing heated oil. The oil should sizzle when the meat hits the pan: if it doesn't sizzle, it is an indication that the pan and oil are not hot enough.

    The frying pan should have a heavy bottom so that heat will be conducted more easily and the heat is retained better while frying the meat. A large, well-seasoned, cast-iron pan works well or a heavy non-stick pan may be used. Make sure the pan is of adequate size so that there is plenty of room for the meat to brown. If the pan is crowded, the meat will steam more than it will brown. Do not use a fork to turn the beef in the pan because piercing the meat will allow juices to escape. Tongs or spatulas are the best tools to use.

    Beef steaks up to an inch thick are good candidates for pan-frying. The goal is to produce meat that has a brown, crispy surface with tender, juicy, and flavorful meat inside. Steaks may be fried to any degree of doneness that is desired and a meat thermometer can be used to check the internal temperature. A thick steak may be removed from the pan, covered, and allowed to rest for 5 minutes. This also allows the remaining meat juices to settle resulting in a juicy and flavourful steak. Note that the internal temperature will rise about 2 to 3°C while resting.

    Suitable cuts: same as grilling


     

    Stir fry

    Meat is thinly sliced to about 3mm thick and 3cm in diameter. Meat is seasoned and quickly stir-fried in a very hot, heavy bottom pan or wok to brown and make it flavourful. Do not overcrowd the pan otherwise the meat will steam. If a large quantity is required, you may have to repeat the process a few times.

    Remove the meat from the pan and keep warm. Stir-fry the vegetables and other ingredients until ready then mix in the meat, season to taste and serve.

    If you want a meat dish with sauce, the sauce is done in the same pan as the meat was browned. When the sauce is ready, mix in the meat, season to taste and serve.

    Suitable cuts: Fillet, sirloin, rump, flank, skirt, short rib meat, tri-tip etc.


     

    Roast

    Roasting is a dry heat cooking method for medium and larger pieces of meat in the oven or on a spit. The roasting process tends to evaporate and reduce the moisture content of the beef cut, shrinking the fibers and making the meat tough. Usually by the time the meat has reached an internal temperature of less than 48°C, the shrinking process is well under way. At the same time, the connective tissues and bits of fat throughout the meat (marbling) soften and melt, basting the meat as it cooks and helping to keep it tender. This is why lean cuts of beef with very little marbling can become very tough if they are roasted or cooked for a lengthy period. If beef is roasted too long or at too high a temperature, the melting fat and connective tissue will be reduced significantly, and the tenderizing effect will be lost. Beef cooked rare, or medium in the oven or on a spit will have plenty of moisture remaining, while beef that has been cooked well done will have very little moisture and will be much tougher.

    Season or marinate the meat and rub with oil. Place the meat on a rack in the roasting pan which is not too high and place it in a pre-heat oven of 200°C . Reduce the heat to 170°C for medium size pieces and to 150°C for large pieces. Because of its long cooking time, the meat will brown nicely at these temperatures over time and develop a nice and flavourful crust.

    Baste the meat constantly with its own juice or a marinade until it has reached the desired doneness. Roasts should be allowed to rest for 15 to 30 minutes at about 40 to 50°C before cutting. This allows the juices, which have been driven to the centre of the meat by the heat, to return to the rest of the meat, making it much juicier, more tender and flavourful.

    Suitable cuts: Prime rib, sirloin, ribeye, whole tenderloin, chuck roll, rump etc.


     

    Under vacuum (sous vide)

    The meat is sometimes first (or after sous vide) browned in a frying pan to make it more flavourful, then vacuum packed and simmered in a water bath usually around 60°C. This results in meat with an even doneness and also it is more tender and juicy.

    Suitable cuts: Practically all cuts as long as it fits properly into the water bath / sous vide machine

     


    Boil

    Boiling is done in liquid, just at the boiling point when bubbles are rising at around 90°C. When the liquid needs to be clear, because it is used as a soup, do not cover the cooking pot. Vegetables are usually added to enhance the flavour of the meat.

    Suitable cuts : Brisket, Shin shank, oxtail, oyster blade, rump cover, short ribs, tripe, tongue etc.


     

    Braise (Pot roast)

    Braising is a process of slow cooking tougher cuts of meat in liquid in order to add flavor and to moisten and tenderize the meat. It is similar to boiling but when braising, the meat is first browned on all sides, then cubed vegetables are added and often tomato paste too. It is then deglazed with wine and/or stock until almost covering the meat and then placed in an oven proof casserole with cover. The casserole is then placed in the oven at 160° C. Turn the meat from time to time and check its doneness. Remove the meat from the liquid and keep warm. Reduce the liquid to the desired thickness or add some corn starch to thicken and make a sauce. Slice the meat and arrange in a plate or deep dish platter, then pour the sauce over.

    In a beef cut such as a chuck roast, there is a pattern of connective tissues and thick marbling that makes the meat tough if it is not cooked with a method that melts these tissues. Dry heat-cooking methods, such as oven roasting, do not allow the internal temperature of the meat to become high enough to break down the fat and connective tissues. If the roast is left in the oven long enough to break down the tough tissues, then the outer portions of the meat become overcooked, dry, and tough. However, in braising, moisture in the pot prevents the outside portions of the meat from drying out.

    Suitable cuts: Chuck, eye round, outside flat, oyster blade, olives, short ribs, shin shank, cheek etc.


     

    Stew

    This method is used for tougher meat cuts as it takes longer time and the meat is cooked until it is tender. The meat is cut into 3 to 4 cm cubes and seasoned. The meat may be dusted with flour for better browning and to thicken the sauce. Use a heavy duty frying pan and brown the meat at high heat but do not overcrowd the pan so that the meat does not steam. If a large quantity is required, you may have to repeat the browning process in batches. Transfer the browned meat into a casserole and add other ingredients like onions, garlic, tomato paste, fresh tomatoes etc. Deglaze with wine or stock or both and bring to a simmer. Check the level of the liquid from time to time. When meat is tender, season to taste. If necessary, thicken the sauce with corn flour.

    Suitable cuts: Oxtail, chuck tender, shin shank, blade, brisket, short rib meat, rump, tri-tip, tripe etc.

     

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