There are a lot of different factors that go into cooking the perfect piece of meat. From the farm to the kitchen every small detail will make a big difference. Below is a guide to help you learn more about where your meat comes from, what cut to choose and how to cook it.
Where the Meat Comes From
Free range vs factory farming, Grass fed vs grain fed. There are so many different methods to raising a cow. No matter how big or small the differences are between breeding, age, feeding & management it all shows in the meat. Grain fed cows will usually be factory farmed and a lot fattier than the free range grass fed cows. Some cows can be force fed so much that their legs break because of their own weight. Once this happens the cow will most likely die from the stress, but if the cow does not die it will be a beautifully marbled piece of meat.
At the end of the day you want a cow that has had no stress in its life. The reason for this is shown dramatically in the meat. The meat of an animal is made up of glycogen, this is turned into lactic acid when the animal is dead and is what makes the muscle and carcass firm. The lactic acid is essential for the tastefulness, quality, colour and storage length of the meat. If the cow is stressed before its death it will use up the glycogen and the lactic acid level that develops the meat after slaughter is reduced.
This is where the meat gets graded and classified. Each cut of meat is charged a different price due to availability, tenderness and tastefulness. The beef tenderloins for example are a very small cut of the cow and need minimal cooking time. With an increased demand of a product that is not in as large of a supply of say roasts from the chuck or shoulder the price evidently goes up. After the portioning of the carcass has taken place and each piece of meat is delegated and it goes into the classifying and grading process. You cannot have wagyu beef cheeks, all of the cow gets cut up into different sections T-bone, Eye Fillet etc. but the bones, cheeks and tail get taken into a different system, so cannot ever by classified as Wagyu/Kobe etc.
Choosing your cut of meat is completely up to what you are looking to cook. In order to get the maximum satisfaction of taste as well as nutrition from your cut of meat, each cut should be matched with the correct cooking procedure. Loin cuts are more tender and will benefit from broiling or other dry-heat methods where as cuts closer to the bone are better off cooked in stews or soups, Osso Bucco as an example.
The Cooking Process
Whichever cut of meat you choose, always wait for the meat to be room temperature before cooking. This will ensure that when it is cooking the inside is always cooked to perfection and the heat isn’t left trying to seep its way through a 3 degrees core. If you have a cut that is thick such as an eye fillet, seal it off on a pan/BBQ or grill and finish it off in the oven. This will help to really spread out the heat and cook the inside at the same time as the outside. As well as ensuring you do not have a charcoaled outer layer with a cold inside. Most cuts of meat will benefit by being cooking medium rare. If it’s cooked more it will become very dry, if it is cooked less it will be a lot more chewy and bloody. The perfect cooking style will be determined to personal preference in the end though.
Always rest your steak before it is placed onto its serving plate. This will ensure all of the blood seeps out of it and the flavours have time to settle. If you decide not to rest your steak, your entire plate will eventually fill with blood. If you are making a sauce, use the blood you have gained from resting your steak and pour it into your red wine jus or gravy. This will give it a bit more oomph and compliment the steak with the same sort of flavours.
Chips, salad, roast vegies or steamed greens, pair your steak with your favourite sides and enjoy with family and friends.
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