15 Must Knows about Meat and Poultry
1. Choose perfect cuts of red meat.
Red meat such as beef, pork and lamb should have a moist, red surface with no signs of drying or surface film. The fat should be a creamy white color and should not be dry. Look for even, well-cut meat that is free from sinew and excess fat. To store your meat, it is best to loosely wrap it on a plate and put it in the coldest part of your refrigerator so the air can circulate around it. Red meat should be either cooked or frozen within 2-3 days or purchase.
2. Keep the breading on meats.
If a recipe calls for coating meat with breadcrumbs, refrigerate the breaded portions for an hour or even overnight before cooking. This will help the breading cling when you cook the meat instead of sticking to the bottom of the pan! Breaded meats can even be frozen and pan-fried without defrosting. Be sure to increase the cooking time slightly.
3. Freezing meat.
When freezing red meat or poultry, wrap it very tightly or seal it in a plastic bag to prevent air spoilage or freezer burn. Be sure not to pile pieces on top of each other but do pack meat as flat as possible so it freezes quickly, which will ensure its texture is not spoiled. Meat should be completely thawed in the refrigerator before cooking. Never thaw poultry at room temperature or you risk salmonella contamination.
4. Stop meatloaf from sticking to the pan.
Tired of meatloaf that sticks to the pan? Toss in a slice of raw bacon before adding meat to the pan, and say goodbye to the sticking. It may not be the healthiest alternative but it does work (and tastes great)!
5. Make a juicer roast.
To keep all of the natural juices inside your roast, sear it on all sides in a hot skillet with a little vegetable oil before putting it in the roasting pan. A few seconds per side is all it takes since the point is not to cook the meat but rather to toughen up the outside so that the juices don’t flow out while it’s cooking. Then be sure to use a shallow roaster to retain more of the moisture. Uncover the meat halfway through roasting in order to avoid a steamed appearance and to get the top of your roast browned.
6. Make tastier hamburgers.
Homemade hamburgers are easy to make and taste far better than the store bought variety. Make them with medium ground beef, an egg and breads crumbs or crushed crackers. Season with your favorite seasonings or add barbecue sauce for a smoky flavor. For juicier burgers, add one-eighth cup of ice water to your beef or turkey before forming patties.
7. Choose perfect poultry.
When choosing poultry, the skin should be a light creamy color and it should be moist. It should also be unbroken with no dark patches. Fresh poultry should be stored loosely covered on a plate in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
8. Get crispier fried chicken.
For crispier fried chicken, add a teaspoon of baking powder to your coating mix then coat and fry as you normally would. Remember to make sure that the oil is very hot before adding the chicken to avoid an overpowering greasy taste.
9. Don’t salt meat before cooking.
One of the biggest faux pas when it comes to cooking meat is to salt it prior to cooking. What the salt actually does is draws the juices out and impedes the browning of the meat. Instead, add salt once the meat is already half cooked. Then taste it when it’s done and if more salt is needed you can add it then. The result is juicy, tasty meat that doesn’t contain more salt then it needs!
10. Cooking poultry.
Despite what you may have heard, poultry does not need to be washed before cooking. Wipe it with a damp cloth if needed. If it has been frozen, wipe it with absorbent paper to remove any excess moisture. Always be sure that poultry is cooked through. To test for readiness, pierce the flesh at the thickest part with a fork. If the juices run clear then it is cooked.
11. Cooking fish.
To minimize moisture loss when grilling, baking or sautéing fish, it’s important to use a relatively high heat and cook the fish for a short time. When you cook fish longer than necessary, the juices and flavors are lost, leaving the fish dry and chewy. Plus, overcooked fish is prone to falling apart.
12. Roast meats perfectly.
For tender, juicier roasted meats, substitute wine, tea or beer for water in your favorite recipes. These liquids help to tenderize the meat more than plain water does and they add a rich flavor to whatever you are cooking. Go ahead and try it, you’ll be surprised what a difference it makes.
13. Make perfect meatloaf.
If you don’t want your meatloaf soaking in drippings of fat and water while it cooks, invest in one of the new meatloaf pans with a built-in rack. The holes in the bottom of the rack allow the juices to drain away from the meat. The result is perfect meatloaf every time!
14. The different fat contents in ground beef.
In most cases, regular ground beef is a better buy than medium or lean. And some foods – such as hamburgers – are more tender and tasty when made with regular ground beef because of the extra fat content. Any excess fat can easily be drained off. So, unless medium ground beef is on sale or not more than 7 percent more expensive than regular ground beef, it’s not a good buy.
15. Quickly cook chicken for recipes requiring pre-cooked chicken.
An easy method of preparing chicken for recipes that call for pre-cooked chicken is to “poach” it. This involves simmering it slowly in liquid. This can be water, broth, fruit juice, wine or a combination of these. Poach the chicken until tender, about 15-20 minutes, then chop or slice as specified in the recipe.