So, I was a vegetarian for the entirety of my adult life until recently. I know close to nothing about cooking meat. I have joined a monthly meat buying-club in my area, and I'm now faced with the perplexing task of ordering. I'm lost!
The trouble I'm mostly having is with the beef.. I'm confused by the cuts, and what they mean.. I guess I want some steaks? and a couple of roasts? Can I go for the cheaper stuff? Is fat a consideration?
I don't expect a full-on schooling here, but I know y'all have some favorite go-to meals you might like to share, (btw i don't have a crock pot), or maybe you're able to steer me toward a helpful link? Got some quick knowledge of top roasts vs. bottom roasts, or ranch vs rib-eye and the comparable desirability? Srsly, I'm clueless. Anything you have to say about buying and preparing meat will be helpful.
I'm guess going to get some bacon and some brats, but other than that I might avoid pork. I like lamb, but I'm going to stick to the ground b/c of $$. Is there any reason at all to eat chicken, ever? I've never prepared a steak, and I'm intimidated by it for some reason, but ready to try. Also, with summer finally coming, I want to get something for the grill. My grill-skillz have hithertofore been limited to veg kebabs and boca burgers. Halp!
So far my DIY meaty adventures have included bacon (duh), ground bison, ground lamb, ground beef, 'artisan' sausages, part of a leg of a goat that I randomly bought at the carniceria because it looked like the beef shank I got from the fancy butcher (who instructed me to braise it, which I did, with success).
p.s. I'm not afraid of weird cuts or parts, because all of it is weird to me! I just want healthy/delicious/affordable.
edit: i got my meat order yesterday and just cooked and ate my first (ever) rib-eye steak! thanks for all your meaty help, people! <3
p.s. if anyone else wants to add their 2 cents on buying/handling/cooking/eating animals, please don't hesitate! esp. if you have something to say about the liver, the 'ageing' of meat, meat storage, and how much bacon one should really be eating....
asked byg_ (3631)
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on May 16, 2011
at 06:13 PM
Any beef cut with "loin" in the name, for the most part, is the leaner cut of the animal. Possible exception would be a Brazillian/Argentian style sirloin tip, which is covered with a 1/2" layer of fat (catnip for a caveman).
Loin steaks with a bit more fat would be the NY Strip, Porterhouse (basically a NY Strip and a Tenderloin separated by bone) and a T-Bone (porterhouse from the narrow tenderloin end). These are "leaner" cuts surrounded by fat.
Your fatty steaks, i.e. Ribeye, Delmonico are from similar areas but have more surface fat and marbling (intramuscular fat).
The "Brisket" (also called "breast" if referring to sheep/lamb/mutton) is the portion of meat covering the breastbone between the two front legs.
The "Chuck" and most chuck-derived portions will be from the shoulder/shoulderblade area and will require some braising/slow cooking (with the exception of the "mock tender steak" and the "chuck eye" steak. Because this comes from a "working" muscle, the flavor will be great but prep requires a bit more.
Rump/Round is, just like Chuck, a very tough cut that will require slow cooking. I normally save chuck for roasts and use rump/round for jerky because the fibers are broad and there isn't very much fat or connective in the way, unlike chuck/shoulder which is tough but interspersed with connective tissue and fat.
Oxtails are the bone-attached tail muscles of the steer, and due to the very high amounts of collagen in the joints between each "knuckle", they will create a fantastic broth with very little effort (slow cooker and some water/salt).
For your "loin cuts" and your fatty steaks - fast cooking methods i.e. sear/grill/etc... will usually be best.
For everything else, slow cook.
on May 17, 2011
at 12:55 AM
Beef Made Easy (http://i56.tinypic.com/14b0x84.jpg):
on May 16, 2011
at 06:15 PM
Hard to know where to start. If you're willing to buy, cook, and enjoy leg of goat, then you'd probably be fine with almost any cut of beef.
Familiarize yourself with a beef "primal" chart, and then figure out where all of the cuts that you see in the supermarket come from. This will help you to understand what they all are and what the different names mean. The different cuts and names are indeed bewildering, and vary by region, store, and nationality.
Generally, anything from the shoulder (chuck) or rump (round) is going to be tough with pretty good flavor, but requiring special treatment and/or long cooking. My local supermarket sells cuts from this area that are cut into steak shape and they sell them with misleading names like "eye steak" (sounds kind of like "ribeye") with a label that says "great on the grill", which I think is completely untrue. The best cuts for the grill are the "easy cuts" like sirloin and ribeye. Chuck and round are best for stews and pot roasts. The best recipe for this kind of meal in my opinion is beef bourguignon. But really, you could live a long and happy life without eating any cuts from these areas, and without spending a lot more money.
Flank and skirt also require special treatment and/or long cooking, though the actual meat has a very different texture than the chuck and round. You need to cook them either very quickly at high heat, or for a long time. Skirt is what is usually used in fajitas, and flank is great stuffed (roll it around a filling and braise for 1.0-1.5 hrs).
Lean meats cook faster than fatty meats, and I think that beef is best consumed rare to medium rare, for both cuisine and nutrition. That means 125-135F internal temp. Don't be afraid of the fat, which is good for you, and meat cooked on the bone will always be better/sweeter than boneless.
The "easy" cuts are from the sirloin and rib, and this includes many "named" cuts like porterhouse, T-bone, and ribeye. These will be more expensive but you can hardly mess them up if you don't way overcook them. This is a good starting point if you want to be sure of a satisfying meal without much worry. Just don't overcook them, and get yourself in the habit of eating red meat rare to medium rare from the beginning.
My favorite cut of all is hangar, which has all of the best attributes of ribeye, sirloin, and skirt, and even though it is boneless, tastes great, with full flavor. Up until a few years ago this was hard to find, but the butchers have caught on.
Always let meat rest for 10-20 minutes after cooking, it will taste a lot better and lose less of its juice. Also, the flavor and nutrition of grass fed / pastured vs. grain fed / factoried is way better, so stick to that if you can.
on May 16, 2011
at 06:11 PM
I was a lot like you about two years ago. Years of vegetarianism and little meat-cooking experience before that. You know what helped me? A good cookbook. Who would have thought? My favorite is Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. He covers all kinds of meats and cuts. He goes into different ways to cook a cut of meat with multiple variations.
Using the cookbook helped me learn some basics. I also used various recipe websites to get a feel of what I could do with various items.
If you do decide to grill a rib-eye steak, make sure that you let it sit prior to putting it on the grill, so it is no longer refrigerator cold, and to let it sit AFTER you cook it so it has a chance to make it nice and juicy. I think I found that information on a web site. Hmmm...where was it? Not sure if this is it, but this has some good info: http://artofmanliness.com/2008/03/12/grilling-the-perfect-steak/
Have fun trying out new recipes and methods of cooking!
on May 16, 2011
at 06:20 PM
Google "How to cook a steak". Also, determine how you like your steak. Might go out to a few restaurants so you can figure it out. Medium Rare is how most people (who aren't squeamish) like their steaks. It's how I like mine. Dark pink on the inside, but not red and cold. Well, and medium well get pretty tough, and any steak connoisseur will tell you that you're wasting a perfectly good piece of meat. If that's how you like it, though, tell them to shove off ;) Chances are pretty good you'll like medium the best at first.
I would strongly recommend investing in that crockpot. Especially if you have a job, which I'm assuming you do. Some things are just better slow-cooked.
Chicken. It can taste amazing. Because of the high omega 6, I guess if you can afford better meats, then eat those instead. I eat chicken because I'm poor. And because roasted chicken is a comfort food.
Honestly, Googling cooking techniques is something I do regularly, and I have a culinary arts degree.
Chowstalker.com is a paleo recipe site that keeps my google reader inundated with more recipes than I can read. Sorry if this is badly organized, I need some caffeine. I hope it helps.
on May 17, 2011
at 05:34 AM
Beef: hangar steak rib-eye and some braising cuts. If you can get it some nice heart steaks are delicious. Definite gateway organ meat and cheap.
Pork: Shoulder with a nice thick layer of fat on it. Trim some of the fat and try your hand at rendering. It is the nicest fat. White and creamy and flavorful. Then brown the shoulder and braise it until it falls apart. That's Carnitas Pork Belly is also absurdly easy to make.
Chicken: whole birds broken down will give you carcasses to make lovely broth from. Then you will have pieces (I freeze them individually) to eat occasionally. Also if you can get them buy bags of chicken livers (quick cook) and of Gizzards (Braise or confit). These are great tasting/mild tasting organ meats. They are so much cheaper to get pasture raised than the chickens themselves which cost $$$$.
Other: Haven't tried my had at Goat yet. Attended a rabbit cooking event tonight and rabbit is delicious. I do ducks every few months. The fat is rendered and used for confit. The bodies make very flavorful broth. And the rest of the meat is either slow cooked (in the crock pot) as confit or quick cooked rare (breast)
I <3 meat. I <3 my dutch oven. I <3 my crock pot
on May 17, 2011
at 03:10 AM
I was the same; I've only been eating meat for a year after a ten year hiatus and never knew how to cook it. I live in Japan so the cuts we can get here are different, but over the past year I've experimented with venison, making my own black pudding, eating liver, heart stew and all the rest.
Basically loin and steak, the most expensive parts, are tender and need less cooking. Thin strips, as used in Korean barbeque (and Japanese cuisine) also require next to no time. To save money, however, the cheaper, tougher cuts are better, and in many ways more delicious. You don't need a crock pot but you do need a bit of time- I cook in bulk and eat the same dinner or lunch three or four days in a row. Here are some of my favorite "slow" recipes:
For beef shin or any other tough cut, try Massaman curry: http://www.shesimmers.com/2010/07/massaman-curry-recipe.html
For pork shoulder (known, confusingly, as butt), try carnitas: http://homesicktexan.blogspot.com/2008/07/carnitas-houston-style.html
For beef rendang (Indonesian): http://lizzieeatslondon.blogspot.com/2010/07/beef-rendang.html
I also eat a lot of ground beef (or mince as we Brits call it), which is incredibly versatile. A bolognese ragu stewed for three hours is unbelievably delicious- with red wine,
My go-to ground lamb dish is as follows:
Serves 6 Cook 45mins
2 tbsp coconut oil (or lard or other animal fat) 2 med onions 1 tbsp ground turmeric 1 tsp ground cinnamon 700 grams minced lamb 75 grams red lentils - omit if you like 300 ml chicken stock Salt & pepper 450 g potatoes 125 g grated cheese Ovenproof dish
Heat oven to mark 4/350 f /180c
Heat oil, add onions for 2 mins. Add turmeric and cinnamon and stir well for another minute. Add lamb and fry for 5 mins until browned. Tip in lentils & stock. Cook the potatoes sliced in salted simmering water until cooked through but still hard and holding their shape. Pour the lamb mixture into an oven proof dish, cover with potatoes, sprinkle cheese over the top and then bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and slightly browned.
Not absolutely paleo if you consider the cheese and lentils, but either could be omitted. You could also add cumin and garlic.
I don't know how much you cooked as a vegetarian, or what your tastes are, but I prefer Asian cuisine to almost any other, so the way I cook meat often reflects that. I have a big spice cabinet and throw garlic into just about everything. Onions are now your best friends. "Brown until soft and add meat" starts off about every recipe I know. Check out some food blogs for recipes and speak to your butcher/person in the supermarket! Good luck.
on May 17, 2011
at 01:02 AM
I only buy (lamb) steaks and always cook them in a cast iron pan on low heat. After you make a couple that are basically raw or overly done, you get a feel for about how long it takes. I enjoy the taste, so the only thing I add is a bit of salt.
As far as the cut goes, I choose the fattiest one I can find. I inevitably encounter bites of it that are basically a big mouthful of fat, which may be off-putting at first, so you might want to ease into the super-fatty cuts.
Every day I eat a couple pounds of it, which means I'll cook 3 of the steaks at once and then refrigerate the other ones until later to increase efficiency.
I've tried cooking roasts and shanks and things, but it's quite a lot more labor-intensive and I'm not really impressed with the end-product.