There are a lot of delicious recipes out there using meat, from BBQ ribs to breaded chicken tenders. But how do you make sure that you have the right cook on your meat?
Before anything else, you have to know the safety rules for cooking meat. The food safety board recommends an internal temperature of about 63c to ensure your meat is cooked all the way through. This is best for you safety wise as none of the meat will be under cooked, protecting you from food poisoning or illnesses like salmonella, staph, and listeria. However, those cooking temperatures aren’t necessarily the best for flavour. Most chefs recommend an internal temperature of about 54-57c to get the best cook on your meat.Therefore it is important to have an idea on food safety temperatures before you cook meat.
Caramelise for Flavour
Caramelised meat provides a wonderful depth of flavour and colour for your dish, and if you’re making a meal that requires a sauce or broth, you can cook them in the same pan afterwards to use up all the meaty flavour that’s sitting on the bottom. To caramelise, make sure your meat is dry first, and cook with a small amount of oil until the meat lifts easily and no longer sticks to the pan. Make sure you’re using an oil with a low smoke point so that you aren’t causing the fire alarms to go off when cooking your favourite lamb recipes!
Cook Low and Slow for Moisture
Cheaper cuts of meat need to be cooked in moisture to avoid going tough and dry. This means cooking in the oven or a pot with a stock, wine, and veggies and herbs. This is a great method to impart flavour using a cooking method that isn’t known for being particularly flavourful. The longer your meat is the oven, the better. Keep everything on low and leave it in there for at least 2-4 hours. If you have a slow cooker you could start dinner in the morning, leave the meat in there all day and it will be perfectly cooked and juicy by dinnertime!
Let it Rest
After your meat is finished cooking, you need to let it rest. This allows the juices to spread from the centre of the meat further outwards, making the entire cut more moist and causing you to lose less moisture when you cut into it. A good rule is to let it rest about 15-20 minutes, depending on the meat. So after you’ve taken everything out of the skillet, start preparing your salad and pouring your drinks; the meat should be ready to serve by the time you’re finished!
Things to Avoid
Don’t flip your meat too soon because it won’t be seared and will stick to the pan, creating a big mess and a not-so-pretty cut of meat. Moving it around a lot in the pan won’t allow time for it to get crispy and flavourful. Also, take your meat out of the fridge a while before you start cooking it, that way you won’t end up with a dish that’s undercooked and cold on the inside, and overcooked on the outside.
Cooking meats is all about the perfect balance between texture, colour and flavour. It sounds daunting, but with these tips and a little bit of practice, you’ll be getting it right in no time!