What is the Best Meat-Cooking Technique?
Meat is cooked for four reasons — to tenderize it, to provide additional flavors, to kill harmful bacteria, and to kill parasites such as Trichinella spiralis and Diphyllobothrium. While all four can be achieved by cooking a piece of meat at high temperature for a short period of time, it can also be achieved by cooking at low temperature for a long period of time. Each goal is achieved at a different temperature, and takes a different length of time to achieve. There is an inverse relationship between temperature and time; low and slow, or high and fast, with Southern BBQ being an excellent example of low and slow - taking a tough cut of meat and producing pulled pork barbecue by cooking low (at low temperature) and slow (for a long duration).
Many different types of cookery methods exist and the best one to use largely depends on the muscle cut. However, the question always arises on whether to cook a piece of meat fast or slow. It is generally recognized that moist heat cookery is generally slow cooked and dry heat cookery is fast, but this is not always the case. The reasoning is due to several different factors including type of heat transfer and ambient humidity. Moist heat cookery can be used to cook meat very fast and dry heat cookery can be used for a slow-type cook.
Use of either heat can yield differing results. Research has shown that using roasts from the rib and round of beef, tenderness profiles can be changed. It has been found that the muscle cuts subjected to the slower cooking regimen produced more tender meat.
Based on a research study by food technologists, they used cooking temperatures, 93◦C and 149◦C; and the cuts from the round took 2.5 times longer to cook and the cuts from the rib took 1.5–1.75 times longer when cooked at the lower temperature than the cuts at the higher temperature. In that study, they concluded that the added tenderness was due to the degradation or solubilization of collagen. As discussed previously, the solubilization of collagen is increased by a slower cooking rate.
How to Tenderize Meat?
1) Toughness in meat is derived from several proteins, such as actin, myosin and collagen, that combined form the structure of the muscle tissue. Heating these proteins causes them to denature, or break down into other substances, which in turn changes the structure and texture of meat, usually reducing its toughness and making it more tender. This typically happens between 55 °C and 65 °C (131 °F and 149 °F) over an extended period of time. To cook meat correctly and into perfection, you need an accurate and very easy to use meat thermometer. I recently bought one at Amazon.com. Buy one at... ProAccurate Quick-Read Thermometer.
2) Thickness determines cooking time, not weight.
3) The thinner the meat, the higher the heat.
4) The higher the heat, the less room for error. Food can go from succulent to sucky in a hurry at high heat.
5) Cook tough cuts low and slow at 225°F.
6) Foods under 1-inch thick should cook hot and fast over direct radiant heat.
7) Foods more than 1inch thick need to cook in two stages, low and slow at 225°F for the inside and hot and fast for the outside. This is the reverse sear and you should master it.
8) Low and slow is also essential for tough cuts like beef brisket, pork shoulder, and ribs. These cuts are too tough to eat at medium rare, 130 to 135°F, the optimum temperature for most other cuts of beef and pork. They have lots of tough connective tissue. But if they are cooked long enough to a mind boggling 203°F or so, magic happens. Fats melt and the tough stuff softens up.
9) There is another very good reason to cook low and slow. It is easier to hit the bulls eye of a slow moving target. You stand a better chance of getting the food done to the proper temp without overshooting the mark. You widen the window on perfection. Food can go from succulent to sucky in a hurry at high heat.
10) Also, when you cook low and slow, you give salt time to migrate towards the center seasoning the meat throughout. That's because if you salt or brine meat, even if it sits in a brine overnight, the salt takes its time moving towards the center and stays mostly at or near the surface. But when meat heats up, the salt moves faster.
11) You also give the food more time to bathe in smoke. On a steak, for example, if you sear it first and cook it quick, you don't get much chance for smoke to flavor the meat. Starting low and slow give you more smoke flavor.
12) Remember the Rule of Thumb: The thicker the meat, the lower the cooking temperature. The thinner the meat, the higher the heat.
Cool People Who Read This Also Read the Following:
Aidells, Bruce. 2012. The Great Meat Cookbook: Everything You Need to Know to Buy and Cook Today's Meat. Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition. ISBN-10: 0547241410
Aidells, Bruce andDenis Kelly. 2001. The Complete Meat Cookbook. Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN-10: 061813512X
Krasner, Deborah and 2010. Good Meat: The Complete Guide to Sourcing and Cooking Sustainable Meat. Stewart, Tabori and Chang; 8.2.2010 edition. ISBN-10: 1584798637