Everyone loves a hearty barbecue, with juicy, tantalising slabs of steak and ribs usually on the menu. Sure, the eating part is always the best, but when it comes to actually shopping for what to cook, how does one decide with so many cuts of meats, grades, and processing and cooking methods out there? Don’t worry: The experts at Aussie Meat are here to explain all things meat so that you’ll never be at a loss again the next time you’re planning for a feast.
Common cuts of meats and how to cook them
- Chuck: You can find chuck in the front upper section of the cow, where it is highly active. Because of its extremely lean nature, chuck is best served in a pot roast.
- Brisket: Just below the chuck is the brisket, best cooked slowly in low temperatures that can get tricky to control.
- Ribeye: Fat and juicy, the ribeye is a highly popular beef steak from the rib section. It's best seared over high heat on a frying pan or a skillet.
- Round: At the back legs of the cow is the round cut of meat, which is best served oven-roasted or slow-cooked. This part is often used for hamburger meat as it’s lean and easy to ground up.
- Striploin: Found in the spine of a cow where the muscles does little work, the striploin is a particularly tender cut with a rich flavour. It tastes best when it's grilled or pan-fried.
Grass-fed versus grain-fed
Perhaps you’ve heard that grass-fed beef is healthier and better than grain-fed, but why exactly is that? Grass-fed beef comes from cows being raised on their natural diet of grass. The cows roam freely in pastures, making for lean and healthy beef that contains less fat and more omega-3, vitamin E, and other antioxidants.
Conversely, grain-fed cows are raised on a mixed diet containing corn, soy, and other grains. They are also usually confined to feeding lots, though some do prefer the resulting fatty juiciness over grass-fed beef’s gaminess.
Dry-ageing versus wet-ageing
Aging meat breaks down muscle fibres and tissues, making it more tender and easier to chew. But why does it matter how the beef is aged? The answer is in the flavour and the price.
Dry-aging is when whole cuts are left to hang and age. This process can take weeks or even months, with the volume of the meat shrinking over time, but you’re then rewarded with a glorious, meaty flavour. Wet-aging is when the beef is vacuum-sealed in plastic and aged during transit, which ensures that there’s no loss of moisture or bacterial spoilage.
Lean cuts such as filet mignon benefit from wet-aging as it prevents the meat from drying and shrivelling up. Dry-aged beef is more expensive and specialised, while wet-aged beef is more accessible, and possesses intense and sour taste notes. In the end, whether you prefer dry-aged or wet-aged beef really comes down to individual tastes—why not just try both?
Frozen versus chilled
As you can probably guess from their names, the main difference between these two types of meats lies in their temperatures. In the food industry, freezing typically refers to deep freezing, where the temperature of a product is lowered below -18 degrees Celcius. Chilling, on the other hand, means that the food is kept cool, in temperatures ranging from one to four degrees Celsius.
Chilled meats are quicker to cook than their frozen counterparts as no defrosting is required. However, chilled meats will decolour over time due to oxidation, so they’re sometimes treated with harmless chemicals to retain that attractive red sheen. Some assume that as the closest condition to fresh meats, chilled meats must be better than frozen. In reality, the low temperatures of frozen meat ensure that all its nutrients, juices, and taste are locked in the meat, while chilled meats lose more vitamins over time sitting in the fridge. Keep that in mind the next you’re doing your rounds at the supermarket!
How to properly thaw meat
Before you get round to cooking your meats, don’t forgot to thaw them out! Don’t make the mistake of just leaving the meat out on the counter, though—bacteria will multiply swiftly in temperatures above five degrees Celsius, making the meat unsafe to eat. Instead, thaw your meat by leaving them in the fridge overnight, submerging the package in cold water, or using your microwave's defrost setting.
Of the three methods, thawing via the microwave’s “defrost” setting would be the quickest, but the downside is that you must cook the meat immediately after. To thaw in cold water, make sure the package is watertight so bacteria doesn’t get in. Thawing by the way of the fridge lets you refreeze the meat if you change your mind, although the meat may have lost some of its quality. If you’ve forgotten to thaw in advance, it’s also safe to cook food directly from their frozen state, though you’d be in for some waiting!
Catch some of their great ongoing offers, such as the luscious cuts in their BBQ packs where you get one free for every nine pieces of meat you purchase! Additionally, this winter, Aussie Meat is partnering up with local charity Impact HK to give back to the homeless in our city. From 1 September 2020 until the end of December, Aussie Meat will donate $50 for every order over $1,500, and $100 for orders over $2,500. Do good by your taste buds and the city at the same time—our favourite way to kill two birds with one stone!
Article collaborated with Localliz: