PREP & COOKING TIPS
Cooking beef can be as satisfying as the savory pleasure of eating it, when you have key tools at hand. But before you start to picture yourself biting into that juicy steak or burger, take a few steps back.
A little preparation will go a long way to making your cooking time more effective and efficient.
Organize your kitchen for the types of cuts you prepare most often. Your options increase exponentially when you have an assortment of cookware, seasonings, and a level of comfort with different cooking methods and techniques.
Remember proper food handling will ensure you bring a safe and wholesome meal to the table each and every time. But even the most experienced cooks sometimes need a reminder about safety rules.
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Burgers, meatloaf, meatballs and other ground beef recipes will be more tender if you handle the meat as little as possible as you add seasonings and other ingredients. If you over mix it, you’ll end up with a firm, compact texture after cooking.
Dry beef by patting with paper towel before cooking. Liquid sizzles in the pan creating steam that can prevent browning.
To evenly cook of kabobs, cut into equal-sized cubes (but don’t worry if they’re not perfectly square) and leave a little space between each piece.
Put beef in the freezer for about 30 minutes, or until just firm, to make the meat firm and easier to cut into strips.
Add salt after cooking. Salting before cooking can draw the moisture and juices out of the meat.
Turn Meat with Tongs
If you use a fork, it will pierce the beef and release flavorful juices. When flipping burgers, you can also use a spatula, but don’t use it to press down on the beef, or you’ll lose the juices that make your burger moist.
Monitor the Heat
If the heat is too high you might overcook your beef on the outside while the inside is still undercooked. For tender beef, cooked to the desired doneness. Use medium heat with most dry-heat cooking methods, such as grilling and sautéing, and medium-high heat for stir-frying. Low heat is ideal for moist-heat cooking methods, like braising.
Marinades and Rubs
Marinades and rubs not only add excitement and flavor to many cuts of beef, but with the right ingredients, marinades can also be used to make some cuts more tender.
Food Safety Tips
Pick Up Beef Just Before Checking Out
When shopping, pick up beef just before checking out. Only put refrigerated beef in your cart if it’s very cold to the touch. Frozen beef should be solid as a rock. If it will take longer than 30 minutes to get your purchase home, keep your beef in a cooler.
Check the “Sell By” Date
Remember to check the “sell by” date to make sure it hasn’t expired before you buy.
Follow the “Use By” Date
For beef stored in the refrigerator, be sure to follow the “use by” information on package labels. If you can’t remember when a food item was placed there, throw it out.
Know When to Use Refrigerated Beef
Use refrigerated beef steaks and roasts within 3 to 5 days of purchase. All fresh ground beef should be used within 1 to 2 days of purchase.
If fresh beef will not be used before the expiration date, place tightly wrapped beef in your freezer on the bottom shelf. You can freeze beef in its original transparent wrap up to two weeks. For longer storage, wrap in heavy-duty aluminum foil or place in plastic freezer bags. Remove as much air as possible.
First In, First Out
But before putting any beef in the freezer, label each package with the date, name of beef cut and weight or number of servings. This will help you follow the “first in, first out” rule: use the beef with the earliest date first.
In the refrigerator, place raw or thawing beef in a container or on a dish that will prevent juices from dripping onto other foods.
Use a separate cutting board when prepping raw beef. Wash the board thoroughly in hot, soapy water before using the same board for any other ingredients.
Never put cooked beef back on the same plate you used for raw meat, and make sure to use clean utensils as well.
Any leftovers should be covered, refrigerate and eaten within 3 to 4 days – or frozen up to 3 months. Reheat to 165°F throughout. Stir foods during reheating to be sure that all the food reaches the appropriate temperature. When in doubt, throw it out. Never taste leftover food that looks or smells strange.