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Techniques for Meats, Poultry, Fish, and Shellfish

Techniques for Meats, Poultry, Fish, and Shellfish

Pork with salt, bay leaves, and perper corns.

Culinary Institute of America

Preparing Beef

In the United States, people take their beef very seriously. The United States produces more beef than any other nation, and it is second only to Argentina in per capita consumption of beef.

Flavor and texture of beef depend on which muscle the cut comes from. In general, the more exercise the muscle gets, the tougher the meat will be, and the more fat, whether intramuscular (called marbling) or on the outside of the cut, the more flavorful the meat will be.

No matter which part of the animal the cut comes from, beef is high in protein, iron, and vitamin B12. Portion sizes should be limited to three to four ounces (cooked weight) per serving. Even at this amount, beef can supply nearly 100 milligrams of cholesterol and 10 grams of fat. Using meat as an ingredient—in a stew or tagine, for example, or pasta sauce—allows you to serve portions that are appropriately sized yet don’t appear meager.

Steaks and roasts that come from the rib are especially prized for their balance of tenderness and flavor. Loin cuts are extremely tender as well. Cuts from the round are generally less tender, but some, particularly top round, take well to roasting. Flank and skirt steak are quite flavorful and have a fair amount of marbling; they must be cooked carefully and sliced properly to ensure they remain tender. Most cuts from the rib, loin, round, and flank can be roasted, broiled, grilled, pan-fried, or sautéed; short ribs and back ribs, as well as some round cuts, take well to braising.

Cuts such as tripe, tongue, oxtails, heart, and liver are not as popular in the United States as elsewhere in the world. These cuts are generally extremely flavorful and take well to simmering and braising. Organ meats are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals—liver is extremely high in vitamins A and C, as well as iron—but a 3-ounce/85-gram cooked serving supplies almost as much cholesterol as two large eggs.

Whenever possible, broil or grill steaks to allow fat to drip away; setting roasts on a rack does the same. Prepare braises, stews, and pot roasts in advance. Chill the liquid separately from the meat so the fat congeals on the top, then scrape it off before reheating.

For our guide to preparing veal, go to the next page -— >