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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 Lamb

Increasingly popular, lamb is raised to be consistently lean and tender. It is milder in flavor than in years past, and it is available year-round rather than just in the spring. Choose lamb that is pink to deep pink with pearly white fat; deep red meat indicates an older animal, which will have a much stronger flavor and slightly coarser texture. Older lamb also tends to have more marbling than younger animals and is therefore higher in fat. The layer of external fat can be trimmed off easily; in addition to lowering the fat content, it also lessens the “gamy” flavor lamb may have.

Like veal, lamb is cut into ribs (also known as racks), shoulder, breast, shank, loin, and leg, and can be prepared similarly. Lamb shank is the leanest cut, but it can be tough. It should be braised or stewed.

Preparing Game

Game meats are increasing in popularity, due in part to their nutritional benefits. As a general rule, game meats are exceptionally lean and particularly low in saturated fat. Venison and bison are excellent alternatives to beef for red meat lovers. Both are farm-raised, and this type of venison is less gamy and more tender than animals from the wild. Venison, bison, and other farm-raised animals such as rabbit are available throughout the year.

Because game meats are so low in fat—a 3-ounce cooked serving of venison shoulder roast supplies about 3 grams—it must be cooked carefully to prevent it from toughening. As with other animals, cuts from less-exercised parts of the animal, such as the loin and rib, can be prepared with such dry-heat methods as grilling, roasting, and sautéing. Leg or haunch, shank, and shoulder are better braised or stewed; they can also be ground for use in pâtés and charcuterie.

Preparing Poultry

Poultry skin may be left on during roasting and baking, because this helps prevent the loss of natural juices without adding any significant amount of fat to the meat. Tucking herbs or other aromatics under the skin before cooking is a clever way to introduce an extra flavor element. For any cooking method other than roasting or baking, though, the skin should be removed before cooking, and skin should always be removed before service.

For our guide for preparing fish and shellfish, go to the next page -- >