While there are many different cuts and corresponding cooking methods, preparing a great piece of meat does not have to be overly complicated or difficult. Let’s begin with a few techniques that can be utilized with basic equipment in a home setting:
Braising is a great way to create tender, flavorful meat from portions of the animal that are larger and take longer to cook. The meat simmers slowly in liquid, helping to break down tough fibers and extracting all the deep flavors. Whether it’s stock, wine, or just water, there are many great options and flavor additions. Although not every braise calls for it, a good way to begin is by searing the meat on all sides before adding the other ingredients. Braising is meant to be slow and low, but will be well worth the wait and results.
Roasting uses dry heat to slowly cook and flavor a piece of meat. Low temperatures will coax the meaty flavors from the cut, circulating the juices while minimizing the loss of moisture. Depending on the cut and shape of the roast, a good strong cooking twine can be crucial for even cooking temperatures. The goal is to tie the roast into a more even shape, ensuring an even finish throughout the portion. It’s important to use lower temperatures and longer time for the best results.
Searing is a great way to add color and texture. It’s typically done on high heat and involves a hot grill, pan, or even the broiler in your oven. Depending on the cut, a hot sear can do the majority of the cooking or be a small, finishing part of the process. For example, the thinner flap, flank, and skirt steaks do well with high heat searing from start to finish, where as a nice thick Ribeye will do better with slow roasting and quick sear at the end.
Roasting/Searing combination, which often means roasting and broiling, is one of the best ways to cook a thick steak. Evenly cooked meat contrasts with a flavorful crunchy crust, giving you the best of both methods. Since there is both low and high heat cooking involved, it’s a good idea to use an oven proof probe thermometer. This will ensure accurate internal temperatures and let you know when it’s time to turn up the heat.
Grilling can impart wonderful flavors to an already great tasting piece of meat. The range of temperatures capable at one time gives you plenty of options, whether you’d like to cook something slowly or need to get a hot sear. The type of fire you are using will also contribute to the end result. Almond wood, for example, is going to add a different dimension than a charcoal or propane grill.
Smoking can be used for flavor, cooking, or any combination of the two. Low heat smoking creates a dry cooking environment similar to a roast, but the addition of smoke adds an entirely new dimension to the end result. Controlled cooking temperatures and different types of fuel are both contributing factors. There is also cold smoking, which is less about cooking and more about drying and flavor, but for our purposes, hot smoking will be the most utilized method. This means the meat will be cooked and smoked at the same time.
Poaching is an effective cooking method when dealing with sausage. It involves cooking the sausage in a hot pot of liquid. One of the most basic methods is to bring a pot of water to a boil, then drop your cased sausage into the water. Bring it back to a boil, and as soon as it starts, turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let the sausage sit in the covered pot for 15 – 20 minutes until completely cooked through. You can also poach sausage in a stew, such as a pot of lentils with extra liquid, which will both cook the sausage and flavor the stew at the same time. Water, beer, wine, and stock are all acceptable poaching options.
For more specific information on cuts, methods, and temps, you can review the following cooking related charts, or if you have more specific questions, email us at email@example.com.