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★ HOW TO Cook Meat - Recipes for Beef | Pork | Lamb | Chicken | Turkey ★

Updated on February 16, 2016
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Learn to Cook Meat to Perfection with Inspiring Recipes

I have always liked to bake cakes and cook desserts, and it just comes naturally to me and seems simple and straightforward. But unfortunately, the world of meat cooking has only been on my radar recently when I had to fend for myself as a student - however, cooking meat seemed so complicated, daunting and overwhelming, that I ate pasta for 3 years!

Maybe my struggle is due to not being taught any savoury cooking at any time in my life by my parents or at school, so it just seems like a foreign world. Or perhaps it's the many different types of meat, different ways to cook them, different levels of 'done-ness', different cuts, etc etc that's confusing, but anyhow I'm in my twenties now and it really is time to force myself to get my head around it!

So I've therefore researched the different cuts you can get, how to cook them, how you know whether it's 'done' and I've also included the best recipes as well.

I hope people who are just as lost as I am will find it useful :-)

Pot Roast Chicken

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Best Meat Cookbooks

Here are some top-rated books that are definitely enough to make any carnivore salivate!

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Suitable Cooking Methods for Beef

What I like to remember when cooking beef is that as long as you handle it hygienically, and the meat is good quality, you can actually eat beef raw. I like to remember this because it means I'm not going to poison anyone if I undercook the beef!

There are a lot of different cuts of beef available, and there are also several ways you can cook it.

The main cuts you will see are:

- Rib: Roast, pan fry or grill for best results.

- Fillet: This is a quality and more expensive cut, and can be roasted, pan fried or grilled.

- Sirloin: Roast, pan fry or grill. This is a good cut of beef to marinate for extra flavour.

- Rump: Roast, grill, pan fry or barbeque.

- Rib eye: Pan fry, grill or BBQ.

- Brisket (on the bone or rolled): Best to slowly heat this cut in liquid, for instance in a stew. You can also braise or pot-roast it.

- Topside: Roast.

- Silverside: Pot roasts and stews.

- Skirt: Great for stir fries.

- Minced beef: Mostly mince is pan fried. Mince is good for making into meatballs or burgers, or using as part of a sauce.

- Stewing/braising steak: For braising and stewing (obviously!)

- Chuck: Absorbs marinades well and can be slow roasted. Also can cook in liquid.

- Flank: Best to braise or use in a casserole or stew. Thick flank is good for a pot roast.

Click here for an excellent guide to the different cuts of beef.

ROASTING:

The cut of beef is placed in a roasting tin and cooked in the center of the oven. Roasting is mainly used for larger cuts of beef where it takes longer to cook all of the way through. The heavier the cut of beef, the long you need to cook it for.

If you want to double check that it is cooked how you like it, you can use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the center of the cut (you need to reach 60°C for 'rare',70°C for 'medium' and 80°C for 'well done').

If possible keep the bone(s) in as bone conducts heat which helps cook the meat evenly, rather than being more cooked on the outside than the inside, plus it helps keep the moisture in the meat. Before putting into the oven, usually the meat can quickly be 'seared' all over in a hot frying pan to turn the outside surfaces brown and add flavour. Whilst roasting in the oven you can also try to retain more flavour by basting the meat regularly - to do this, simply pour the meat juices from the roasting tin back onto the meat at regular intervals a few times over the roasting period. Meat should always be left to 'rest' after cooking (for about 10 minutes) a well so it can reabsorb its juices before carving.

POT ROASTING & BRAISING:

Braising is the method of slow cooking meat in a pot of simmering liquid, and is ideal for cooking tougher/cheaper cuts of meat to make them tender. The meat is seared (browned) first in a pan without liquid ('dry heat') to add flavour. The liquid used for braising can be stock/wine/beer/water etc.

Pot roasting is a type of braising which involves cooking a large cut of meat in liquid (stock in this case) to make a one-pot meal. Vegetables and herbs are mixed in so that the whole meal is cooked in the single pot. The pot sits on the hob normally, or it can go in the oven, and a lid is kept on the pot to keep the moisture in. The amount of liquid only partly covers the meat.

STEWS & CASSEROLES:

Stews and casseroles are also slow cooking methods using liquid to cook the meat in, and are perfect for cooking cheaper cuts like chuck, shank and brisket which are much more susceptible to becoming tough and dry than more expensive cuts. The meat is diced in these cooking methods and submerged in liquid, with vegetables also in the pot.

The general consensus seems to be that casseroles are cooked in the oven in a casserole dish, and stews are cooked on the hob in a large pan/pot, although the terms are often used to mean the same thing.

GRILLING and BARBECUING:

Cooked on a grill, this cooking method is quite quick and is best for steaks and other smaller cuts. The meat is cooked for a certain amount on each side, depending on how 'done' you want it. It's approximately 1/2 minutes on each side for 'rare', 4/5 minutes per side for 'medium' and 5/6 for 'well done', but these times do depend on how thick the steak is. You can use the thumb test for checking how cooked a steak is.

PAN-FRYING:

Also called shallow frying, this technique is a fast way to cook small cuts of beef in a frying pan with a very small amount of hot butter/oil.

STIR-FRYING:

Probably the quickest method because only very thin strips of meat have to be cooked through. The meat is cooked in a very small amount of oil, and vegetables are mixed in to cook alongside the meat. A wok or a big frying pan is used.

MARINATING:

Marinating involves rubbing a mix of flavorings (herbs, oil, garlic etc) onto the surface of the meat to add more flavour. Best to use on steaks like sirloin.

Click here for 10 top tips for elevating the taste of your beef dishes.

ACCOMPANIMENTS:

- Yorkshire puddings are a classic addition to roast beef, as is gravy

- Steak can be served with salads or fries

- Winter and Autumn vegetables go well with beef, especially potatoes and parsnip

- Horseradish sauce (or mustard)

- If making a stir fry, green vegetables and oriental flavors go well with beef

Bone Shape Indicates Cooking Methods

A useful guide for figuring out what cooking methods you can use for which cuts of meat.
A useful guide for figuring out what cooking methods you can use for which cuts of meat. | Source

Videos About Beef

Different Cuts of Lamb

Plus handy cooking information.

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Suitable Cooking Methods for Lamb

Lamb is quite similar to beef in the ways it is cooked, with a choice of rare, medium or well done. You will usually find that lamb is cooked so it is slightly pink in the middle, and is less likely than beef to be served rare.

There are a lot of different cuts of lamb available, and there are also several ways you can cook it.

The main cuts you will see are:

- Leg: Roast whole for best results. You can also slow cook it, or cut it open (butterfly it) to grill/barbecue.

- Breast: Roasted or slow cooked.

- Rack of lamb: Roasted is best, and you'll often see that a 'crust' is added to the outside such as a herb crust. When a rack of lamb is sliced between the bones, the slices are called lamb cutlets (which can be pan-fried, grilled or barbecued individually).

- Shoulder: Slow cooked, either whole as a pot roast, or diced for stew.

- Saddle: Roast or pot roast.

- Rump Roast.

- Loin: Roast (or cut into chops for pan frying or grilling).

- Chops: Pan-fried, grilled or cooked on a BBQ. Good for adding a marinade.

- Fillet: Roast whole, or slice to make 'noisettes' which can be grilled or pan fried.

- Mince: Mostly mince is pan fried although it is usually grilled when made into burgers. Mince is good for making pies with (e.g. shepherd's pie), or using as part of a sauce.

- Neck: Slow cooked.

- Shank: Slow cooked, or roasted

- Flank: Slow cooked; best to braise or use in a casserole or stew. Thick flank is good for a pot roast.

Click here for guidelines on lamb cooking times.

Slow cooking refers to braising or pot roasting where the meat is cooked slowly in liquid for an extended period of time, or you can dice the meat and use it for a casserole or stew. See the above 'beef' section for more information on the cooking methods. Slow cooking means that even tougher cuts of meat can be tender, and this method means that the meat just falls of the bone. The liquid that the meat is cooked in is your choice, although it is often stock, with other choices including wine and tomato juice.

ROASTING:

Place the cut of lamb into a roasting tin and cook, often alongside vegetables, in the center of the oven. The most popular cut to oven roast is the leg as fat prevents it from drying out, and it's also a good choice if you wish to open it up ('butterfly' it) to add stuffing to the inside for extra flavour. Shoulder can also be stuffed. Another popular roasted cut is the rack of lamb. Leg or lamb shanks can also be marinated before roasting to add more flavor.

As with the beef, you can use a meat thermometer to determine how cooked the lamb is before removing from the heat. And remember to rest the meat for 10 or so minute after cooking too.

ACCOMPANIMENTS:

- Mint, usually added within a marinade, used in a mint gravy or added to the vegetables (like peas).

- Lamb steak can be served with salads or fries

- Mashed potato

- Herbs like rosemary (most common), tarragon or coriander

- Spices like cumin; lamb is popular in many different cuisines around the world

- Spring vegetables

- Yoghurt

- Tomato

As a side note, lamb is fattier than either beef or pork which makes it less prone to drying out whilst cooking, however for the health conscious try and fry off as much fat as you can.

Videos About Lamb

Different Cuts of Pork

Plus handy cooking information.

Source

Suitable Cooking Methods for Pork

Pork is my favourite meat, and unlike lamb and beef must be cooked thoroughly, so no rare/medium options here. And of course one of the best things about pork is the crackling!

There are a lot of different cuts of pork available, and there are also several ways you can cook it.

The main cuts you will see are:

- Leg: Roast whole for best results. You can also slow cook it.

- Bacon: Thin slices of meat which are grilled or pan fried. Back bacon (from the loin) is the most popular type, and streaky bacon (from the belly) is another option which has fat running through it. Pork joints can be wrapped in bacon rashers before roasting for added flavor.

- Belly: Roasted or slow cooked. Can be cut into slices (pork belly strips) to be grilled or barbecued, which are good for marinating.

- Shoulder: Roasted or slow cooked.

- Ribs: Roasted, grilled or barbecued. Perfect for marinating.

- Steaks & chops Grilled, pan fried or barbecued.

- Loin: Roasted whole (or cut into 'medallions' - slices - for pan frying).

- Fillet: Roasted, slow cooked, or thinly sliced into 'escalopes' which can be pan fried or grilled.

- Mince: Mostly mince is pan fried, and is good for making meatballs and other products.

- Neck: Roasted (especially slow roasted) or slow cooked.

- Ham & Gammon:: These are both cured meats, are both from the hind leg section of a pig and are both pink in color, even when cooked. The cuts can be roasted whole or slow cooked, and gammon steaks can also be pan-fried. Steaks can also be cubed or sliced to add extra flavour to a stir fry dish.

You can buy a variety of cooked hams, and these are most commonly used for carving cold slices from - for sandwiches for instance. Ham is pre-cooked and cured, and there are options for smoked or unsmoked hams as well as other methods of curing like sweet curing. Gammon is bought raw to cook yourself as a whole joint in the oven.

Ham and gammon are often glazed on the outside, with honey and mustard being a popular choice. Click here for a delicious gammon glaze recipe.

Click here for guidelines on pork cooking times.

Slow cooking refers to braising or pot roasting where the meat is cooked slowly in liquid for an extended period of time, or you can dice the meat and use it for a casserole or stew. See the 'beef' section for more information on the cooking methods.

Pork joints can also be slow roasted, which is where it is cooked for longer at a lower temperature (in the oven). Remember to leave pork to 'rest' for at least 10 minuted before carving.

Pork is fantastic for marinades.

ROASTING:

Put the pork joint in a roasting tin (often with vegetables too) and cook in the center of the oven. You can add a marinade before roasting, you can baste the meat at regular intervals during the cooking time, you can use the resulting meat juices after the meat has been cooked to make yummy gravy, or you can do none of the above - it's up to you!

As with other meats, you can use a meat thermometer to double check the pork is cooked properly, by making sure the internal temperature is at least 145 degrees.

Crackling is what is made when the pork skin is scored (and salt usually added) before oven roasting it. The skin bubbles up and cooks into a crunchy delicious treat. Can you tell I'm a fan?

You can also stuff some pork cuts including shoulder, fillet and loin.

ACCOMPANIMENTS:

- Applesauce

- Pineapple and/or poached egg with gammon

- BBQ sauce, especially with ribs

- Asian flavors

- Herbs such as sage, rosemary and thyme

- Spices such as ginger and nutmeg

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Videos About Pork

Different Cuts of Chicken & Turkey

It would actually save you money to buy a whole chicken or turkey and cut it up into the individual parts yourself, rather than buying each part individually. But of course this is only a good tip if you can make use of all the different parts.

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Suitable Cooking Methods for Chicken & Turkey

Chicken and turkey are 'white meats' and are very similar in shape and structure, so if you can joint a chicken, you will easily be able to joint a turkey. Always make sure that chicken/turkey is cooked thoroughly; no pink meat, and the juices should run clear.

The main cuts you will see are:

- Legs: Whole legs (i.e. not separated into drumsticks and thighs) can be roasted.

- Breast: Roasted, pan-fried, grilled, barbecued or slow cooked. You can buy breast with skin on or without, and it is a good cut for being marinated or stuffed. You can also butterfly the breast to make a thin slice.

- Thighs: Roasted or slow cooked.

- Drumsticks: Roast, grill or BBQ. Drumsticks are relatively cheap and are good for marinating.

- Wings: Roast, grill or BBQ. They are inexpensive, can be marinated and go crispy when cooked.

- Whole chicken: Roasted. Or you can spatchcock a chicken for a BBQ.

- Mince: You can buy chicken mince, but turkey mince is more common. Turkey mince is lower fat than the mince of other meats, and is a great healthy option.

ROASTING:

Click here to see how chicken is roasted. Before roasting a whole chicken, you can push a mix of ingredients underneath the skin to infuse flavors into the meat. Butter and herbs are a popular option. You can also partially fill the cavity of the bird (but leave space above the stuffing for hot air to circulate) with a classic breadcrumb-and-herb mix, or perhaps fruit. You can also stuff a chicken/turkey breast before cooking, often with cheese and herbs.

ACCOMPANIMENTS:

- Tomato

- Bacon

- Garlic

- Rosemary, basil, tarragon, thyme

- Paprika

Click here for 10 top tips for improving the way you cook chicken.

Top-Rated Meat Cooking Products

There are so many tools you can buy for making sure you cook meat just right every time, and here is a selection of my favorites:

Jaccard Supertendermatic 48-Blade Tenderizer
Jaccard Supertendermatic 48-Blade Tenderizer

An affordable tool which is worth it's weight in gold because it helps breaks up the connective tissue in cheaper cuts of meat to make them much more tender - just as tender as more expensive cuts! Also great for encouraging marinades to soak into meat.

 
Weston Burger Express Hamburger Press with Patty Ejector (07-0310-W)
Weston Burger Express Hamburger Press with Patty Ejector (07-0310-W)

This burger press lets you make perfect patties quickly.

 
CDN DT450X ProAccurate Instant-Read Waterproof Pocket Thermometer,Black
CDN DT450X ProAccurate Instant-Read Waterproof Pocket Thermometer,Black

Perfect for the king of the grill to have on hand at all times!

 

Chicken & Turkey Videos

Peppercorn Beef Steak

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    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 6 years ago

      another great informative lens! nicely done

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      jctatum 6 years ago

      Nice lens!

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      CoolFoto 6 years ago

      very helpful!

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      kt_glasses 6 years ago

      yummy lens! Love it!

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      love this lens..have to try some..www.squidoo.com/perfect-cookbook

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      LissaKlar LM 6 years ago

      Thanks! I needed to know how to cook a whole chicken - big help - it was great!!

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      desdemony 6 years ago

      Great lens, very helpful. Thumbs up and I added this one to my lensroll. :)

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      RomeSal 6 years ago

      very well illustrated indeed - good information and resource. Thank you!

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      carlajo73 6 years ago

      WOW! Very informative! Great job!!

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      elenangel 6 years ago

      Your lens is a great helpful to me :)

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      elenangel 6 years ago

      what a yummy Roast chicken Recipes I will try this menu. Nice posting.

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      wayne_luvinlife 5 years ago

      Wow! it all looks so good, couple I will have to try. Thanks for the info

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      quicpost 5 years ago

      Learned a lot from your lens. Thanks.

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      RecipePublishing 5 years ago

      These looked so savory.

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      2jesters 5 years ago

      You offer some neat and different way to prepare meat. For barbecued ribs, check out my lens Lip-Smacking Good Barbecued Ribs Thanks.

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      Philipuk1983 5 years ago

      lots of useful info, thanks :-)

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      Jim Sterling 5 years ago from Franklin, Tennessee

      Thank you, very helpful for dinner tonight.

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      Fiona 5 years ago from South Africa

      Really a great lens - you have certainly put a lot of effort into this lens - blessed

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      E L Seaton 5 years ago from Virginia

      Wowwww! This lense had meat. Lots of it! Great job putting this together.

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      electro35 lm 5 years ago

      amazing contentâ¦.

    • electro35 lm profile image

      electro35 lm 5 years ago

      amazing contentâ¦.

    • ErnestBoehm profile image

      ErnestBoehm 5 years ago

      nice page about meat. Very good page

    • DeannaDiaz profile image

      DeannaDiaz 5 years ago

      Great, practical advice!

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      Cheap-Divorce 5 years ago

      Love your meat cooking advice and the bone chart is really useful. Thanks for sharing

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      Auntiekatkat 5 years ago

      Excellent lens

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Yes, I agree excellent lens.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thanks, I love your recipes.

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      ViJuvenate 4 years ago

      Terrific primer on on the basics of cooking meat - one of my personal favorite food groups!

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