★ HOW TO Cook Meat - Recipes for Beef | Pork | Lamb | Chicken | Turkey ★
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
Best Meat Cookbooks
Here are some top-rated books that are definitely enough to make any carnivore salivate!
Different Cuts of Beef
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!
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.
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 60Â°C for 'rare',70Â°C for 'medium' and 80Â°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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
- 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
Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book
Bone Shape Indicates Cooking Methods
Best Beef Recipes - The Best Way To Learn Is To Practice
- Roast Beef
And Yorkshire Puddings.
- Sirloin Steak
With Chunky Chips.
- Beef Wellington
Using beef fillet.
- LOADS of Beef Recipes
Categorised by the type of cut.
- Highest Rated Beef Recipes
Top rated by testers.
- Pot Roast Beef with Gravy
Beef is always better with a really good gravy!
- Sesame Beef Stir Fry
- Beef Tenderloin
With a Salt Crust.
- Beef Gravy
A perfect accompaniment.
- Stuffed Beef Tenderloin
Has a great rating.
- Peppercorn and Garlic Pan-Fried Beef
Straightforward pan frying recipe.
- Braised Beef
With red wine and cranberry.
- Classic Beef Casserole
Using braising steak.
- Grilled Marinated Beef
With caramelised onions.
- How to Cook a Perfect Steak
Technique for recognising if a steak is rare, medium or well done.
- Roasting the Perfect Prime Rib
Experiment to find out the best way.
- How to Grill Almost Anything
Not just beef, but vegetables and other meats too.
- Cook a Perfect Steak
Timings and what to look for when buying.
- How to Braai Meat
Tutorial on cooking meat the South African way.
- How to Cook 101
How to cook many basics from beef steaks to pork chops.
Videos About Beef
Different Cuts of Lamb
Plus handy cooking information.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
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.
Best Lamb Recipes - Some Tasty Examples Of Cooking Different Cuts Of Lamb
- Leg of Lamb
With Shrewsbury sauce.
- Rosemary Leg of Lamb
With pot-roasted turnips.
- Collection of Recipes
Categorised by the cut of lamb.
- Roast Shoulder of Lamb
Tender lamb with herbs and honey.
- Roast Leg of Lamb
With rosemary and red wine sauce.
- Braised Lamb Shanks
With crushed herb potatoes.
- Lots of Lamb Recipes
From BBC Good Food.
- Spicy Lamb Curry
Using shoulder of lamb.
- Slow Cooked Lamb
With onions and thyme.
- Pan Fried Lamb Cutlets
With peas, new potatoes and broad beans.
- Braised Lamb Shanks
With parsley and mint gremolata.
- Lamb Stew
With Rosemary Dumplings
- Grilled Lamb
Using a butterflied leg of lamb.
- Marinated Lamb Chops
Easy recipe that is 5 star rated.
- Rack of Lamb
With a marinade.
- Roasted Rack of Lamb
With a herb crust.
- Pot Roast Lamb
- Lamb Kebabs
Serves 2-4 people.
- Lamb Meatballs
Top rated recipe from Nigella Lawson.
- Lamb With Rosemary & Port
Delicious and uncomplicated recipe.
Videos About Lamb
Different Cuts of Pork
Plus handy cooking information.
- AMAZING Page on Cuts of Pork
Including how each cut can be cooked, and recipes for each.
- Very Useful Chart
With photos of every cut, and suitable cooking methods.
- Descriptions Of The Different Cuts
With suggested recipes.
- Pork Cooking Guide
Cooking methods for each cut of pork explained in photos.
- Pork Cooking Times
Temperatures and times for oven cooking and grilling different cuts.
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!
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.
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.
- 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
Best Pork Recipes
- Herb Stuffed Roast Pork
As seen in the photo above.
- Roast Loin of Pork
With crackling and cider gravy.
- Slow Roasted Belly of Pork
With sticky honey glaze.
- Big List of Pork Recipes
With a helpful star ratings system.
- Collection of Pork Recipes
A wide range of recipes for a wide range of tastes and skills.
- Roast Rack of Pork
Slow roasted pork - with crackling (my favourite part!)
- More Yummy Recipes
From sticky ribs to pork pie.
- Apple Sauce
Goes so well with pork.
- Sticky Chinese Ribs
Pork goes great with oriental flavours.
- Ham and Peas Pudding Broth
Top rated dish with gammon.
- Sausages with Gravy
Rich red onion gravy to be precise :-)
- Pork Recipes
by Jamie Oliver
- Upside-Down Hotpot
- Lots more Pork Recipes
You're spoiled for choice!
- Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
How to stuff a fillet with apricots, apples and ginger.
- Perfect Pork Chops
- Ham In Coca-Cola
Unusual way to braise ham.
- Cidered Pork Stew
With light herb dumplings.
- Roast Pork With Crackling
Roast loin of pork with smooth gravy.
- Pork Cutlets
With a sweet mustard crust.
- BBQ Pork Necks
The 'poor man's ribs'.
- Pork Escalopes
Healthy meal with apple slices.
- Perfect Pulled Pork
How to make pork that just melts in your mouth.
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.
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.
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.
- Rosemary, basil, tarragon, thyme
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:
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.
This burger press lets you make perfect patties quickly.
Perfect for the king of the grill to have on hand at all times!
Best Chicken & Turkey Recipes
- Chicken & Potato Curry
By Slimming World.
- Slow Roast Chicken
A foolproof recipe
- Roast Chicken
- Chicken Recipes
Sorted by rating too.
- Butterflied Chicken
With honey and citrus.
- Stuffed Chicken
With herby marscapone.
- Chicken Breasts
Stuffed with sage and mustard.
- Pot Roast Chicken
With potatoes, bacon, garlic and thyme.
- Lemon-Garlic Chicken
Flavorful chicken herb rub.
- Pot Roast Turkey
Using turkey leg.
- Roast Turkey
- Turkey Stir Fry
- Pan Fried Turkey Escalopes
With citrus honey sauce.
- Turkey Bolognese
With a tomato sauce.
- Chicken Pasties
Pies that make a neat snack.
- Chicken and Leek Pie
An Irish recipe.
- Baked Buttermilk Chicken
With a herb crust.
- Sticky Chicken Drumsticks
With lemon and honey.
- Sticky Chicken Wings
With soy, honey and ginger.
- Smoked Turkey Breast Roast
With honey maple glaze.
- Braised Turkey Drumsticks
With soy and five spice.