Let’s face it; the UK is a nation of meat eaters. If we are not tucking into bacon sandwiches on a cold morning, then we are preparing for next Sunday’s roast, or the Fajitas and Steak we are going to eat midweek; and if we aren’t at home, then we are probably in a restaurant where eight out of ten dishes on the menu have some kind of meat in them.
So for a nation so in love with meat, why is it that most of us don’t know how to cook a decent steak, or for that matter even select a decent cut of meat to cook?
It’s a real shame that we don’t have as many butchers as we used too anymore. The meat they stock is generally always fresher, higher quality and cheaper. Unfortunately the advent of super and hyper markets has taken away a lot of the butchers’ trade. On the flip side, when you do find a butchers you can almost guarantee that if it has survived the advent of the supermarket then it is probably a good one.
Selecting a Good Cut
So how do you select a good cut of meat from your butcher’s? Well firstly, if you don’t know anything, asks the butcher; that’s what they are there for and they are always more than happy to help. Just tell them what you plan to do with the meat and they will give you some great advice.
If you know what meat you are after then there are some key characteristics to look for in a good cut. Firstly your meat should look relatively dry; if it looks wet then it probably hasn’t been hung for long enough and will subsequently lose a lot of juices when it is cooked. The process of hanging meat is to help the muscle fibres in the cut to begin to break down and in turn makes the meat more tender and suited to cooking.
Red meats should have a deep red and purplish colour to them and have an evenly marbled effect with a good layer of fat on top. Even with white meats like pork they should have a good layer of fat on top as this helps to hold moisture in when it is being cooked. There is of course and an exception to this rule when choosing lean cuts.
The meat you choose should also have been naturally or grass fed and should be free range. If this isn’t advertised on the meats label then again ask your butcher.
Follow these basic rules and you shouldn’t go far wrong.
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