"Kusina" = Kitchen; "Manang" = older sister

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Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Beef Cuts and Methods of Cooking

When my hubby's family had one of their cattles slaughtered for our own consumption, suddenly I had a freezer-full of various beef cuts - ground, soup bone, steaks (minute, cube, top round, rib eye, porterhouse, tenderloin, T-bone) and roasts (rib eye, chuck, sirloin, etc.). We did not have cuts for stewing, though. My husband did not care for them. (But next time, I will ask that we have them, too. )
I panicked at the time...I had to learn how to cook which cut. As usual, the internet came to the rescue. Click on this post's title to see the fully-illustrated beef cut chart.

Beef.org have these as tips for home-storage of beef:

Refrigerate or freeze beef as soon after purchasing as possible.

(If it will take longer than 30 minutes to get it home, keep it cold

in a cooler in your car.)

If refrigerating beef, place it in the meat compartment or in the

coldest part of the refrigerator.

If purchased beef is wrapped in transparent film, it can be refrigerated

without re-wrapping. It can also be frozen up to 2 weeks without

rewrapping. For longer freezer storage, to prevent freezer burn,

repackage in heavy-duty aluminum foil, freezer paper or plastic

freezer bags, removing as much air as possible.

Label and date frozen beef packages, including weight and/or

number of servings. Practice the FIFO inventory system

- first in, first out.

Do not defrost frozen beef at room temperature. Defrost frozen beef

in the refrigerator, to prevent bacterial growth. Place package on

a tray to catch any drippings and place in refrigerator the day

before it is needed.

Allow about 24 hours to defrost a 1 to 1-1/2-inch thick package of

ground beef or beef pieces.

Allow 12 hours to defrost 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick patties.

Allow 12 to 24 hours to defrost steaks, depending on thickness.

Allow 4 to 7 hours per pound to defrost large oven roasts or thick

compact pot roasts.

Allow 3 to 5 hours per pound to defrost small oven roasts or thin

pot roasts.

Cook ground beef as soon as possible after defrosting.

Refrigerate leftovers promptly after serving, within 2 hours

after cooking. To speed up the chilling, divide large quantities into

smaller portions or spread food out in shallow container.

Remember that ground beef, beef for stir-fry, beef for stew and beef for kabobs are more perishable than whole muscle cuts (roasts and steaks). During the grinding process for ground beef, any bacteria on the surface are mixed throughout. Cutting into strips or cubes creates more exposed surface area for bacteria to grow on. Both processes result in shorter shelf life.

And further has these beef-cooking tips:

Cooking Basics


Getting It Ready

Follow these smart handling tips when preparing beef.

Leave a thin layer of fat on steaks and roasts during cooking to preserve juiciness. Trim fat after cooking.

Pat steaks, cubes and pot roasts dry with paper toweling for better browning.

To make cutting into strips for stir-frying easier, partially freeze beef to firm.

Salt beef after cooking or browning. Salt draws out moisture and inhibits browning.


Keep It Clean

To avoid cross-contamination and prevent foodborne illness, follow these easy steps.

Wash hands well in hot soapy water before and after handling meat and other fresh foods.

Keep raw meat and meat juices from coming into contact with other foods, both in the refrigerator and during preparation.

Wash all utensils, cutting surfaces and counters with hot soapy water after contact with raw meat.

Keep carving boards separate from other food preparation or serving boards.


Equipment Basics

Having the basics and knowing when to use them can make all the difference.

Choose pans that are thick enough to heat evenly without scorching.

Size matters! For best results, use the pan size specified in the recipe. If the pan is too small and beef is crowded, browning will be inhibited. If the pan is too large, overcooking may result.

Nonstick pans are easier to clean and they allow cooking with less fat.

When cooking with acidic ingredients, use pans with a non-reactive interior surface, such as nonstick, anodized aluminum and stainless steel. Reactive metals such as aluminum and cast iron can affect the taste and color of dishes with acidic ingredients.

Place beef on a rack in the broiler or roasting pan to allow fat to drip away during cooking.

Use an oven thermometer to verify that your oven is accurate.


Adding the Heat

The key to successful beef cookery? Choose an appropriate method for the cut you have selected.

For tender cuts, dry heat methods such as grilling, pan-broiling, broiling, oven roasting and stir-frying are best. Undercover cooking methods – braising, pot roasting, stewing – use moist heat and are better choices for less tender cuts. For quick easy reference, see our table below.

Once you have selected a cooking method, follow these helpful tips for tender, juicy, flavorful beef dishes.

High heat can overcook or char the outside of beef cuts while the interior remains underdone. For tender beef, cooked to the desired doneness, use medium-high heat for stir-frying, medium heat with all other dry heat cookery methods and low heat for moist heat methods.

Turn steaks and roasts with tongs, not with a fork. A fork pierces the beef, allowing flavorful juices to be lost.

Turn ground beef patties with a spatula. Do not press patties. Pressing causes the loss of flavorful juices and results in a dry burger.

Cooking times in our recipes and timetables are based on beef taken directly from the refrigerator.

Cooking times for gas and electric ranges are comparable. However, since individual ranges perform differently, it is important for you to become familiar with your own range.

Grilling times in our recipes and timetables are based on charcoal grilling. Because gas grill brands vary greatly, it is best to consult your owners manual for gas grilling guidelines.

Although I don't buy beef from the grocery store, some Filipina readers might find the following info from USDA useful:

Each USDA beef quality grade is a measure of a distinct level of quality -- and it takes eight grades to span the range. They are USDA Prime, Choice, Select, Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter, and Canner.

USDA Prime, Choice, Select, and Standard grades come from younger beef. The highest grade, USDA Prime, is used mostly by hotels and restaurants, but a small amount is sold at retail markets. The grade most widely sold at retail is USDA Choice. However, consumer preference for leaner beef has increased the popularity of the Select grade of beef. Select grade can now be found at most meat counters.

Standard and Commercial grade beef frequently is sold as ungraded or as "brand name" meat.

The three lower grades -- USDA Utility, Cutter, and Canner -- are seldom, if ever, sold at retail but are used instead to make ground beef and manufactured meat items such as frankfurters.

My favorite websites for beef recipes are http://www.cabprogram.com/food/recipes.html and

http://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/recipes/default.asp .

Enjoy your beef!

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