Lesson #33: You Need To Cook Meat To Learn How To Cook It

I recently decided to start to try and cook versus baking. I have cookies down to a science but one type of food has always been intimidating to me–meat. With different types of cuts, temperatures, and methods of cooking, sometimes it seems easier to just go ahead and head for takeout. I am here to tell you that nobody has perfectly cooked something the first time around. In order to learn how to cook meat, you have to go ahead and cook it.

Follow A Recipe

When you are first learning how to cook a piece of meat, always follow a recipe. When I say recipe, I mean the most basic recipe that you can find. While having 17 different spices and that sprig of rosemary on top is cool and brag-worthy, it will often cause more meat anxiety than it is worth. Pinterest is my go-to for easy recipe ideas. Mainly, because I can type in “easy (insert meat here) recipes” and–Bam! Over 300 recipes.

Don’t Follow The Recipe–Know Your People Count

If you find a recipe that you really like, but it is from I Cook For Twelve Kids.com, the recipe might be too big for you. If you are looking for a dinner for a smaller number, remember to cut the recipe down. You can still cook those famous BBQ ribs for a family picnic–minus the family.

Use What You Already Have

In following the words of Barefoot Contessa, “Store bought is fine.” If you find a recipe that is calling for a particular brand of spice, meat, pan, etc, do not put too much weight to it. Many recipes are sponsored by particular brands and the recipe will recommend only items from that brand. This will not only NOT effect the recipe but most likely save your bank account. While that butter in the fancy gold wrapper might seem “better”, that off brand will probably taste the same. If it doesn’t and this advice ruins your meat, use the extra money you saved to buy some ice cream and reflect on life choices!(but seriously if you can taste the difference between different kinds of butter, apply to every Food Network cooking show).

meat-tenderizer-502926_1920Beat and Season

The first piece of meat I cooked I underseasoned which cooked into a disappointing bland roast. One thing I forgot to do when cooking was to give my meat a good beating. A meat tenderizer is your best friend when seasoning. Also called a “meat hammer”, this helps the seasoning really “get into” the meat and make sure your seasoning doesn’t fall off when cooking. There are different sizes of meat tenderizers and the type varies with the type of meat. Do some research and see what is right for what you’re cooking. Again, do not buy that special ergonomic, chef quality, titanium one. You’re going to be beating meat, not building a house. A cheap one is fine.

When in Doubt, Have Some Yummy Gravy

Sometimes your meat just won’t turn out as delicious as you would like it. An easy fix, make delicious gravy or juice. While my roast was bland my gravy was delicious and when drizzled over my meat, helped add to the flavor. You can easily find a pre-made mixture of gravy in a jar, ready to heat up, or powder form where you add some type of liquid. I have personally had more success with pre-made jar mixtures than powder forms but that is just my preference. A negative about pre-made mixtures in a jar is that they often have a shorter shelf life versus their powder brethren.

Do you have more questions about cooking meat? Want me to answer some cooking questions? Have an article idea? Please leave a comment below!

-NYL

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