COOKING: SOME COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q. What is meant by the term braising when cooking?
A. Braising is the use of moist heat to cook a less tender cut of meat. Adding no less than a half inch of water or your favorite liquid such as a broth and cover the container. Maintain a temperature of 325 - 350 degrees F
Q. Is braising done on the stovetop or in the oven?
A. Braising of meat can be can be done in a covered heavy pot or skillet either on top of the stove or in the over.
Q. Is browning the meat prior to braising required?
A. The meat can be browned on both sides if desired. A seasoned flour can be patted on each side of the meat. This browning will add some flavor and color. Finish cooking with moisture in oven or on the stove top.
Q. When braising meat, is covering the pan required?
A. Yes. This lid will keep the steam produced from the liquid in the pan and this steam will soften the connective tissue of the meat making it more tender. when the meat becomes fork tender, it is done.
Q. What is broiling of meat?
A. Broiling is the use of dry heat to cook meat. This method is best used to cook the more tender cuts of steaks and/or chops.
Q. Can any piece of meat be broiled?
A. Not just any cut of meat but the more tender steak or chop cuts broil best. However, some less tender cuts of beef like a flank steak or a top round london broil can be after marinating them.
Q. What is pan broiling?
A. Pan broiling is using a pan or skillet on top of the stove to cook the steak or chop without the use of liquid. Medium high to high is recommended temperature setting.
Q. Does the thickness of the meat make a difference?
A. Yes. When broiling in the oven the meat needs to be ¾ inch to 1 ¼ inch thick. However when pan broiling we recommend ½ inch to ¾ inch.
Q. What is stir frying?
A. Cooking thin slices of meat quickly in a skillet with a small amount of oil on top of the stove using medium high heat. Meat ¼ inch by ¼ inch approximately 3 inches in length is ideal. Add quick cooking vegetables and your favorite seasoning when meat is close to being done.
Q. What is roasting?
A. Roasting is the cooking of an uncovered piece of meat in an oven or similar appliance.
Q. What meat is best for roasting?
A. Use some of the more tender cuts such as beef rib (boneless or bone in), top round, sirloin tip, pork loin and fresh ham. Lamb as well as veal leg and shoulder cuts also roast well. Remember you should use a piece of meat that weighs more that 2 ½ lb.
Q. Should a rack be used when roasting?
A. Yes and no. The purpose of the rack is to keep the meat out of the drippings as the meat cooks and to allow air air to circulate around the roast. So, yes a rack is needed unless the meat has bones in it. Bones will raise the meat off the bottom of the pan and allow air to circulate around the meat.
Q. Should I cover the roast while it cooks?
A. No. Covering the pan with foil, or wrapping the roast with foil, or using a cooking bag is actually braising. Because we are using some of the more tender cuts, braising is not needed. Also, the browning of the exterior of the meat adds flavor to the roast.
Q. Should I season the meat before or after roasting?
A. This is personal preference. I personally like to season the meat the night before. I will rub the spices all over, cover the meat with plastic and place in the refrigerator. Be sure to unwrap prior to placing meat in oven.
Q. At what temperature should I roast meat?
A. Some feel that the oven should be set at a high, 375 - 400 degrees F for 15 - 30 minutes. Less time for a smaller roast. This higher temperature helps ‘seal” the outside to help hold the juices in. However, this high temperature will cause more cooking losses. We recommend roasting at 250 degrees F - 325 degrees F. The larger the roast, the lower the temperature. This lower temperature helps cook the meat at a slower rate and more uniform throughout. An over 8 pound roast needs this lower temperature to cook evenly.
Q. What is the difference between thermostat and thermometer?
A. A meat thermometer registers the temperature of the roast. The thermostat controls the oven temperature. Knowing that both are accurate is very important. You will need to know that the temperature the thermostat is set at is the oven temperature. The thermometer will also let you know how done the meat is.
Q. How do I know when the roast is ready to be removed from the over?
A. First you will need to decide how done you want it Following are some guidelines. Remember the more done the roast the dryer the roast as more moisture will be cooked out of the meat.
Rare 125 - 130 degrees F
Medium Rare 130 - 140 degrees F
Medium 140 - 150 degrees F
Medium well 150 - 155 degrees F
Well over 160 degrees F
You will need a stick thermometer, placing it into the center of the roast. Be sure that the end of the thermometer is not touching any bones. Bones will conduct heat faster than whole muscle meat. You will want to remove the roast from the oven when your thermometer registers about 7 - 10 degrees less than your desired final temperature. After the roast is removed from oven, place it (still in roasting pan) on counter top, cover with foil or maybe a clean cloth for 10 - 15 minutes. The roast will continue to increase in temperature the 7 - 10 degrees needed to reach your desired final temperature. This also helps the meat hold onto more juice -- thus making for a juicier cut of meat.
Q. How long do I cook this roast?
A. As we all know oven temperature will vary from oven to oven. And then to make things more confusing the roast size and type will affect the time. Also, does the roast have bones or is it boneless? These all affect the time. And don’t forget the beginning temperature of the piece of meat. But, with that said, a good rule of thumb that I like to use is 35 minutes per pound in a 275 degree F oven for an internal temperature of 150 degrees F.
Remember that the lower the oven temperature the less browning of the roast. The browning of the outside of the roast will change the flavor slightly. If you desire this than raise the temperature to 375 for the first 45 - 60 minutes and then drop the oven temperature to the 275.
Remember from your school day science class that water boils at 212 degree F. So why cook the roast at a high temperature and boil all the water (juice) out of the meat?
We have attached a link to a roasting chart that you may feel of benefit.
Remember, please feel free to post comments and questions.