Cooking tip #1: Understand your cuts

First things first: The tenderness and juiciness of beef is influenced by the cut. The more muscle in the meat, the tougher it will be. Likewise, the more fat, the juicier.

The most tender cuts of beef are (in decreasing order): tenderloin steak, top blade steak, top loin sirloin, rib roast, rib steak, and rib eye steak. And keep in mind that beef with a bone-in will have more flavour.

Cooking tip #2: Match quality to purpose

If you are cooking beef simply, without heavy sauces, choose the best grade of meat possible. For stews or meals featuring sauces, you can opt for less expensive cuts.

Cooking tip #3: Get the grade

There are three grades of beef: prime, choice and quality-select. Grade is determined by marbling — the amount of fat imbedded in beef that keeps it moist. The most tender beef will have marbling throughout and not just on the outer edges.

Marbling is important because once you cook beef, the fat will begin to melt and add flavor and juiciness. Prime is the most highly marbled with fat as well as the most tender and tasty.

Cooking tip #4: Buy brightly coloured

Make sure your beef is fairly firm and is a bright red colour. If beef is a darker red to brown, it may be older. And though properly-aged beef will be more tender, most grocery stores do not carry aged beef.

Cooking tip #5: Keep beef fresh

As soon as you get your beef home, if you are not cooking it that day, remove it from the butcher paper and wrap it in plastic wrap. Then place it in a zip-lock bag and keep it refrigerated.

Cooking tip #6: Marinate for added flavour

To prepare beef for cooking, wipe it with a clean damp cloth and consider a simple marinade. Marinating meat can help add tenderness and flavour — but remember that good quality beef won’t need a lot of extra flavour to taste good.

Even just a generous sprinkle of salt and black pepper can be enough. However, a mixture of wine, olive oil, lemon juice, and a few fresh herbs and spices can be a great overnight marinade to help tenderize.

Cooking tip #7: Cook evenly

Before you cook your beef, remove it from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. This will ensure that it cooks more evenly because it will be the same temperature throughout.

Cooking tip #8: Be temperature-wise

How you cook your beef will have a major influence on tenderness and juiciness. For most cuts of beef, you should cook it to an internal temperature of 130 degrees F. for rare and 140 degrees F. for medium-cooking meat.

Any higher than medium will be dry. Use a meat thermometer to get accurate internal temperatures.

Cooking tip #9: Sear, then roast

A good method for cooking tender cuts of beef is to sear the outside in a hot, lightly oiled cast iron or heavy bottomed skillet and then finish it in a 400 degree F. oven.

While cooking, only flip the beef once and always use tongs to flip, not a fork. If the meat is cut into, all of the juices will immediately run out.

Cooking tip #10: Let it rest

Remove beef from the oven and let it rest for at least 5 minutes before cutting. You want the juices to settle and distribute before serving.

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Cooking tip #1: Use a brine

Grilled chicken, especially boneless, skinless breast, benefits greatly from a brine. The salt in the water rearranges the proteins in the meat, allowing it to retain more water, so it stays juicy when on the grill. The general brine recipe is 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon sugar for every 1 cup of water. You can also add herbs and spices if you desire. But don’t brine your chicken for too long, or it might get rubbery — 2 to 3 hours brining in the fridge should do.

Cooking tip #2: Pound it out

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts tend to get thinner on the sides with a big hump in the middle. This can cause them to cook unevenly, leaving the edges, top and bottom dry by the time the inside is cooked through. Place your chicken breasts in between two pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound them until they are evenly thick. This way, they’ll cook evenly and more quickly on the grill.

Cooking tip #3: Cut it down to size

If you’re making kebabs, it’s important to keep your chicken chunks the same size. Try to make the chunks around 1 1/2 inches each, and when you thread the skewer, make each piece of meat touch the one next to it. This will ensure that when the skewers are on the grill, these small pieces of chicken won’t overcook.

Cooking tip #4: Try dark meat

Chicken breast is a favorite, but don’t turn down your nose at dark meat. These days, it’s just as easy to find boneless, skinless chicken thighs, and sometimes you can find boneless legs, too. Dark meat chicken is more flavorful, and because it contains more connective tissue, it gets juicier than chicken breast when you cook it.

Cooking tip #5: Marinate, grill, baste

Saucy grilled chicken is delicious, but if you put the sauce on too soon, it can burn. Instead, you should marinate or brine your chicken, scrape off any excess marinade, then grill as usual. A few minutes before the chicken is done, start basting it with sauce, turning the meat frequently until it’s cooked through.

Cooking tip #6: Clean your grill

A dirty grill does not give you more flavorful food, no matter what you might hear. Chicken tends to stick to all those burned-on bits, so for best results, clean your grill before you start cooking. Once your grill grate is scraped clean, use a pair of tongs to wipe a lightly oiled piece of paper towel over the grate to keep things from sticking.

Cooking tip #7: Use high and low heat

It’s always a good idea to use two-zone cooking when you grill. If you have a multi-burner gas grill, it’s easy: keep one burner hot and the other on low. With charcoal, build a bigger bed of coals on one side and a smaller one on the other. This way, if your chicken starts to get too dark before it’s done, you can move it to the cooler side of the grill to finish cooking.

Cooking tip #8: Cover it up

Keeping your grill covered is the best way to keep your chicken moist. Closing the cover will trap the heat in the grill so your meat cooks from all sides. This will help it cook faster, meaning that there’s less chance it will get dry.

Cooking tip #9: Check the temp

The best way to tell if chicken is done is by checking its internal temperature. Sometimes the outside might look done, but you’ve still got pink chicken within. Use a probe thermometer to make sure the meat is 165 degrees Fahrenheit before you remove it from the grill. Remember, if it’s not quite there yet, you can move the chicken from the hot part of the grill to the cooler part to finish cooking.

Cooking tip #10: Be safe

Whenever you’re cooking chicken, it’s important to remain vigilant about cross-contamination. For instance, if you use your tongs to place the raw chicken on the grill, make sure you wash them or use a different pair to touch the cooked chicken. Wash your hands every time you’ve touched raw chicken or any plate or tool that’s touched raw chicken. Likewise, don’t place cooked chicken on the same plate or platter that your raw chicken was on. By taking care to make sure nothing comes in contact with raw chicken, you’ll ensure that everyone has a safe and fun barbecue.

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Cooking tip #1: Use fresh cuts

Avoid freezing whenever possible to eliminate moisture loss that occurs during thawing. The moisture loss in thawing results in less tender meat.

Cooking tip #2: Do not overcook

Do not overcook pork or it will become dry and tough. The threat of trichinosis is eliminated when the pork is heated to 137°F but the USDA recommends cooking pork to 145°F to be safe. Cooking to 145°F will result in clear or slightly pink tinted juices and provides meat that is juicy and tender.

Cooking tip #3: Correct Cuts

Cutting meat across the grain will produce slices with shorter fibers, resulting in more tender pieces.

Cooking tip #4: Lock in moisture

When frying or sautéing, do not place a cover over the pan. This will lock in moisture and cause the meat to braise or steam.

Cooking tip #5: Season and oil

Before roasting pork, sear all sides to create a flavorful crusty surface on the meat. Lightly coat pork with vegetable oil to keep it from drying out during cooking.

Cooking tip #6: Space is key

Do not overcrowd pork cuts when cooking. Leaving space between them will allow them to brown and cook more evenly.

Cooking tip #7: Marinades

If using a marinade for basting, set some aside before placing raw pork in it to marinate. Never reuse marinade that the meat was marinated in.

Cooking tip #8: Perfect Sausages

Poach uncooked sausages for a few minutes before frying, broiling or grilling. Sausage casings should not be pierced before poaching. Piercing will cause the juices to be released and sausages will become dry.

Cooking tip #9: Cook until done

Do not partially cook pork and then store in refrigerator to use later. It must be cooked until done. It can be partially cooked or browned using one method, such as microwaving or searing, and then immediately cooked until done using a different method, such as roasting, frying, grilling or broiling.

Cooking tip #10: Leave to rest

Let meat rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving to allow juices to be distributed throughout the flesh.

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Cooking tip #1: Know what to look for

Cuts of lamb may vary in color from pink to light red but should always look fresh, not dull or slimy. The fat should be white and waxy looking. The bones should be reddish in color and moist.

Cooking tip #2: Go bone-in for flavor. Boneless is easier to carve

Choosing a bone-in or boneless cut of meat is entirely up to you and depends on personal preference. While it’s a little trickier to carve, I love bone-in because it has more flavor. Either way, though, you can season a leg of lamb with your favorite herbs and spices, inside and out.

Cooking tip #3: Take it out of the fridge

If you have time, take the lamb from the fridge about 15 minutes before cooking. This helps the lamb roast cook evenly. If you like medium rare meat it’s a good idea to do this.

Cooking tip #4: There’s no need to marinate it

One of the roles of a marinade is to help break down fibers in tougher cuts of meat. And since leg of lamb is a naturally tender cut of meat, it doesn’t need it. In fact, marinating this cut could actually make it more tough. Stick with a simple seasoning of herbs, garlic, and mustard, or your favorite spice rub.

Cooking tip #5: Keep it Moist

To prevent lean cuts from drying out while cooking, the meat may be rubbed with oil prior to roasting and/or basted with pan juices during roasting.

Cooking tip #6: Keep the surface dry

When sautéing lamb, it is important that the meat surface is dry so that when it is placed into the pan, it browns rather than steams.

Cooking tip #7: Trimming any extra fat

Although the fat keeps the meat moist and tender during the roasting process, it can be trimmed before serving because it is not very flavorful and is actually quite unpleasant after it has cooled.

Cooking tip #8: Lamb is good rare to well-done. So know what you like

Cooks have strong opinions about how well-done their lamb should be. Some prefer it very rare; others want it well-done throughout. Leg of lamb is tender and juicy and will be good along a wide spectrum of doneness. So know what you like and prefer and use this chart to achieve the results you want.

Cooking Times for Lamb
Roasting Temperature: 325°F

  • Rare: 125°F (about 15 minutes per pound)
  • Medium-Rare: 130°F to 135°F (about 20 minutes per pound)
  • Medium: 135°F to 140°F (about 25 minutes per pound)
  • Well-Done: 155°F to 165°F (about 30 minutes per pound)

Cooking tip #9: Let the meat rest after cooking

Like all other cuts of meat, it’s important to let the roasted leg of lamb rest for about 20 minutes after coming out of the oven. This lets the juices redistribute back into the meat instead of running all over the platter or cutting board.

Cooking tip #10: Always slice the meat against the grain.

You’ve cooked a beautiful piece of meat, now it’s just as important that you slice it correctly. Lamb should always be sliced against the grain to get the most tender slices.

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