Tips for cooking beef:
When selecting a marinade look for flavor that will compliment the food you are marinating. A tenderizing marinade contains a food acid, such as citrus juices, vinegar, vinaigrettes, salsa and wine. Marinades also typically contain some kind of oil. Olive oil is my particular favorite. In fact the best oil to use is a light oil containing mono- and/or diglycerides. These natural emulsifiers help penetrate meats faster than other oils, so check the labels for a good marinade oil. The oil also serves to hold in moisture on meats and to reduce the moisture loss during cooking. Finish the marinade off with various flavorings, spices, herbs, etc.
Unlike marinades, rubs are dry or paste-type seasoning mixtures that are used for flavoring. Usually applied to the surfaces of roasts, steaks and ground beef patties just prior to cooking, they often form a delicious crust during cooking.
Dry rubs consist of herbs, spices and other dry seasonings that are pressed
onto the beef’s surface. Paste-type rubs are spread over the beef
and use small amounts of wet ingredients, such as oil, crushed garlic,
mustard, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce, to bind the dry seasonings.
Beef Cooking Methods (Dry Heat or Moist Heat)
Beef develops its desirable flavor and aroma during cooking. True meaty, umami flavor begins with the application of heat as it transforms proteins, carbohydrates and fats into their smaller, more flavorful components of amino acids, sugars and fatty acids.
All beef cooking methods fall into two main categories: Dry Heat Methods and Moist Heat Methods. For tender beef cuts use Dry Heat Methods and for less tender cuts use Moist Heat Methods. Tender cuts come primarily from the middle of the animal – the rib and loin – because they are support muscles that receive less exercise and contain less connective tissue. Less tender cuts come primarily from the front and hind sections of the animal – the chuck and round – because these are heavily exercised muscles that develop more connective tissue. While beef cooked in liquid develops a different flavor than beef that is roasted or broiled, heat in general produces the same affect on beef proteins.
As heat denatures myofibrillar proteins causing them to gradually shorten or toughen and release liquid, connective tissues solubilize and begin to break down. The key internal temperature at which these changes begin to take place is 149°F. When beef with low amounts of connective tissue, such as loin and rib cuts, are cooked beyond this temperature, the additional heat continues to toughen them. So fast cooking at higher temperatures is preferred (dry heat). Beef with higher levels of connective tissue, such as some chuck and round cuts, need longer, slower cooking (moist heat) to allow time for the connective tissue to convert to gelatin and become tender.
The color change in these pigments is the primary indicator for degrees of doneness in beef. As the temperature of the beef increases, the muscle becomes progressively opaque, changing from red to pink to brown. The color of beef juices also changes from pink to pale amber.
Dry Heat Cooking Methods:
• Oven Roasting
• Skillet Cooking/Sauté/Stir-Frying
Characterized by quick cooking at higher temperatures, dry heat methods use uncovered pans, direct heat and no additional liquid. Browning via the Maillard Reaction (see below) is a key flavor factor. Best used with tender cuts, dry heat methods minimize the toughening effect of heat on muscle fibers.
Broiling & Grilling: Cooking time is critical in broiling and grilling since thinner cuts such as steaks, kabobs and burgers, are cooked at higher temperatures and can easily overcook.
Oven Roasting: This cooking method takes place in an open pan in the oven
without liquid. Lower oven temperatures result in less moisture loss, producing
higher yields. Some very tender cuts with less connective tissue can be
roasted at higher temperatures with juicy, flavorful results: tenderloin,
short ribs and ribeye.
Stand Time: Since the internal temperature of a roast continues to rise
after cooking, it’s best to remove the roast from the oven when the
thermometer registers 5°F to 10°F below the desired doneness. Roasting
illustrates how the protein denaturing process can sometimes be reversed.
If a roast is immediately carved after removing from the oven a substantial
amount of juice is squeezed out and lost. But when the roast is allowed
to stand for 15 to 20 minutes, the proteins are able to reabsorb some of
the moisture that was released during heating, producing a firmer, juicier,
easier to carve roast.
Sauté/Stir-Frying: A variation of sautéing, stir-frying cooks
thin, uniform beef pieces quickly in a small amount of fat in an open skillet
or wok. For best results, use tender beef cuts, though some less tender
cuts, such as flank, can be stir-fried when cut into thin strips. The classic
Chinese technique called “velveting” enhances the texture of
stir-fried beef strips with the aid of a cornstarch marinade. The cornstarch
binds the flavors to the beef by sealing in juices and protects the beef
Moist Heat Cooking Methods:
• Braising/Pot Roasting
• Cooking in Liquid/Stewing/Poaching
A slow, gentle process, moist heat methods take place over low heat in a tightly covered pan to which liquid has been added. The beef is typically browned before adding the liquid to add color and flavor. Best used with less tender cuts, moist heat methods solubilize collagen and develop natural beef flavors. Steam, which is produced from the liquid and retained by a tight-fitting cover, converts tough collagen into tender gelatin.
During long, slow cooking in moist heat, beef flavor components leach into the cooking liquid creating delicately flavored meat. The lack of strong browned beef aromas also reduces flavor intensity. So ingredients such as broth and wine are often used in place of water to produce a flavorful, aromatic sauce or gravy. The difference between cooking in liquid/stewing and braising/pot roasting is in the amount of liquid. Cooking in liquid/stewing uses more liquid, usually enough to cover the beef.
Browning = Flavor; The Maillard Reaction
A common beef cooking technique that should never be skipped is browning. Why? Because browning creates beef flavors that can only be produced through dry heat – unique flavors and aromas that are not intrinsic to the beef itself. During browning, temperatures of 350°F or higher on the surface of the beef cause proteins (amino acids) and carbohydrates (sugars) to caramelize into intense flavors and aromas. There are a very limited number of carbohydrates in meats, enough for the browning reaction. This browning process is called the Maillard Reaction, named after the French scientist who discovered it. Everything from baked goods to coffee beans to beef benefit from this complex reaction of sugars and amino acids caused by higher heat. The Maillard Reaction is the reason why a beef stew has a richer flavor when the beef, vegetables and flour are browned before adding the liquid.
Information courtesy of www.beefandvealculinary.com