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Cooking Tips: Cooked to Perfection

Information from Quality Meat Scotland

Method

How much do you need? An average cooked serving of meat weighs 140 – 160g. The amount of raw meat required for that serving depends on how much the meat shrinks during cooking as well as the particular cut, its size, fat and bone content and the degree of doneness. Generally, cooking losses range from ¼ to one third of the raw meat weight. Remember, cooking losses in small roasts and portion cuts tend to be greater than in larger cuts. Get the most out of beef and lamb when cooking by: Keep cooking temperatures low – Some cooking loss is unavoidable, but using low cooking temperatures keeps them to a minimum. There is less meat shrinkage at low temperatures. Tests show that even when two beef roasts are cooked to the same degree of ‘doneness’, roasting losses are usually less at a lower, constant temperature for a longer period of time, than at a higher temperature for shorter time. Simmer, don’t boil – Gentle simmering cooks meat evenly and simmered meats have less cooking loss than boiled meats. Grill, don’t burn – Grilling requires high temperatures. If the temperature is too high it will burn the outside of the meat, dry, shrink and cook it unevenly. Do not cook meats longer than necessary – (But ensure internal temperature is high enough to kill bacteria). The longer a roast is in the oven, the more it shrinks so do not overcook. The larger the cut, the longer the cooking time needed, but keep in mind that a thin, flat roast might take half the cooking time of a thicker roast of the same weight. Always take into account the shape as well as the cut and weight of the meat when calculating cooking time. There are 200 muscles in a beef carcase. Every one is different in structure – that is why different cuts of meat need to be cooked by different cooking methods. Carve it right to cut losses – Good carving techniques help to minimise meat losses during slicing. Carve meat across the grain for optimum tenderness. Trimmings – Put them to good use. Fat (dripping) render – Use for cooking. Bones and sinews – Use in stock making, for sauces, soups etc. Large trimmings – Dice or cut into strips for casseroles, kebabs and stir-fries. Small trimmings – Mince for use in pies, patties, meat loaves.