Beef is one of the most consumed types of meats across the world. Beef is rich in protein and has low-fat content (which depends on the cut, of course!).
Beef has all kinds of health benefits and provides you with vitamins, and minerals such as iron and zinc.
Packed with multiple essential nutrients and amino acids, eating beef is a perfect way to fuel a healthy and active lifestyle for people of all age groups.
Beef can be cooked by using some cooking methods and is a delicious ingredient of a lot of fancy meals.
Restaurants offer tasty and healthy varieties of beef dishes, but you can also cook it at home.
Here’s a detailed discussion about the beef preparation before you start cooking it:
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While you can cook frozen beef safely, it is wise to thaw them for a better flavor and texture. Thawing the beef could be done in three different ways:
Using a refrigerator
Sticking your frozen beef into the fridge is one of the most natural techniques to thaw your beef.
However, it could take quite some time to thaw even the smallest amounts of meat and might take up an entire day.
The thawing using the refrigerator helps you to keep the meat cold and safe for longer times.
Thaw a 5-pound beef for at least 24 hours. Once you have thawed the beef, you can easily keep the beef in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Using cold water
If you are looking for a quick thawing process, the cold water technique could be the right choice for you.
Immerse the packets of beef entirely in cold water and keep changing the water every half an hour to make sure the temperature is right.
It usually takes half an hour for a pound of beef. This method efficiently helps you to defrost small packages in less than an hour.
Changing the cold water here is the key because it could prevent the growth of bacteria.
Cook the beef immediately after you have thawed.
In the case where you can’t cook it immediately, you can keep it in the freezer below 40 degrees Fahrenheit to keep it safe.
However, it is advisable to cook the beef immediately after thawing for best results.
Using a microwave
Using a microwave could be another quick option for you to defrost your beef. By using your microwave’s defrost feature, you can defrost your beef effectively.
It is recommended to cook the thawed beef immediately to get the best results.
Trimming, Cutting, and Boning Beef
When you are preparing your beef for a particular recipe, it becomes necessary to trim it.
Trimming primarily involves the process of removal of unwanted portions such as fat and sinew.
While trimming, you must have a clear picture of how much amount of fat you want to remove as per your preferences.
Using a flexible, sharp knife could make the trimming process smooth.
Since the beef is made out of long and thin fibers, it is advisable to cut you beef across the grain so that you can get shorter fibers.
Cutting across the grains helps you maintain tenderness of the beef.
Owning a sharp and flexible boning knife could be the key here. To achieve sure cuts, you may need to remove the bones.
Cut the length of the bone and scrape the edges of beef across the bone to expose it from the beef.
Once you have exposed the bone completely, check the bone for any remaining meat. In case of any parts remaining, you can scrape the meat until you have entirely detached it.
The quality of your beef is determined by how juicy and tender your beef is. It may depend upon the cut of the beef and your cooking techniques.
Tenderize your beef with the following techniques:
Beat the beef with the mallet
Beating your beef with a mallet is one of the best ways to make your beef tender.
You can also use sophisticated tenderizing tools that can help you with excellent quality tender beef.
Slow cooking is another useful technique to tenderize your tough cuts.
Make sure that you do the cooking at low temperatures for long hours if you want to have the best results.
You can also tenderize your meat by adding salt to it and keeping it for an hour or two. It results in the useful breakdown of severe cuts.
Slicing across the grain
Cutting your beef across the grain with a good quality slicing knife could help you tenderize your beef by cutting the long fibers into shorter ones.
Marinating with acid could loosen the tough cuts making it tender and chewy to eat.
Beef aging enhances the texture and flavor of the beef along with breaking down tissues in the muscle making the beef tender and juicy.
In this process, the enzymes and microbes present in the beef tend to break down the connective tissues of the muscles to tenderize it.
You can use two methods to age your beef:
Dry aging is the process of aging beef by letting it hang in the open air in a controlled environment.
Dry-aged beef has a better flavor and texture as compared to wet, dried beef.
The dry aging method allows the beef to lose moisture to give out a more concentrated flavor and improved texture.
How to dry-age your beef at home?
- Purchase a good quality beef from the marketplace.
- Unwrap the beef, then wash it and rinse it thoroughly. Pat dry the beef and re-wrap it in multiple layered cheesecloths on a tray without trimming
- Refrigerate the wrapped beef for up to a week. The longer you age the beef, the more tender and juicy it gets.
- Open the cheesecloth and re-wrap it every day for better results
- Unwrap the beef and remove the hardened potions before roasting
All you need to do is put the cut in a vacuum sealed package and keep it in the refrigerator for the process of aging.
It is a simple process, but the texture and flavor of wet, dried beef are reduced as compared to dry-aged beef.
It is essential to tie your beef before cooking to ensure that all the juices remain in the beef keeping its flavor intact.
It also keeps the beef in shape and helps you to cook the beef evenly.
Tying becomes essential when you have stuffed the beef with ingredients, and you don’t like them to fall out.
There is some twine available in the stores for you to pick from.
However, the most popular twine among butchers and chefs are the ones made from cotton.
You can also make use of dental floss if you have run out of twine.
There are different types of knots that you can use to tie your beef such as the butchers’ knot, the endless knot, and hans knot.
You can use the knot that is convenient to tie you beef properly.
How to tie beef for the best cooking results?
- Properly secure the twine across the beef
- Continue with a series of knots across the length of the beef
- Tie the beef first from its width and then from its long side to ensure a good tie around the beef
Trim off the excess twine, and you are good to go! Make sure you do not tie the beef too tight, or you could end up squishing your beef.
One of the most effective steps for proper grinding of beef is to cool the beef.
If the beef becomes less cold, it could make your grinding process very difficult.
It is also advisable to chill your meat grinder as well if you want the best ground beef.
Here’s a list of the steps that you need to perform to obtain the best quality ground beef:
Chop the beef into small cubes
Chopping up the meat makes your grinding process seamless.
Chill the beef cubes in the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes
Chilling the beef cubes keep it firm and helps it to remain stable and hold its shape making it pass quickly through the meat grinder.
Chilling the meat grinder too could make your task double easy.
Put the chopped pieces of beef into the meat grinder hopper
While putting the beef into the hopper, ensure that it has the right temperature to prevent any bacterial growth, particularly for large amounts.
Keep the filler bowl in a pack of ice to maintain the temperature too.
Switch on the meat grinder while pushing the chopped beef cubes into it
Push beef and other ingredients such as garlic, onion, or herbs into the hopper.
Your excellent ground beef is now ready to cook your fancy beef dishes.
1. How long can the uncooked beef remain frozen without getting bad?
The duration of storage of uncooked beef depends upon the types of cut and can be stored for times ranging from 3 months to a year.
Massive cuts can be stored for 5-6 months while the smaller for only 2-3 months.
However, you cannot store them in a regular refrigerator.
You will need to ensure zero degrees Fahrenheit to keep the quality intact.
Shortcuts can be kept for 3-7 days in your refrigerator while ground beef can be kept only for a couple of days.
2. Can the defrosted frozen beef be refrozen?
I would not recommend refreezing defrosted beef.
It is because you may have to compromise with the flavor and texture of the refrozen beef making it dry.
There is also a microbial risk in the process unless of course, you have cooked it already!
3. Do you need to wash the beef before cooking?
It is not needed to wash your defrosted beef before cooking.
You can pat dry your beef by using a paper towel before cooking to make sure there is no moisture in it.
It will help your meat to cook well.
4. How do you cut your beef to find tender beef?
Cutting your beef against the grain could help you obtain a more tender and juicy beef.
It is because the long fibers are cut short when you cut against the grains making the tough beef tender.
5. How to tell when your meat is perfectly cooked?
The cooking time varies depending upon the cut, the cooking method, and of course the temperature and it is a bit difficult to generalize the idea.
The perfect way to check the doneness of your beef is to check the temperature with a meat thermometer.
6. Why is your stir-fried beef dry and chewy?
Your stir-fried beef could be dry and chewy because you might be using large batches on the pan.
It leads to uneven heating of the slices making them stew in their juices resulting in dry and chewy beef.
You can consider making small batches of beef on your pan to make sure that they don’t dry out and have their juices packed.
Also, consider cutting the beef across the grain to ensure more tender and juicy stripes.
7. Which is the best technique to thaw beef quickly?
You can thaw meat by using cold water for quick results.
Keep your packed beef in cold water and keep changing the water every half an hour to maintain the temperature or you could end up having bacterial growth on your beef.
It is advisable to cook the beef immediately after thawing.
You can also use the defrost feature on your microwave for some quick defrosting.
8. Should you wet-age or dry-age your beef?
The dry aged beef has very less moisture content and thus has a concentrated flavor and an improved texture.
The wet aged beef has a relatively mild flavor and is less expensive.
However, you can use the aging technique that best serves your flavor preferences and needs.
9. Can you cook the frozen beef directly?
Yes, you can always cook your beef which is directly taken out from the freezer.
However, it could take 50% more time as compared to cooking thawed beef.
Once you know all the beef preparation tips and techniques, you can go ahead and cook your favorite beef dishes with your tender and juicy beef!