Cooking meat has its challenges but during my cooking adventures I’ve learned a few very simple and easy tips that will help you leave your meat tasting fabulous and juicy. All of these tips are just about simply changing the way you handle the meat from start to finish.
For the start, we all know that it’s best to bring your eggs and butter to room temperature before using for baking, unless of course the recipe calls for cold butter. But I had never realized how much of a difference it can make to bring meat to room temperature before cooking until I got a tip from a chef and tried it out.
What an EASY way to improve a dish! I was so impressed that something so easy could make such a big difference. Now I always try to set out any meat at least a half hour ahead of cooking because the meat will be so much more juicy and will cook more evenly instead of burning on the outside and still being cold and raw in the middle. I have also found when I’m marinating the meat seems to absorb more of the flavors as it comes to room temp while in the marinade (don’t forget that using marinades before grilling can help to cut your cancer risks when grilling meat).
Next, don’t add the salt to the meat until you start cooking it whether it’s for roasting, grilling, poaching, frying, or whatever. Add the salt just before you place the meat into the cooking pan, because the salt will draw the moisture out of the meat as it sits causing the meat to dry out. Do add the salt beginning at the start of the cooking and not waiting until the end because the meat or any dish for that matter tastes better with the seasoning cooked through it. For best result, season throughout your cooking, finishing with a final seasoning at the end of your cooking.
Of course, overcooking is the fastest way to end up with dried out meat. Understand the cooking times for the meat you are cooking and learn how to test the meat for doneness. Try not to poke or cut the meat while it’s cooking to test for doneness because you make a hole for all those wonderful juices to run out, losing flavor and leaving the meat dry.
Remove the meat from the heat source a little bit before it reaches the perfect doneness because it will continue to cook for a few minutes after being removed from the heat. Allow this to be part of the resting process and it will be the perfect point of done when you serve it up.
Finally, let the meat REST! Yes, resting is important for food as well as people. Once you’ve cooked the meat, give it anywhere from 10 minutes to a half an hour depending on the size of what you cooked to rest and allow the juices to move down through the meat, resulting in juicy, yummy meat. Obviously the larger the meat such as a whole turkey or chicken needs the half hour and a steak or chicken breast will only need the 10 minutes. Cutting immediately allows the juices to run out on the plate and you get none of those awesome flavors and juices to savor while eating.
Like I said, all of these tips are meat made EASY. None of them add any more time to the cooking or difficult and they work for all types of meat. So stop serving dried out meat and serve juicy meats