As a man, we must love all meats! Right? We are born to devour flesh with undeniable carnal instincts. This simply isn’t true. Some meat just isn’t good. Especially if it isn’t prepared properly. We are more civilized and refined than eating a bland, burnt piece of meat. But when it is done right, meat is hard to top. Each bite so juicy and bursting with satisfying flavors. And this article is here to make sure you are consuming and enjoying meat the right way.
Types of Meat
Beef is the first and most manly of all meats. There are several cuts and types of beef. Steak being most desired and well known. There’s also various roasts and ground beef for burgers and such. Ribs are a little more advanced and far less common. But beef is full of iron and vitamins, and the fat content is actually healthier fat than that in pork, making it a reasonably healthy option, contrary to popular belief.
Pork is probably the next most popular of the big three meat types. And just like beef, there are many types of cuts from the pig. There are tenderloin steaks, shoulder roast, baby back ribs, various sausages, and the almighty bacon. Pork is naturally fattier than beef and less healthy, but this fat content also makes it often the easiest to cook.
Chicken is the last of the big three. It is by far the leanest, especially without the skin. There are breasts, legs, thighs, and wings. And breasts can be boneless as well. It is generally the healthiest option with the highest protein percentage and great for weekly meal prep.
Lamb is a very underrated option. Reasonably lean with healthy fats and almost always grass-fed and free roaming, it makes for a healthy and sustainable type of meat. You can get cuts of chops, steaks, or roasts and it has a wonderfully juicy profile.
There are also other types of poultry like turkey or duck. And then there are gamier red meats such as bison or venison, and these are very healthy and tasty, but we won’t be talking about them as they are much less common and much more expensive.
How to Prep the Meat
The work before cooking the meat often goes overlooked. And it is every bit as crucial. You can cook a steak to perfection but if it doesn’t have salt and pepper and wasn’t sitting at room temp before you cooked it, it will be half as good as it could have been. You can get a pork shoulder to just the right internal temperature for shredding but if there’s no rub or seasoning on it, it will be bland and boring.
The first step is choosing the meat. You want to choose the freshest meat possible and try not to freeze it, especially a nice steak. Just look for meat at the shop with an expiration date as far into the future as possible or ask the butcher which cuts are the freshest.
The next step is to clean or trim the meat if needed. Most meats benefit from a rinse and pat dry before you season them. And some will require some trimming of unnecessary fats. This varies from meat to meat, and continued practice will help in recognizing and knowing when a cut of meat needs some trimming.
The final step and I believe the most important for a good meal, is the seasoning or flavoring or marinating. I’m a big fan of marinating almost every type of meat except for nice cuts of steak. A dry or wet marinade allows the flavors you want to penetrate the meat and tenderize it so it is juicier when it’s all done. There are hundreds of rub recipes out there, so choose which flavor you’re going for, rub the meat several hours in advance, and revel in your meat masterpiece when the time comes.
Methods of Cooking
There are many methods of cooking everything out there, and meat is no exception. However, I do believe you can almost never go wrong with one, grilling. Grilling puts the fire directly to the meat, just like our ancestors did it. There is something magical about flames caramelizing and charring the edges of a piece of meat while the inside is juicy and slightly smoky.
It just can’t be beaten in most circumstances. It works for steaks and chicken and pork chops and on and on and on. So if you are into or getting into cooking and you have the space, I think a grill is the best purchase you can make.
A much more widely available option for most is pan-fried or oven roasted. And these two often go together. The sizzle in the sauté pan creates the sear and the crust, and the oven cooks it a little slower and more even for a juicy piece. Some types of meat will be done in just the oven or just the stovetop, just follow your recipe to know which is best.
The last main type of cooking meat is slow-cooking. And it’s an amazing option. Slow-cooking generally makes meat more tender. It’s a long process that creates layers of deep flavor. You can smoke meats for slow-cooking or use an electric cooker like a crockpot. Slow-cooking is usually saved for larger cuts of meats like beef briskets or pork shoulders. Either way, if you have the time, definitely give it a shot.
Proper Cooking Temperatures
No matter how you choose to cook your meat, the absolute best way to ensure your cut is cooked enough for safe consumption and is done exactly to your liking is the checking the internal temperature of the meat. And the only way to do this is with a meat thermometer. With practice, you won’t necessarily need this tool for things like chicken or burgers or pork chops, but it can never hurt and is so easy to just poke in there and read the output. Boom, done, perfectly cooked dinner.
Now each type of meat requires different internal temperatures to be considered done. A general rule for ground meats, poultry, or pork is 160 degrees Fahrenheit, though this isn’t exact. Steaks and beef can be consumed at a slightly lower temperatures as can lamb and things like pork chops or roasts. Here is a handy guide for major types of meats. And you can always consult a recipe for recommended temperatures.
Steak Cooking Tips
Now that we’ve covered a general basis on how to prep and cook various types of meats, we’ll go into one specific type, steak. There are too many meats and too many recipes out there to cover any more, but we’ll go into steak since it’s the manliest and to prove that we know what we’re talking about when it comes to food.
First, you must prepare your steak. The first tip, and absolute most important is to salt your beef. Beef needs salt to bring out and enhance its beefiness. Which is glorious. Always salt your beef. No exceptions. The next is to get into other seasonings. If it is a really nice, expensive cut of steak, just stick to basic salt and pepper. Your steak will have a wonderful flavor on its own, and these will just simply enhance that flavor, not overpower it.
If it is a cheaper and less tender cut, you can season it with all sorts of things from garlic or herbs or cumin or chili powder. Experiment and try different things and find something new you like. That is one of the beauties of cooking.
There is some debate on when to season your steak before cooking. Some say it’s a sin to marinate steak and to never season until just before cooking it. I say this is garbage. Unless it is that really nice cut, there is no issue marinating. In fact, it can even make the steak juicier through the wonderful chemical reaction of osmosis. So, expensive steaks, salt and pepper right before cooking. Cheaper steaks, marinate if your heart desires.
This one is simple but paramount. You want your steak to be at room temperature just before cooking. No pulling directly out of the fridge and throwing right on the grill. Being at room temperature allows the steak to cook more evenly and for the juices to distribute better. So pull the steak out of the fridge about 45 minutes before you are ready to cook it.
Cooking in a Pan and Oven
While I will still firmly say there is no better way to cook a steak than a grill, some of us just don’t have that option. But we all have a stovetop and oven. So we’ll tell you how to make a juicy steak right inside the warm apartment. You will need a cast iron skillet as this will sear nicely and can go right into the oven.
Once your steak is prepped and at room temp, heat the cast iron skillet on high until it’s hot. Also, turn the oven to broil and put the rack in the middle of the oven. Put a little olive oil in the pan and throw the steak on. Cook it for 30 seconds, flip the steak and transfer to the oven. Cook it under the broiler for 2 minutes, pull the cast iron out, flip the steak and cook for another 2-3 minutes depending on how done you want your steak. When the steak has reached your desired internal temperature, pull it out of the oven.
Now, this step is also vital. You must allow the steak to rest for five minutes before slicing and serving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat and will cook it ever so slightly more.
Cutting the Steak
This last step is small but also extremely important. You always slice your steak bites against the grain. The grain is the direction the muscle fibers run. So find that direction and slice your steak perpendicular to those fibers. This makes each bit much more tender and delicious. Slice and enjoy your accomplishment of manliness!
Hopefully, your taste buds are salivating and ready for some meat. If you’re a vegetarian, we respect that and much love to you, but why have you read this article all the way to this point? If you’re a manly carnivore, remember to prepare and cook your meat correctly and you’ll be feasting on delicious and worthy flesh the rest of your life. Enjoy it!