Principles of Cooking Meat

Reading Guide

There are a variety of different ways to cook meat.

Before You Read

Two-Column Notes Two-column notes are a useful way to study and organize what you have read. Divide a piece of paper into two columns. In the left column, write down main ideas. In the right column, list supporting ideas.

English Language Arts

NCTE 4 Use written language to communicate effectively.

Content Vocabulary

• high-heat cooking

• rare

• low-heat cooking

• medium rare

• rest

• medium

• grain

j medium well

• spice rub

j well done

• trichinosis

Key Concepts

• Demonstrate different cooking methods used for meats.

Main Idea

A foodservice employee must fully understand meat cooking techniques. Meat is expensive and the operation will lose money if it is improperly cooked.

Graphic Organizer

As you read, use a web diagram like this one to list the seven different methods used to cook meat.

Academic Vocabulary

English Language Arts

NCTE 4 Use written language to communicate effectively.

^ Mathematics

NCTM Measurement

Understand measurable attributes of objects and the units, systems, and processes of measurement.


NSESB Develop an understanding of chemical reactions.

Principles Cooking

■J'/ Graphic Organizer Go to this book's Online Learning Center at for a printable graphic organizer.

j I Social Studies

NCSSVIIIB Science, Technology, and Society

Make judgments about how science and technology have transformed the physical world and human society.

NCTE National Council of Teachers of English

NCTM National Council of Teachers of Mathematics NSES National Science Education Standards

NCSS National Council for the Social Studies

Cooking for Tenderness

Meat is one of the highest expenses for foodservice operations. Selecting the right cuts of meat is just the first step. To get the most value for its money and to satisfy, or fill, customers' appetites, a foodservice operation must fully understand cooking techniques for meat. Tender cuts of meat become tough when they are cooked improperly. Likewise, tough cuts of meat can become tender when they are cooked correctly. Meat can be delicious and nutritious, but only when it is properly prepared.

If you have ever eaten a burned hamburger, you know what overcooking does to meat. Some dry cooking techniques will firm proteins without breaking down connective tissue. This makes meat tough. You would not want to use a dry cooking technique with a less-tender piece of meat that has a lot of connective tissue. A better choice would be a moist cooking technique. This exposes the meat to moisture and heat during cooking. Moist cooking helps to break down the connective tissue and tenderize the meat.

High-Heat and Low-Heat Cooking

The temperature of the heat source has an important effect on how meat is cooked and how the final product will taste. High-heat cooking can toughen proteins and dry out meat over extended periods of time. However, high heat, when used correctly, can result in an excellent final product. High-heat cooking, such as broiling and grilling, is used for tender cuts of meat like tenderloins and strip steaks.

Low-heat cooking is the best method for preparing large cuts of meat, such as top round. Low-heat cooking does not shrink the meat because moist heat, in the form of steam or liquid, penetrates the meat more quickly than dry heat. However, many restaurants use cuts of meat that do not require long cooking times.

Pay close attention to how much fat a cut of meat has prior to cooking. A meat's fat content, or amount, will affect the cooking technique. In general, if a meat is high in fat, do not add additional fat while you cook. Adding fat will make the final product oily or greasy.

Cooking Methods
^J Meat Cooking Methods Use the cooking technique that is right for the cut of meat you are preparing. What would happen if you improperly cooked a tender piece of meat?

Barding Meat Barding involves wrapping meat with fat before cooking. What cuts of meat would benefit most from barding?

Needle For Meat

Barding Meat Barding involves wrapping meat with fat before cooking. What cuts of meat would benefit most from barding?

Fat can be added for meats that are low in fat, such as veal. Veal roasts could be barded or larded. Marinades can add fat to lower-fat meats. You can also add a small amount of fat to the cooking pan. This will help prevent the meat from drying out.

Roasting Meats

Remember that roasting is a dry technique that uses hot, dry air to cook the food. To roast meat, season it and then place it in a hot oven. Roasted meats do not use water or other liquids and are not generally covered during the cooking process. It is helpful to baste the meat with its natural juices or a flavorful seasoned stock. This keeps the meat from drying out.

Whether you use barding or the meat's own layer of fat, lay the meat fat side up for cooking. This way the fat will naturally baste the meat and keep it moist.

To help enhance the meat's flavor and retain moisture, chefs often bard the meat when they roast it. Barding involves wrapping meat with fat, such as bacon, prior to cooking. Tie the fat to the meat with butcher's twine. A few minutes before the meat is done, remove the fat and allow the surface of the meat to brown.

Seasoning meats that will be roasted can be tricky. Salt cannot simply be added to the meat before the meat is roasted because the salt will not penetrate the meat during cooking. To season meat that will be roasted, follow these tips:

• Trim any heavy fat covering, leaving a thin fat layer. This will help the seasoning penetrate the meat.

• Season the meat several hours prior to roasting. This may mean adding seasonings to the surface of the meat, larding the meat with strips of fat, or inserting seasonings, such as garlic or cloves.

• Season the meat again after it is done.

• Season the meat's juices and serve them with the meat.

Sauces and gravies add flavor and moisture to roasted meats. Sauces can be made from meat drippings. It is especially important to add sauce or gravy if the meat is well done. To make a rich gravy, deglaze the roasting pan and combine the drippings with a thickening agent and a demi-glace, or a concentrated brown stock that has been reduced. (For more on how to make and use stocks and sauces, see Chapter 20.)

Carving Roasted Meats

Carving roasted meats correctly is an important final step to serving an appetizing roast meat dish. Incorrectly carving meat can cause well-roasted meat to taste dry and tough. Allow the meat to rest before carving. To rest means to allow meat to sit so that juices redistribute throughout the meat. This makes it easier to slice the meat, and keeps the meat moist.

Always carve against the grain. Grain is the direction of muscle fibers, or treads, in meat. This means to cut against the muscle fiber structure of the meat. If the meat is sliced along the muscle fiber structure, it will be tough and stringy. Cut across muscle fibers instead.

Science à U Carte

The Maillard Reactions

When meat is braised, it is often first grilled or pan fried in a skillet at a high temperature, above 285°F (141°C). Doing this allows the meat to undergo a series of reactions involving its sugars and proteins. These are called the Maillard reactions, named after Dr. L.C. Maillard, an early 20th-century chemist. The Maillard reactions help develop the flavor, outer texture, and color of meat.

There are three conditions necessary for a Maillard reaction:

• A nonacidic, or base, environment (pH higher than 7).

• Enough protein, and therefore enough amino acids, in the meat.

• Meat carbohydrates combined with the amino acid from a protein.


Prepare two pork chops. Grill or pan-fry one pork chop to medium well, and braise the other to medium well. Compare the results. Analysis

Which pork chop is crispier? Which pork chop has a darker color? Why did the cooking methods result in two different outcomes? Use your findings to write instructions for preparing a brown, crispy, and well-cooked pork chop.

NSES B Develop an understanding of chemical reactions.

Broiling and Grilling Meats

Two other dry cooking techniques, broiling and grilling, or barbequing, are popular ways to prepare meats. Broiling and grilling use high temperatures and relatively fast cooking times. Broiled and grilled meats are usually cooked to rare or medium with a browned, crusty surface and a tender, juicy interior. Barbequing uses low heat and slow cooking times. Restaurants that serve meat rare must have a warning on the menu about under-cooked meat and the possibility of bacteria.

Remember these tips when you broil and grill:

• The shorter the cooking time, the higher the heat needed.

• The thicker the cut, the longer the cooking time needed.

• Set the grill controls for different temperatures across the surface of the commercial grill.

• Vary the cooking temperature by moving the meat to different areas of the grill, depending upon the heat needed.

• When you grill red meats, make sure the heat is high enough so that the surface becomes brown and crispy.

• To create cross-hatch grill marks, or grill lines, place the presentation side of the meat down on the grill. Cook long enough for the grill lines to show. Then, rotate the meat about 90 degrees to form the additional grill lines.


Seasoning meats that will be broiled or grilled rather than roasted is best done just prior to cooking them. Meats that tend to become dry when broiled or grilled, such as veal or pork, may be marinated or served with seasoned butter. Meats can be placed in marinades minutes or hours before cooking. Spice rubs can also be used to season meats. A spice rub is a mixture of ground spices that is rubbed on raw food before it is cooked.

Sauces and Accompaniments

Butter sauces, such as Béarnaise, and brown sauces, such as mushroom, are excellent additions to meat dishes. Sauces are usually served in a separate bowl, next to the meat, under the meat, or drizzled over the meat on a dinner plate. Most sauces are made before broiling or grilling and do not use juices from the meat itself.

Other accompaniments include vegetables, such as green beans and potatoes. These can be an excellent addition to the meal if they are grilled or broiled. However, you should remember that a meal could become less interesting when all the foods are cooked using the same technique.

Sautéing and Pan-Frying Meats

Tender cuts of meat and thin pieces of meat are usually sautéed. Meats that contain bones or breaded meats are pan-fried. Both cooking techniques require you to pay attention to the amount of heat and fat you use.

Follow these tips: • Heat the pan before adding the fat.

• Use the correct amount of oil called for in the recipe. It should be enough to evenly cook all surfaces.

• Never overcrowd the pan.

• Turn or move the meat as little as possible.

• Avoid using unclarified butter because it burns easily.


The sauces that accompany sautéed or pan-fried meats will greatly enhance their flavor. A variety of sauces will bring out the flavors of meat cooked with these techniques.

You might also want to marinate the meat before cooking it. If so, make sure to thoroughly pat the meat dry before cooking it, or it will not brown correctly.

Use of Fat

The amount of fat used in sautéing and pan-frying differs. To sauté, use a small amount of fat and heat it until it is very hot before you add the meat. The amount of fat used depends on the amount of meat sautéed. The reason such a small amount is needed is that all surface areas of the meat will touch the pan.

Cooking Methods



Flavorful accompaniments are usually served with broiled or grilled meat, like this veal chop. What accompaniments do you think could be served with broiled or grilled meats?

Sanitation Check

^ Meat Temperature

Always use a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature of meat. A meat thermometer can help you prevent foodborne illness, prevent overcooking, and hold foods at a safe temperature. Completely clean and sanitize the thermometer after each use to avoid cross-contamination.

CRITICAL THINKING How can using a meat thermometer help you prevent foodborne illness?

To pan fry, use a moderate amount of fat in a pan, and heat it until it is hot before you add the meat. To evenly brown the meat, use enough fat to conduct heat to the meat's surfaces. Flat meats do not require as much fat as unevenly-shaped meats. You may have to lower the heat a bit to fully cook the product without burning the outside.

Braising and Stewing Meats

Braising and stewing are both combination techniques that begin by browning the food using dry heat. Braising involves partially covering the meat with liquid and cooking until tender. You may decide to cover the pan while the food cooks. During stewing, the liquid completely covers the meat. Both methods finish cooking by simmering in a liquid. The liquid used in both of these cooking methods is extremely important to the success of the final dish.

To begin the braising or stewing process, first season the meat. Avoid using large amounts of salt, because this will slow the browning process. Many chefs marinate meat for several hours or even a whole day before braising or stewing.

Use these tips to braise or stew meat:

• Pat the meat dry prior to browning, especially if it has been marinated.

• Dredge the meat in flour just before cooking to improve browning.

• Do not use more liquid than is necessary.

• When meat is done, it should be fork tender.

Determine Doneness

Most people are particular about how they like their meat cooked. The difference between meat that is well done and meat that is rare can be considerable.

A meat's doneness depends on:

• The cooking method

• The size and type of meat

• The internal temperature of the meat

• The color of the meat

• The amount of time the meat is cooked

Internal Temperature

The best way to test a meat's doneness is to test its internal temperature. Follow these rules:

• Insert the thermometer at an angle, into the thickest part of the meat.

• Avoid taking the temperature in fatty areas.

• Avoid touching or getting near bone with the thermometer.

• Meat is done when it reaches its proper internal temperature, and held at that temperature for at least 15 seconds. Pork must be cooked to the correct internal temperature. To kill parasites, cook pork to an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) for 15 seconds. If pork is not cooked correctly, your customers could contract trichinosis (ltri-k9-'no-s9s). Trichinosis is an infestation by a parasite that can cause muscular pain, stomach upset, fever, weakness, and swelling.

Although many people enjoy eating beef and lamb rare, there is a risk of foodborne illness when meat is cooked at low internal temperatures. Steaks/chops should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) and held at this temperature for at least 15 seconds. Ground beef should be cooked to 155°F (68°C) and held at that temperature for 15 seconds.

Many states require restaurants to warn their customers of the danger of eating under-cooked meats by including a disclaimer on the menu. Check with your local and state health departments for further guidelines.


The color of meat changes when it is cooked. Learning what the colors indicate helps to determine when a particular type of meat product is done. Red meat starts red and changes to gray as the product cooks. Light meat turns pink and changes to white and then to tan as it cooks. Pork and veal become white to tan in color when cooked. It is important to remember that color is not the same as internal temperature. • Rare meat is browned on the surface, with a red center. A thin outer layer of cooked meat appears gray.


Review Key Concepts

1. Demonstrate how to determine the doneness of meat.

Practice Culinary Academics English Language Arts

2. Create a cooking guide for meat. Include instructions and illustrations for cooking meat, including general tips and specific guidelines for different cooking methods.

NCTE 4 Use written language to communicate effectively.

Social Studies

3. A method of cooking meat that is gaining popularity is sous vide. Sous vide involves placing meat in airtight bags and cooking for an extended period of time at relatively low temperatures. Research sous vide and explain its developments. Write a summary with the pros and cons of this method.

• Medium rare meat is browned on the surface with a thicker outer layer of gray and a red to slightly pink center.

• Medium meat is browned on the surface with an even thicker outer layer of gray and a pink center.

• Medium well meat is browned on the surface with a thick outer layer of gray and a center that is barely pink.

• Well done meat is browned on the surface and gray on the inside.

I Compare How do high-heat cooking and low-heat cooking affect meat?


Analysis Notice the different odors and colors as the mixture heats. Write a paragraph describing them.

NSES B Develop an understanding of chemical reactions.


5. Marco finds an old recipe with temperatures given in degrees Celsius. To what internal temperature should he cook pork? If he cooks a hamburger to 70°C, is that a safe temperature? ^^^^^ Converting Temperatures Convert temperatures from Fahrenheit (F) to Celsius (C) using the formula C = (F - 32) X 5/9. To convert °C to °F, use the formula F = (95 X C) + 32.

Starting Hint Remember, pork should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F. Convert this temperature to °C using the correct formula. Convert 70°C to °F using the correct formula, and determine if it is the correct temperature for ground beef.

NCSS VIII B Science, Technology, and Society Make judgments about how science and technology have transformed the physical world and human society.

l^j Science

4. Procedure Put a teaspoon of corn syrup in a nonstick skillet. Open an amino acid caplet from a health food store and smell the powder inside. Pour the amino acid in the skillet and turn the heat to high. Move the skillet back and forth to disperse the powder.

NCTM Measurement Understand measurable attributes of objects and the units, systems, and processes of measurement.

Bji Check your answers at this book's Online Learning Center at

Continue reading here: Review and Applications

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  • Nadine
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    What are the principles involved to grill meat?
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    What are the principles of lowheat cooking meats?
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    What are the principles in cooking meat?
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