Three main factors determine the juiciness—or, more accurately, the perception of juiciness—in cooked meat. Despite the myths about basting with stock and about searing meat to "seal in the juices," the following are the only factors that have any significant effect on juiciness.

1. Internal fat.

Fat makes meat taste juicy. This is why well-marbled meats taste juicier than lean meats.We understand the health effects of too much fat in the diet, but there is no getting around the fact that high fat content makes meat taste juicier.When lean meats are cooked, other measures (such as using sauces and, especially, avoiding overcooking) are used to increase palatability.

2. Gelatin.

This factor is most important in braised meats. Gelatin, converted from connective tissue, helps bind water molecules and hold them in the meat. Also, the texture of the gelatin improves the texture of the meat in the mouth.This is why braised beef shank tastes so much juicier than braised outside round.

3. Protein coagulation.

As you know, as protein coagulates or is cooked, it breaks down and begins to lose water. The more it is cooked, the more it contracts and forces out moisture. No mat-

ter how much you try to sear to "seal in the juices," this moisture will be lost.The only way to minimize the loss is to avoid overcooking.

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