Latin Touch Meat Guides Beef: Part One
~Chef Perry Perkins~
Humans have been eating beef since prehistoric times, and for good reason. Pound for pound, beef is one of the best sources of high-quality protein and nutrients. It’s also the third most widely eaten meat in the world, accounting for about 25% of modern meat production, after pork and poultry.
I love beef. It’s such a straightforward and simple food to cook. Though can get fancy with it, if you want to, all you really need is a little salt and heat to create one of the most delicious foods on the planet. Loaded with health-promoting amino acids, and it’s one of the single biggest sources of protein in the human diet.
How much to serve:
I recommend 8oz (½ lb) per “average” person, or ¾ lb (12 oz) for big and lovers of leftovers.
“Grass fed” beef refers to cattle which were allowed to graze for their own fresh forage, possibly supplemented with some alfalfa during the winter, providing the closest approximation to the animal’s natural diet.
Grains, which are much higher in calories, allows you to grow cows much faster and cheaper, but lacks many key nutrients like Omega-3s and B vitamins.
Grass feeding takes longer, which reflects in more expensive beef, but the result is steaks and roasts that are leaner, healthier, and have a much richer, beefier flavor.
Organic products, including meat animals, must be produced and raised without synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, or GMOs and managed using conservation and sustainability techniques.
Organic beef is produced in such a way that ensures both the health and welfare of the animals. Allowing for no antibiotics or added growth hormones, requiring organic feed and year-round access to the outdoors. From an eating standpoint, happy and healthy animals taste better.
Dry aged beef is hung in humidity-controlled coolers, usually for at least 30 days, and often much more. As the meat ages, moisture escapes and the beef shrinks in size (up to 15%), concentrating its flavor, and softening the meat. The result an extraordinarily rich flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture. Dry aging also requires additional trimming before cooking, sometimes up to 50%, all of which helps to explain the very high price-tag on dry-aged beef.
Wet aging is done by sealing the meat in a plastic bag, and aging in a refrigerated room. 3 weeks is the minimum aging required for any beef, and natural (grass fed) requires more than 6 weeks to break-down and tenderize.
The truth is, many times you’ll find that that supermarket steak is unusually tough simply because it hasn’t aged long enough.
In Part Two, we’ll take a look at some specific cuts of beef that are best for grilling, including flat-iron, loin cuts, flank, strip, and skirt.
See you then!
As a third-generation chef, Perry P. Perkins focuses his love of cooking on barbeque, traditional southern fare, and fresh Northwest cuisine.
Perry runs the non-profit organization, MY KITCHEN Outreach Program, which teaches nutrition, shopping, and hands on cooking classes for at risk youth.
His cookbooks include La Caja China Cooking, La Caja China World, La Caja China Party, and the NEW “La Caja China Grill.”
You can follow the rest of Chef Perry’s cooking adventures at ChefPerryPerkins.com