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Old 03-07-2008, 03:46 PM
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Default Choosing and Preparing a Perfect Steak

USDA Prime: Beef of this grade is highly acceptable and palatable. The cattle that produces this grade of meat is young and has had careful, intensive feeding. Prime grade cuts have liberal marbling and are, therefore, juicy, tender, and full of flavor. Loin steaks of this grade are exceptionally tender.After choosing the desired cut and grade of beef, the consumer brings it home. If the meat will be cooked within six hours of purchase, it may be left in the package it came in. The object of safe meat storage is to let air circulate and keep the meat’s surface somewhat dry, inhibiting the growth of bacteria. If the meat will not be cooked until more than six hours later, it should be unwrapped from the Styrofoam and plastic wrap and stored wrapped loosely in wax paper in the coldest part of the refrigerator. It can be stored for up to three days. It can also be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to six months. To defrost a cut of beef, it should be placed in the refrigerator or allowed to stand at room temperature just until defrosted.
Cooking a Steak

Beef can be cooked in many ways, depending on the tenderness, size and thickness of the cut. There are two basic types of heat -- dry (without liquid) and moist (with steam or liquid).

* Dry heat is used to cook more tender cuts while moist heat helps tenderize tougher cuts. Methods of cooking with dry heat include roasting, broiling, pan-broiling, sautéing (pan-frying), and rotisserie cooking.
* Moist heat cooking methods include: braising, stewing, soup-making, and pressure cooking. Because the filet mignon is one of the most tender cuts in the carcass, it is cooked using dry heat. It is usually cooked quickly by broiling, grilling, or sautéing. A slice of bacon is often wrapped around the edge of a filet mignon steak to give it flavor.


The length of time that a steak is cooked affects how done it is when served. Steaks can be cooked to three basic degrees: rare, medium, and well done.


* Beef that is cooked so that the middle is still quite pink is called rare. It has the most flavor and juiciness, but is not entirely safe because it has not been cooked long enough to kill all bacteria.
* Medium beef is still a bit red in the middle but is cooked more fully than rare steak. It has flavor and tenderness and is safe to eat.
* Well-done steak is thoroughly cooked with no pink color left. It has less flavor and tenderness than rare and medium steak, but is the safest to eat.
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