CHOOSING THE RIGHT CUT OF MEAT…
Congratulations. You’ve made the important first step by coming to us for advice. These days many people rely on the convenience of buying prepacked meat from supermarkets. But here at Machin’s you don’t just get old-fashioned service; you also get a greater variety of cuts of meat. We also pride ourselves on being able to tell you where our meat has come from, the breed and offer valuable advice on how to prepare and cook the meat.
It’s a fair bet that, unless you studied Home Economics at school, your great granny had a better idea of the different cuts of meat than you have. That’s why we’ve put together this definitive guide to the different cuts of meat from each animal. Armed with this, you won’t go wrong when it comes to selecting the right cut of meat and finding out the best way to cook it.
Never assume that only expensive cuts will automatically taste best no matter how you cook them. The simple fact is that different cuts of meat have different muscle structures and need varying cooking techniques. Even the priciest piece of meat can be ruined if cooked the wrong way.
‘We’ve been using Gabriel Machin to supply our restaurants for the past eight years. They smoke their own bacon and salmon, makes sausages and sell great fish and cheese. It’s the way butchers should be if they want to compete with supermarkets.’Antony Worrall Thompson
Before you come to us, it’s essential to ask yourself a few basic questions.
- What is my budget?
- How many people am I cooking for?
- How much time can I allow for cooking?
Once we have that information, we an advise you on the best cut of meat and the ideal cooking style to really bring out the flavour of the meat you’ve chosen.
Our customers often ask us how much meat to allow per person. This is tricky as very often any leftovers are a valuable ingredient for a meal later in the week. Stews and casseroles improve with keeping and who can resist a cold roast beef sandwich with lashings of mustard? But, as a rough guide, we say that for boneless meat you should allow around 4-6oz/100-175g per person. For meat on the bone, allow 8-10oz/225-275g per person.
As a general rule, it’s a good idea to wipe a piece of meat with a damp paper towel and then pat it dry before cooking. This prepares the surface for cooking and will help it to brown nicely.
Now we’ll take you back to the basics and have a look at the different styles of cooking.
This is one of the quickest methods of cooking but is only suitable for small tender cuts of meat such as chops and steaks. First the meat is grilled under fierce heat to seal in the juices. Then, for a thick slice, the heat is reduced until the meat is cooked to personal taste – rare, medium rare or well done.
Grilling cuts and times
|Loin chops||6-8 mins||Baste well.|
|Shoulder chops||12-18 minutes||Brush frequently with oil.|
|Kebabs (using leg or neck fillet)||12-15 mins||Turn frequently. Ideal on BBQ|
|Fillet steak (minimum 1/2 inch thick)||6-8 mins||Grilling times are for medium Rare|
|Rump steak(1/2in/1.25in thick)||7-10 mins|
|Loin chops||12-15 mins||Baste with pan juices|
|Kebabs (using tenderloin)||14-18 mins||Brush with oil regularly|
SHALLOW FRYING OR GRIDDLING
Suitable only for small cuts of top quality tender meat. A heavy-based frying pan or griddle is recommended as this distributes the heat evenly. The griddle gives the meat a nice finish. Which fats should you use? Well, vegetable fats are ideal for shallow frying as they can be heated to high temperatures without burning. For a richer flavour, use a combination of vegetable oil and butter but be careful not to let it burn before adding the meat.
Ian’s top tips for successful shallow frying or griddling
- A good way to tenderise boneless steaks and escalopes before cooking is to cover them with clingfilm and bash with a rolling pin.
- Heat the pan thoroughly and add fat. Only when the fat is sizzling should you add the meat. Cook over a high heat for 1-2 minutes. The meat should be sealed and lightly browned.
- Turn and repeat on the other side. Then reduce heat and continue frying gently turning several times until cooked to personal taste.
- Press the meat with the flat of a knife to check if meat is cooked. Medium rare beef steaks should feel firm but a little springy. Pork should feel firm and lamb should be firm but with a little ‘give.’
- Drain and serve.
Beef comes from a larger and older animal than lamb or pig. What this means for you is that the muscular structure varies widely across the animal. The most active parts develop stronger muscle and need longer, slower cooking in liquid to tenderize them. Shoulder meat may be lean but as an active muscle, it should never be grilled. Usually sold as braising steak (there’s a helpful clue for you!), it will melt in the mouth if you braise it with veg and stock on a slow heat for a long time. You’ll have a delicious stew to serve up to your loved ones.
With regards to a joint of beef for roasting, you now have the choice of buying it either on the bone or off. Since bone is a good conductor of heat this will help with the cooking process. But a boned, rolled joint is much easier to carve.
|CUT||WHAT EXACTLY IS IT?||IAN’S COOKING ADVICE|
|Sirloin||Top roasting joint. Fine Grained meat next to the rump. Is available on the bone but Can also be boned and rolled.||Roast and serve with Roast spuds,Yorkshire pudding and veg of your choice.|
|Topside||Prime roasting cut from the inner top part of the leg. Boneless.||Cook as sirloin. Or pot roast if meat. Not top quality.|
|Silverside||A coarser-grained cut than topside.||Braise or Pot roast.|
|Brisket||Coarse grained meat from the belly Area.||Braise or pot roast with veg for min of 3-31/2 hours.|
|Braising Steak||Lean meat from the shoulderarea. (chuck And blade)||Use for casseroles And stews prepared by the fry start method. Minimum 2 hours cooking. Or use in pies and puddings.|
|Stewing Beef (neck, clod, Leg, shin)||Lean but muscular cuts that need moisture and long slow cooking to tenderize.||Use for casseroles and stews prepared by the Cold start method. Minimum 3-4 hours cooking.|
|Ground Beef||Lean, good quality beef finely ground.||Use for beefburgers and Any quickcook mince recipe. Season well.|
|Mince||Coarsely ground beef.||Best used for recipes Including tomatoes.|
|Fillet Steak||Tenderest and most expensive steak of all From the underside of the Sirloin. Very lean.||Can be grilled or open fried. For a change, wrap in pastry and roast.|
|Rump Steak||The cut next to the sirloin. Extremely tasty.||Grill or fry with onions.|
|Sirloin||Lean prime steak (thick cut)||Grill or fry with onions.|
|Minute Steak||Thin cut sirloin (5mm/1/4in) can be flattened by beating Between greaseproof paper Before cooking)||Open fry for about 1½ to 2 minutes each side.|
Our great grans would only eat pork when there was an ‘r’ in the month. That was great advice in the days before modern refrigeration methods. But these days it’s fine to eat pork all year round. However, it’s worth taking note that pork is a highly perishable meat and should be eaten as fresh as possible. Keep it refrigerated and cook within a couple of days of purchase.
Good quality young pork has distinctive firm, dry, pale pink flesh with a thin covering of creamy white fat and a smooth supple rind.
Top tips for cooking pork
All cuts of young pork make excellent roasts but, unlike some other meats, pork must always be thoroughly cooked right through to the centre. The best method is by slow roasting.
‘Bargain’ cuts such as shoulder, hand and belly make excellent pies and casseroles as well as good small roasts. Pork is often mixed with other meats and used to enrich leaner meats in casseroles and pates.
|CUT||WHAT EXACTLY IS IT?||IAN’S COOKING ADVICE|
|Loin joints||Prime roasting Meat with thin Covering of fat.||Roast. Choose a joint With rind if You want crispy crackling|
|Loin chops (bone-in or boneless)||Individual portions cut between rib bones and trimmed.||Grill, Covered fry or Braise.|
|Leg: quarter Cut joint||Leg cut into 4 small joints.||Roast.|
|Leg: fillet end cut, Middle cut, and Knuckle end cut||Leg partially boned, rolled, tied and cut into 3 small joints.||Roast.|
|Leg: steak||Lean, boneless, leg Meat with no rind ½ to ¾ in/1.25-2 cm steaks||Covered fry or braise.|
|Shoulder joints||Well flavoured joints Weighing 1½ to 4lb/0.75-1.75 Kg, partially boned and tied. The neck end joint is slightly Fatter and cheaper.||Roast or dice for use in casseroles and pies.|
|Shoulder steaks||Individual pieces Of lean, boneless meat.||Grill slowly and Baste or fry gently.|
The weight and size of cuts of lamb also varies a little according to the age of the animal. Very young lamb is also a pale pink colour. This gradually deepens to a darker pink as the animal ages.
Ian’s top tips for cooking lamb:
- Lamb can be cooked by various methods. All cuts can be roasted with the exception of middle neck and scrag. Slow roasting seems to develop its full flavour.
- Young lamb is so flavoursome it can just be roasted or grilled. Later in the season you may want to give it extra flavour with a marinade, rosemary sprigs or garlic.
|CUT||WHAT EXACTLY IS IT?||IAN’S COOKING ADVICE|
|Whole leg||Prime lean lamb with a very thin covering of fat and skin.||Roast on bone or boned and stuffed.|
|Fillet half leg||Top half of the leg, a lean And meaty cut.||As above.|
|Whole shoulder||Economical family joint Of sweet, good flavoured Meat containing a proportion Of bone and fat.||Roast on bone or pot roast/roast boned and stuffed.|
|Loin chops||Individual portions cut Across loin and trimmed Ready for cooking.||Grill, fry/griddle or Covered fry.|
|Best end of neck: whole||Excellent small joint, Consisting of 5-6 rib cutlets.||Roast or buy 2 whole necks and prepare as a Crown|
|Best end of neck: Chops (cutlets)||Small chops cut betweenRib bones and trimmed. Allow two per portion.||Grill or fry/griddle|
|Neck: whole (scrag And middle neck)||Small bony chops - good flavour.||Hot pots and Casseroles.|
|Neck fillet||Tender boneless strip of Meat taken from neck of Large lambs.||Cube for kebabs and grills or thinly Slice and fry (cover with well Fitting lid)|
|Ground lamb||Minced lean lamb||Use for dishes such as moussake and cottage pie Or make into burgers Or Middle Eastern style Koftas. Grill or BBQ.|