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Cooking Meats

Cooking tips for the caring cook.

When cooking meats it is important to know how to cook them safely and properly. Try these tips.


Cook Up Marvelous Meats

  • For a juicer hamburger add cold water to the beef before grilling (1/2-cup to 1 pound of meat).
  • Add a dash - or several depending on taste - of hot sauce to ground round when you make hamburgers. It brings out the flavor of the meat.
  • When frying meat, sprinkle paprika over it to turn it golden brown.
  • Allow meat to stand at room temperature one hour before cooking (but no more than one hour!) It will cook more quickly, brown more evenly, and stick less when pan-fried. (Note: Do not do this with highly perishable meats like ground beef and organ meats.)
  • It's important to let a roast -- beef, pork, lamb or poultry - sit a little while before carving. That allows the juices to retreat back into the meat. If you carve a roast too soon, much of its goodness will spill out onto the carving board.
  • Thaw frozen meat and poultry in the refrigerator and not on the kitchen counter where bacteria can grow.
  • When braising meat, cook it at a low temperature for a long time to keep the meat tender and have it retain all the juices.
  • Chefs pound meat not to tenderize the meat, but to help even the meat so it cooks evenly.
  • Glaze a roast (pork, beef, lamb, or poultry) by brushing on a fruit flavored jam fifteen to twenty minutes before it is done. This adds an attractive sheen to the meat and gives a sweet tasting flavor. It will also add a delightful flavor to the pan juices when making a sauce.

Cooking Meats

  • Pan fried. For even, deep browning of pan-fried meat and poultry, blot the surface of the item with paper towels to remove excess moisture before cooking.
  • Hot Dogs. When you leave the grocery store with hot dogs, head straight home and refrigerate or freeze them immediately. If there is no product date, hot dogs can be safely stored in the unopened package for 2 weeks in the refrigerator; once opened, only 1 week. For maximum quality, freeze hot dogs no longer than 1 or 2 months. And, of course, never leave hot dogs at room temperature for more than 2 hours and no more than 1 hour when the temperature goes above 90 degrees.
  • Corned beef. After cooking a whole corned beef, cut it into several pieces for faster cooling - or slice it, if you like. Place the beef in small, shallow containers and cool it in the refrigerator quickly.
  • Partially cooking beef. Never brown or partially cook beef to refrigerate and finish cooking later because any bacteria present wouldn't have been destroyed. It is safe to partially pre-cook or microwave beef immediately before transferring it to the hot grill to finish cooking.
  • Ham. Both whole or half, cooked, vacuum packaged hams packaged in federally inspected plants and canned hams can be eaten cold, right out of the package. However, if you want to reheat these cooked hams, set the oven no lower than 325 degrees and heat to an internal temperature of 140 degrees as measured with a food thermometer. Cook before-eating hams or fresh hams must reach 160 degrees to be safely cooked before serving. Cook in an oven set no lower than 325 degrees.
  • Country Hams. Country hams can be soaked 4 to 12 hours or longer in the refrigerator to reduce the salt content before cooking. Then they can be cooked by boiling or baking. Follow the manufacturer's cooking instructions.
  • Ground pork. For safety, the USDA recommends cooking ground pork patties and ground pork mixtures such as meat loaf to 160 degrees. Whole muscle meats such as chops and roasts should be cooked to 160 degrees.

Meat Grinder

Clear clogged holes in a meat grinder by rapping the grinder plate several times against the edge of the counter.

If your grinder is dirty or extra greasy, run a piece of bread through it, then wash it.

Did you know?

  • To help clean raw meats and poultry, rinse them with lemon before preparing and cooking.
  • You should always thaw frozen meat and poultry in the refrigerator and not on the kitchen counter where bacteria can grow.

Cleaning Raw Meats

Cleaning Raw Meats

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