Many novice cooks and housewives are thinking about how to choose beef so that the acquired piece of meat is of high quality and juicy and tasty. And oddly enough, it’s not at all difficult to do this, the main thing is to clearly find out why beef is bought. We will discuss some of the subtleties of choosing this type of meat.
The choice of meat according to its purpose
First of all, before choosing beef, you should decide for yourself why you are buying meat and what you want to do with it. After all, it depends on its purpose which piece of carcass you have to choose, and how it should look. And first of all, for this you need to understand that the softest meat is the muscles that are least involved in the cow during its movement, and the hardest - the muscles that are constantly in motion. Therefore, if you plan to grill meat, for this purpose you should take the upper part of the carcass of the cow, starting from the back. If you want to try a cooked dish, then you need to take the lower part of the cow carcass, and the middle part is suitable for stewing.
Well, or you can remember that you can fry a rump or fillet, for baking fillet or tenderloin with a fat layer is suitable, and for stewing you need rumps, thighs or brisket. Every housewife knows that a rich broth can be prepared from a piece of meat with bones, tendons and cartilage.
What are the external criteria for choosing pork and beef
There are a lot of meat selection criteria, even for each cut they are different. The biggest misconception that I propose to remove from my head is that the meat should be “fresh” and “fresh”. If this is your criterion, then you will choose the most tasteless meat. The meat must undergo a ripening procedure, in other words, it must be laid down. Therefore, do not be scared if the meat is airy or dark in color. And this applies not only to beef, but also pork, lamb. At the same time, the meat should be sniffed - there should be no extraneous odors, except for a pronounced meat taste. There should also be no sticky mucus. And I do not understand people who buy veal, it is better to choose beef meat breeds, it has a dark scarlet color, as well as various fatty layers.
About the pork. I always choose ugly pork, with uneven body fat. This almost always suggests that the meat is from a small farm or meat production. It is also worth paying attention to size. The slaughter weight of meat pigs is more than 350 kilograms, which means that the same ribs cannot be the size of your palm.
What parts are better for what to buy
What matters is what you buy meat for. If you want to grill it, then it is better to take pork neck, ribs or flank from pork. If there is time for a daily marinade, then take a hip cut (in the market it is called a back or rump). If you want to stew, cook, smoke, bake, then a ham, a spatula and a loin will do. Breast and carbonate can be dried and salted.
Beef is also worth considering through the prism of "grill or not grill." There are not many soft parts in beef, so you should not evaluate it by the principle of softness and tenderness. If you want not to chew, choose the most expensive and tasteless part: fillet, tenderloin. Just tasteless, soft lean meat. For frying in a pan or grill, a thin beef edge, a thick edge, shoulder fillet, internal and external diaphragms, flank and so on are also suitable. For the first courses, I like beef neck the most: the perfect combination of meat and fat. Smoke better with beef brisket and ribs, sluggish - a rump, or, as it is now called, a ramp. But tartar is best obtained from the eye muscle, or, as it is also called, freakandon. Yes, the meat is quite tough, but very aromatic.
Where to buy meat
It is better to buy meat from your butcher, who is already as a member of your family, or, if there is none, the products of proven meat processing plants. The meat in the market and the meat in the shops is different. The stores mainly sell meat from industrial producers, but this does not mean that it is bad. Just different - to taste, packaging, packaging, appearance and so on.
At the same time, sellers deceive us from our meat illiteracy. Very often, shoulder blades are given as tenderloin, or, for example, pork tenderloin - as calf fillet. There is only one way to avoid such deception: buy meat more often, cook it, discuss it with friends, go to good meat restaurants and read literature. And also prohibit the expression "fresh meat".
The first sign by which meat should be chosen is its smell and color, since each type of meat has its own. For example, a lamb should have a more delicate smell than lamb, and good beef cannot smell rotten: it should smell fresh meat without any impurities (this smell cannot be described, I’m a chef for 20 years and, unfortunately, and I can’t describe how good meat smells).
Appearance and taste also depends on fattening: there is grass fattening, there is grain, there is corn or, say, mixed. Now to the color: the veal should be pink, the pork should be light. And beef is different. If we take our burenka, which we milk all our lives, and then kill for meat, then such meat should be bright red, without extraneous odors.
Much depends on what we want from meat. Each piece has its own purpose - stewing, frying, cooking and so on. If we buy meat in order to make soup, it should be shanks (if it is beef), as well as all kinds of cuts with bones. If we take our cow-burenka, then such meat is not suitable for anything but cutlets and stewing. And if you take the breed Aberdeen or limousine, for example, then they are more likely to be suitable for frying.
There is no such thing as a "place where it is better to buy meat." For some, the natural option is premium stores, while others love the markets. Everything is simple here: it depends on what the person is used to. And in order not to buy something different from an unscrupulous seller, instead of some clipping, you need to understand and know the physiology of the animal.
It is best if the meat is resting after slaughter. Moreover, now there are all kinds of aging chambers that allow the meat to cool, and many farmers began to buy them for aging meat. Post-slaughter time depends on what exactly they want from meat, and in some cases it reaches 120 days. In general, in the cells the meat is fermented, and this gives it an interesting taste.
Buying fresh meat
Fresh meat is valued more than frozen. There are several reasons: firstly, it is completely ready for cooking, and secondly, such meat is easier to choose and consider when buying.
- Color. Fresh beef has a saturated red color, without interspersing greenish or dark in color. The meat of an old animal has a brownish tint (from such meat - do not wait for a juicy and soft dish). Output: meat is only red.
- Fat. Fat should be pale white and dense - in this case, the meat is considered high-quality. In young beef, the fat even crumbles a little. Yellow fat indicates meat stiffness. The best kind of beef is considered to be marble meat - such meat is penetrated by small fatty layers. This meat is difficult to spoil in the cooking process - dishes from it will definitely turn out juicy. Output: fat is white and crumbles.
- Surface. A slight airing of the surface of the beef is allowed if it was cut several hours ago. The main thing is that on a piece of meat there should be no spots or crusts. Fresh beef is firm and dry to the touch. The edges of the cut may be slightly wet. To check this quality of beef you need to put your hand to a piece - the palm should remain dry. You should not buy meat that lies in puddles of blood, it is better to buy the windward meat than wet. Output: Fresh beef should be dry.
- Smell. It’s far from always possible to sniff meat, but if the seller allows you to do it, be sure to take advantage of this offer. Fresh meat smells nice, without additional smells. If in doubt, it is better to refuse to buy such beef. Output: There should be no unpleasant odor.
- Elasticity. If possible, it is worth conducting a test for sagging meat. If, when you press with your finger, the resulting fossa in the meat immediately smoothes out: you see fresh meat. Output: fresh meat elastic.
- Price. The price issue is rather complicated, because all meat is in about the same price category. But it is worth remembering that the meat of village cows fed on hay with grass will be better and more expensive than the meat of cows from a regular farm. Output: quality beef cannot be cheap.
Buying Frozen Beef
With proper freezing and thawing, frozen meat is almost impossible to distinguish from fresh meat. Beef thawing should occur only in the refrigerator and the longer the better.
- Production time. First of all, you need to look at the timing of the sale of meat, they should be indicated on the label. Shelf life of frozen beef is 10 months, veal is 8 months.
- The country of manufacture. Carefully consider who is the producer of beef. It is better to take meat produced domestically - it is likely to be fresh imported.
- Packaging. Be sure to pay attention to the integrity of the package. There should be no faults on the substrate, and the film should be intact.
- Color. In the process of freezing, beef does not change its color radically, so you should choose pieces with a lighter color. If the meat was stored without oxygen (it was in polyethylene or packed in a vacuum), then it can be dark red, but when thawed it will regain its correct color.
- Ice. The presence of a large amount of ice and snow on the packaging indicates that the product was either stored incorrectly or it was already defrosted. It is better to refuse such a purchase. The presence of ice is allowed only outside the package.
Choose beef for a specific dish
Some people can ruin a good piece of meat due to improper cooking. When going to the store for beef, you need to have a clear idea of why you will need it.
- For frying. Lean and soft meat are perfect for this. This is a loin, a thick edge, a thin edge or a rump.
- For baking. For baking, it is better to choose pieces of meat with fatty layers, in which case the meat will be moderately juicy and soft. Suitable loin, tenderloin.
- To extinguish. Less lean beef is suitable for this cooking method. Thick edge, thighs, brisket, rumps are well stewed.
- For soup. Beef broth should be light, moderately fat and saturated. For rich broths, beef with cartilage, tendons, large bones is suitable.
- On aspic. The shank, shank and tail are indispensable for aspic. The ratio of bones and meat should be the same. It is in the lower leg that contains substances that make jelly gelatinous, so no gelatin is needed here.
The ability to choose meat comes with experience, which in turn has been developed over the years. Nevertheless, the advice that is before you will be useful when buying a good piece of beef!
Meat in the market
The first thing that people usually pay attention to when buying meat is its color. But such an approach is amateurism. The color of meat is very important, but you need to start from another. The most important thing is to choose that part of the carcass, the meat from which will be optimally suited to your intended meal. That is why the butchers are often interested in what you are going to cook, and only then offer one or another cut. Tender tenderloin is excellent meat, but not when you are going to cook aspic. You can buy a great piece of beef and hopelessly ruin it during cooking. Therefore, first we look out for the desired cut on the counter, and then we begin to examine it for suitability.
So the color. Good fresh meat is not greenish or black, does not cast gasoline stains - it pleases us with all shades of red. Fresh beef is just red, lamb is a little darker than beef, pork is pink, veal is saturated pink. Skilled sellers refresh stale meat, soaking it in a solution of potassium permanganate. This trick can be revealed by looking at the color of fat and bones: potassium permanganate will paint them pinkish and yellow.
Yellow fat is a sign of an old animal. This means that such meat will be tough, and it will take longer to cook. Good young beef has white fat and crumbles, high-quality pork is characterized by white-pink elastic layers of fat. The highest grade of beef is marbled beef, in which the meat is evenly penetrated by fatty veins. When cooking, such meat is especially tender and juicy.
The surface of the meat may be slightly weathered if you arrived at the market for dinner, and not in the morning, when the carcasses have just been cut. Fresh meat has an elastic texture and is almost dry to the touch: it does not stick to the hands, it is not covered with mucus.
The smell of meat is an excellent marker of freshness. The presence of even a subtle unpleasant odor in the meat is an occasion to instantly turn around and go look for another butcher. But there is subtlety. Uncastrated pig meat, for example, can look and smell raw just perfect. But when cooked, such meat will clearly smell urine, depriving you of not only a good mood, but also dinner. To protect yourself from such surprises, you can ask the butcher to cut off a microscopic piece from the selected cut and set fire to it with a lighter or match. It smells of barbecue - feel free to buy, it smells unpleasant - the purchase is canceled.
Meat in the store
Unfortunately, there are no generous butcher consultants in the store. So you need to understand it yourself. Having fished a frozen briquette from the refrigerator, read the label first. It at least says when the product was produced and how long it is valid. A large amount of meat sold in retail chains is imported. Meat is brought from Poland, from Argentina, and even from Australia. Of course, frozen, it has gloriously gone a long way to the shelves of your store. For minced meat, such meat may come down, but a steak from it will be similar to the sole.
If possible, choose meat from local producers. It is definitely fresh than imported, and the technology for raising livestock is still not so advanced, so the level of hormones and antibiotics in meat from local cows will not go through the roof.
If the packaging of meat brought home during defrosting began to exude miasma, bring it back to the store - you bought rotten meat. Most likely, the money will be returned to you without any disputes.
When buying chilled meat, pay attention to the integrity of the package. There should be no cracks in the foam backing or holes in the plastic film. Make sure the meat has not expired.
And finally, advice: do not fall for the tricks of marketers. “Natural beef” is a term as meaningless as the “cholesterol-free” mark on bottles of mineral water. However, free-range beef and not fattened with fishmeal and animal feed, but with grass and hay, is indeed better in quality and more expensive than cows from a regular farm.
Market or supermarket
Many confidently believe that it is best to buy beef in a supermarket, where it is already packaged and frozen. However, this is not at all the case, since the store meat most often does not breathe, and loses many of its useful properties while it is under a plastic film. Therefore, it is better to go buy meat to the market. However, despite the fact that the bazaar is the best place to buy this product, when deciding on how to choose beef in the market, it is important to know about several nuances. And first of all, it is better to go around the counter, where next to the meat you will see puddles of water, which are formed due to the fact that sellers spray it with beef to make it look better. So they mask the loss of quality. But if the meat looks slightly dried, then this is not at all scary and will not affect the quality of the product.
Beef Selection Rules
So, you have already decided on the choice of part of the carcass of the cow and the place of purchase. Now it’s very important to remember how to choose beef from among many pieces of meat, so that you don’t regret your decision.
- In no case can you choose meat, focusing on its low cost, because a good quality product cannot be cheap at all, and even for the highest quality marbled beef you will have to pay a tidy sum.
- You should take a good look at the product, since its appearance can tell a lot about its quality.
- It is advisable to sniff a piece of beef offered to you by the seller to make sure that it has a pleasant aroma, because otherwise it will indicate that the meat has deteriorated.
- If possible, you need to touch the beef to determine if loose meat is given to you, and try to choose the piece that turns out to be the most elastic.
Как выбирать говядину по внешнему виду
Главное, на что нужно обратить самое пристальное внимание - это на внешний вид, предоставленного вам куска. First of all, the color of the meat should be even, without any dark spots and greens, which indicate a deterioration in its quality. The color itself should be bright red, which confirms the freshness of beef, while the red-brown color of the meat will signal to the watchful buyer that the beef is already old and not at all fresh. It is also important to look at the fatty layers, which in the fresh piece will be white, the yellowish color of the layers will tell that the cow has lived to a very old age. Plus, you definitely need to make sure that there are no crusts on the meat, which indicate that it has been sold unsuccessfully for a long time, which means that you can’t take such beef.
How to choose meat by smell
When buying meat, it is very important to sniff at a piece. Beef should smell good and not have any odors. After all, if the smell of onions, vinegar, various spices comes from meat, then this indicates that its shelf life has expired, and they want to sell it soon. The absence of at least some smell from meat should also alert, because this suggests that the cow was raised with harmful chemical additives that accelerate its growth, which means that such a product will be very unhealthy. And, finally, in no case should you take beef from which a rotten odor emanates, because such meat has spoiled a long time ago, which means that you need to leave the counter as soon as possible.
Choose meat by touching a piece
If you have not yet been able to make a choice, simply by smelling or looking at a piece, then the last option on how to choose beef meat in the market can be considered a touch to it. To do this, simply touch the beef with your finger and immediately go away if the meat is sticky or wet. In addition, it is important that the finger pit on the beef is immediately smoothed out, which will show the vigilant buyer its high quality. If the dent is not smoothed out, then this meat is already old, and after cooking the beef will be very stiff.
Steak Meat Selection
When choosing meat, the most difficult thing is to find a suitable piece for cooking steak, even in the oven, at least on the grill, at least on the fire. Therefore, if you decide to cook this delicious dish, it is important to remember how to choose meat for beef steak, so that in ready-made form it will shock everyone with its unique taste, aroma and look.
First of all, you should pay attention to the cut of meat, if it is perfectly flat, then everything is fine with beef, but if it resembles a ladder, then most likely a piece of meat was cut frozen, lost its taste, so it’s cooked unevenly will lose more moisture than necessary and will be completely inedible. You also need to pay attention to the color of the beef for the steak, which should be natural, not have pale or dark spots. The pale color of beef, which is similar to pork, is absolutely not suitable for us, because the steak will fry too much. You should also pay attention to the thickness of the meat piece, which should vary within 3-5 cm.
Now that you already know how to choose good beef, it is very important to remember how to store this meat. So, after the purchase, it is very important to put the meat in the refrigerator without cutting it, and you can keep it there for three to four days. It is very important to put the beef in the refrigerator, wrapping it in a paper bag or waffle towel. But the meat should not be wrapped in a plastic bag, nor can it be stored wrapped in film, because bacteria can get into it in this way. The maximum shelf life in the refrigerator at a temperature of 0-7 ° C is one week, and in the freezer - up to six months. However, storing meat in the freezer for a long time is not recommended, because it will lose its taste and all useful properties.