From wings to ribs, we eat a lot of meat in the United States. However, it isn’t just the quality of the meat that determines how good a meal is but how you cook it as well. Cooking meat perfectly can be a bit of a challenge if you aren’t sure how to do it. Luckily, there are some tips and tricks you can use to get the perfect meal every time.
Start by Cooking in the Right Place
There are a few different methods to cook meat. For instance, you can throw a steak on your stove or your wings on the grill.
An option that doesn’t always come to mind right away is to invest in a smoker. There are plenty of different kinds of smokers but an all-encompassing option is to consider an offset smoker with heavy-steal construction. These are a great idea not only for how they work but for how affordable they are as well. There are plenty of smokers you can pick without breaking the $1,000 mark. For instance, the Dyna-Glo Charcoal Offset Smoker will run you under $200.
Marinating vs. Dry Rub
Especially when it comes to steaks and ribs, you aren’t going to want to throw them on the heat bare. Instead, you’re going to want to either marinate your meat or use a dry rub.
Both of these methods have their own benefits and drawbacks. Each of these options is made to add flavor to your meat which is their primary purpose. The details of these techniques are pretty different, though.
A dry rub, as the name suggests, doesn’t have any liquid components. It uses plenty of components that pack a real punch. While the exact ingredients used in a dry rub can vary, some of the most common ingredients used are brown sugar, salt, and seasonings like paprika. It can also add some texture as well as flavor. If you’re using a dry rub, you should add it to your meat an hour before you start to cook it.
A marinade is an exact opposite in that it’s a liquid-based process. Much like a dry rub, they use a mixture of spices. They may also use butter but they should always use an acidic element like citrus or vinegar. This has a dual benefit: it can tenderize tough cuts of meat as well as add a lot of flavor. The citrus element is especially good at tenderizing and locking in flavor.
A marinade can take quite a bit longer to work than a dry rub. For chicken, steak, and pork, you should plan to marinate for 12 to 24 hours.
Be Careful with the Heat
A lot of people make the mistake that thoroughly cooking means turning your burner on the highest setting it offers. What that’s more likely to do, though, is leave you with an undercooked inside and a burnt outside. An intense sear can also take away from the flavor of the meat.
Meats like chicken need to be cooked thoroughly but not burnt. So, when you’re cooking chicken, you should let it cook slowly. This will make sure it’s cooked through without leaving you with a burnt outer layer.
When it comes to steak, you have a little more room to experiment because it’s safe to eat it at anything from rare to well-done. If you have always stuck to well-done until now, try it medium-rare or medium-well. This can be a point of anxiety for many cooks who are afraid of undercooking meat but it isn’t as hard as you might think. You might be surprised at how well it tastes!
How to Cook a Killer Steak
There is a simple method that a lot of talented and even professional chefs use for cooking the perfect steak: the 3-3-2-2 method. For a well-done steak, you can up this method to a 3-3-3-3 ratio. It’s easy to remember and just as easy to do. This is for cutting a standard steak around ½ to 1 inch. If you’re going for a larger or thicker steak, it might need a little more time.
You’re going to want to set your pan on medium heat. A cast-iron skillet is the best choice but any heavy pan will do in a pinch.
Once it’s heated up, you’re going to want to add some olive oil – a few tablespoons will do the trick. This will add flavor and, just as important, prevent your steak from sticking to the pan. Now that the pan is at full heat, place your steak on it for three minutes. Don’t touch or slide it, just let it alone for three minutes. Flip it and repeat that on the other side. Then flip it for two minutes on the first side and two minutes on the other.
After this, take your steak out and set on a plate to rest for five minutes before cutting it. Cutting it right away will make the meat lose its juices. In other words, it would reduce how tender and flavorful the steak is.
How to Know When Chicken Is Done
If there’s one meat that you absolutely need to be done all the way through, it’s chicken. But, you don’t want to make the mistake of depending on an unwanted sign such as burning.
The best way to check is to use a meat thermometer and take the chicken off when the internal meat reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Unfortunately, not everyone has a meat thermometer handy. The good news is that you can look for signs such as the meat shrinking or by making an incision to check the color inside. Chicken, specifically, also leaks white juice when it’s cooked through but if it still has a pink tint, your chicken isn’t done.
Being able to cook meat is a skill that most people want to have under their belt. While it can seem like an intimidating endeavor but with tips like these, you’ll be making perfect meals in no time!