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The ABC of cooking choice meat cuts

Saturday November 2 2019

Some choice meat cuts that cattle, poultry, sheep and goats offer.

Some choice meat cuts that cattle, poultry, sheep and goats offer. There are various methods of preparing the different meat cuts. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

FAITH NDUNGI
By FAITH NDUNGI
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We have spent the past months explaining how to grow the best crops and produce quality meat, eggs and milk from your livestock.

Today, we share with you the various ways of cooking those choice meat cuts that cattle, poultry, sheep and goats offer.

Beef

The best beef cuts come from ribs, brisket, short loin, sirloin, round, chuck, flank and plate. There are various methods of preparing the different cuts.

The beef rib cut is classified into rib eye steak and rib steak from the small end, both of which are suitable for broiling or pan-frying.

Rib eye roast and rib roast from the small end are suitable for roasting. Back ribs are best braised – that is, cooked in liquid – and rib roast from large end is excellent for roasting.

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The brisket cut is classified into corned brisket and brisket that are both best braised. The short loin cut is categorised into T-bone steak and tenderloin, both suitable cuts for roasting or broiling.

Then there is the boneless tenderloin steak, porterhouse steak and tenderloin steak, all of which are excellent for broiling, pan-broiling or pan-frying.

Sirloin cut is categorised into sirloin steak, flat bone, round bone and top sirloin steak, all of which are best braised, pan-broiled or pan-fried.

Round cut is classified into boneless rump roast, bottom round roast, top round roast, eye round roast, tip roast, cap off, round steak, tip steak and top round steak, which are excellent for roasting or braising.

Chuck cut, on the other hand, is classified into cross rib pot roast, arm rib pot roast, boneless shoulder pot roast, boneless top blade steak, under blade pot roast, flank style ribs, blade roast, short ribs and chuck eye roast, all of which are suitable for braising.

Flank and short plate cuts are classified into flank steak, skirt steak and flank steak rolls, which are best broiled, braised or pan-fried.

Some of the preferred beef cuts for broiling are filet mignon steak, strip loin, steak, rib-eye steak, top butt sirloin steak, chuck tender steak and top round steak.

Grilling and broiling refer to a similar cooking process but with one difference. When grilling, the heat source is below, as with a barbecue grill, but in broiling, the heat source is above. Both grilling and broiling involve intense direct heat.

Some of the preferred beef cuts for stewing are boneless chuck, heel of round, flank steak, top rib, shin of beef, and plate.

Stewing is a long, slow method of cooking where meat is cut into pieces and boiled in water, stock or sauce. The food and cooking liquid are served together.

Best cuts for braising are top round, top sirloin, chuck shoulder, bottom round, chuck blade steak, flank steak and short ribs.

Braising is frying food lightly and then stewing it slowly in a closed container. Some of the preferred beef cuts for pan-frying are top round steak, top sirloin steak, shoulder steak, chicken steak, bottom round steak, eye round steak and flank steak.

Compared to shallow frying and deep frying, little oil, just enough to lubricate the pan, is used in pan-frying. In the case of fatty food, no cooking oil or fat is added.

Clockwise from top left; veal, fish, pork and lamb.

Clockwise from top left; veal, fish, pork and lamb. To achieve a healthy diet, choosing lean meat cuts and following guidelines for reduced fat cooking, are recommended. FILE PHOTOS | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Preferred beef cuts for pot roasts are centre-cut chuck, chuck shoulder, rump roast, bottom round, top rib, brisket and plate.

Pot roasting is cooking meat slowly in a covered dish. A braised beef dish is made by browning a piece of beef before slow-cooking it in a covered dish.

Other beef cuts include ground/minced beef that is best broiled, pan-fried, pan-broiled, roasted or baked and cubed steak that is best braised, broiled, pan-broiled or pan-fried

Veal

Veal is calf meat. The rib and loin sections of a calf are divided into chop and roast cuts. The hind legs are tender enough for roasts.

Cuts from the neck, shoulder, breast, chuck and shanks are less tender, hence require moist-heat cooking methods. Arm steak, loin chop, rib chop, blade steak and leg cutlets are best braised or pan-fried; riblet is best braised.

Pork

Preferred pork steaks and chops suitable for pan-frying are centre-cut loin chop, centre-cut rib chop, loin end chop, fresh ham steak, shoulder arm steak and blade pork steak. Chops are one of the most familiar pork cuts.

They can be prepared by pan-broiling, grilling, broiling, roasting, sautéing or braising. Thin chops are best sautéed while thicker chops can be grilled, roasted, braised or pan-broiled.

Chops are classified into sirloin, centre-cut loin, blade steak, pork rib, pork loin chop and boneless pork sirloin chop.

Pork tenderloins are among the leanest cuts of pork. The ribs are commonly used for barbecue meals and are excellent for slow-roasting or braising.

Pork roast is a large cut of pork from the loin, leg, shoulder or tenderloin; it can be roasted in the oven, barbecued over indirect heat or braised in an oven.

Lamb

The best lean lamb cuts include the rump, steak, shoulder and leg. If cut thin enough, lamb loin chops, ground/minced lamb, rib chops and sirloin chops can be pan-fried.

Roasting is suitable for the boneless lamb shoulder and boneless loin roast. For braising, stewing and moist cooking, shanks, leg and shoulder chops are the most preferred.

Chicken

Chicken can either be used as a whole bird or divided into cuts. Common chicken cuts include wings, breast, thighs and drumsticks.

Other chicken parts are the giblets that include the liver, heart, gizzard and neck. Wings can be broken down further into three parts, namely, wing tip, winglette and wing drumette.

The chicken breast is a lean cut from the pectoral muscle on the chicken underside. A whole chicken has one chicken breast with two halves, usually separated during the butchering process. The chicken breast can further be broken down and the tenderloins (fillets) removed.

Chicken (left) and beef meat cuts.

Chicken (left) and beef meat cuts. It is advisable to buy skinless poultry or removing the skin before cooking as this greatly reduces fat content. One should also remove fat from stews and soups by chilling them and skimming the hardened fat from the top. FILE PHOTOS | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The breast is the healthiest chicken part; it is white meat and has less cholestoral than dark parts (legs and wings).

The chicken leg can be broken down into the thigh and drumstick; the legs are split at the knee joint to separate the thigh from the drumstick.

The whole bird can be used for chicken stock making; it can also be roasted or grilled. Chicken breast can be stir-fried, marinated and grilled, pan-fried or oven roasted.

The breasts can also be baked or poached and used in sandwiches and salads or shredded and put into soups.

Tenderloins are more tender than the whole breast and are good for baking or grilling. Chicken thigh meat has a little more fat than the breast.

The thigh fillets can be stir-fried or baked. When the thigh and drumstick are not separated, this part is great for roasting and baking and can also be barbequed or grilled.

The wings and drumsticks are great baked in a marinade. Chicken giblets can be used to make gravy, stuffing or soup.

Lower fat meat cuts
To achieve a healthy diet, choosing lean meat cuts and following guidelines for reduced fat cooking, are recommended.

The lower fat meat cuts include round tip, top round, eye of round, top loin, tenderloin and sirloin for beef.

For pork, tenderloin, boneless top loin chop, lean cured ham and centre loin chops are the lean cuts. Skinless chicken breast, skinless chicken leg, skinless turkey dark meat and skinless turkey leg are the recommended lean cuts from the poultry category. Lamb loin chop and leg are the lean cut options.

Reducing fat content in meat

Keep your meat selections lean. Trim all visible fat and let the remainder drip off during cooking. When you prepare meat, broil, grill, bake or roast on a rack.

Buy skinless poultry or remove skin before cooking; this greatly reduces fat content. Remove fat from stews and soups by chilling them and skimming the hardened fat from the top.

Do not fry. The coating of breadcrumbs on chicken soaks up fat and after frying, you are less likely to remove this coating before eating the meat. The margarine and butter used on broiled food also increases fat content of meat.

Tenderise lean cuts of meat by cooking them in liquid or marinate them before cooking. Pounding, grinding and slicing across the grain also helps.

Ms Ndungi works in the Department of Human Nutrition, Egerton University.