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Make a match: There are as many ways to prepare beef as there are reasons to love beef. Match your steak or roast to the proper cooking method to ensure tender results. For example, the filet mignon, T-Bone and sirloin taste best when cooked using dry heat, which is characterized by quick cooking at higher temperatures. Grilling, broiling, or cooking with a skillet are examples of cooking with dry heat. For less tender cuts such as a chuck roast or bottom round roast, moist heat cooking techniques, such as braising and stewing, are best.
Hit the right temperature: Insert an instant-read thermometer horizontally into the side of a steak to check doneness. Aim for a reading between 145 degrees F (medium rare) to160 degrees F (medium), which are the ideal temperatures for tender, juicy steaks.
Bring out the best: Pair a marinade or rub with the appropriate cut to bring out the best in beef.
For naturally tender steaks such as flat iron, ribeye, top sirloin, top loin, tenderloin, porterhouse and T-bone, apply a simple rub made with fresh herbs, garlic and spices for at least 15 minutes, but no more than 2 hours.
For less-tender steaks such as the top round, flank or skirt, a marinade incorporating an acidic ingredient such as vinegar, wine or citrus juice, will tenderize and add flavor. For best results,marinate these cuts at least six hours, but no more than 24 hours.
Create perfect chemistry: Beef develops its desirable flavor and aroma during the cooking process, especially when browned. Browning causes beef’s proteins and carbohydrates to caramelize, resulting in a burst of intense flavor that’s sure to seduce beef lovers. Use a medium-heat setting and be sure not to crowd the pan for optimum browning and flavor development.
Unleash the power: Umami, which comes from the Japanese word for “delicious,” is the fifth taste described as meaty or savory. To amp up the flavor intensity of already-delicious beef, marry it with other natural sources of umami, like mushrooms, tomatoes or aged cheese, for a synergistic flavor explosion.
Practice safe serving: Keep raw meat separate from other foods both in the refrigerator and during preparation. Wash hands, all utensils and surfaces in hot, soapy water after contact with raw meat.
Never place cooked meat on platters that held raw meat. Use clean serving platters and utensils. Serve cooked food promptly and refrigerate immediately after serving (within two hours after cooking).
Extend the love: Instead of buying pre-prepared beef for kabobs, stew and stir-fry, save money by buying steaks or roasts and cutting them into cubes or strips. Or, purchase boneless roasts to cut into steaks. Plan ahead and freeze your beef for six to 12 months.
Courtesy of Dave Zino, executive chef, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.