You’ve selected a high quality meat, you’re hungry, and ready to cook it up! Here’s a few tips to ensure that the premium meat remains that way all the way to your plate.
A few general tips for success with any meat:
- If you don’t have a meat thermometer, get one. If you do, use it!
Cheap or expensive; analog or digital; instant read or leave in remote: as long as it works, it doesn’t matter! Just get one and use it. This will keep the meat from overcooking or having raw spots. It will also remove the temptation to cut a big slice in that steak or pork chop and let the juices (i.e. FLAVOR and moisture) from running out.
- Plan ahead and get that meat out of the refrigerator ahead of time!
Cooking meat straight from the fridge will most likely lead to a well done outside and a raw inside. To compensate and get the center done, we often overcook that previously moist and tender cut of meat to leather. Chefs recommend the meat be as close to room temperature as possible for best results. For most cuts of meat, 15 – 30 minutes is adequate.
- While cooking – limit the poking, forking and stabbing.
Use a spatula or tongs to flip and turn – try hard not to use a fork. We grow our animals and craft sausage to have the proper balance and marbling of fat in the meat. Much of that will render out during cooking, leaving behind the perfect amount of flavor and moisture. Every little fork hole is like opening a drain and will lead to a more dry meat. And whatever you do… don’t cut your meat to see if it’s done (see tip number one). This will guarantee a dry meat.
- Once you’re done – Take a break and rest that meat!
Take your meat off the heat when it’s about five degrees less done than you want it. It will continue to cook away from the heat source. Plan on getting your meat finished 10 minutes before you’re ready to eat. Resting the meat will allow the internal juices to equalize and remain in the meat when you start cutting. Think of meat as a micro-pressure cooker: the exterior is sealed up by heat, and the internal juices are under pressure inside the meat. They draw to the center during cooking. We’ve all cut into a steak right off the grill and have witnessed the juices being expelled. By resting the meat, you will ensure a juicy product full of flavor. You can use this time to finish the rest of dinner! For chops, steaks, burgers, sausages – five minutes is probably adequate. For larger meats and whole roasts, 10-15 minutes. A whole turkey or chicken should rest for 20-25 minutes before serving.
Specific Tips Depending on Type of Meat
If you follow the tips above, you will have a great dinner. Here are a few more tips in specific regard to certain types of meats.
Sausage Cooking Tips:
- To summarize in one word: GENTLY.
Sausage links are tender. However you choose to cook do it gently and over a low to moderate heat. If sausage links are cooked too quickly with too much heat, the casing will burst and the deliciousness inside will leak out. Lower the heat and take a few extra minutes. Linked sausages should ‘crack’ when you bite and let the juices explode in your mouth. Remember to rest sausages five minutes before eating!
- Grilling sausage to perfection is easy.
Many people struggle to know when sausage is done on the grill – so we keep cooking. Instead, use two-zone and indirect heat to cook sausage. Place sausage directly over the heat source and moderate heat to start – about 4-5 minutes. Then move the sausage to indirect heat for another 15 minutes, or until reaching the desired temperature (155° F degrees for pork and beef sausage,165 °F for poultry).
- Parboiling sausage can be A-OK.
Fill a pot with water – or get creative and try different types of brew, or any liquid – and cook at a slow boil for 10-15 minutes until grey throughout or 155° F degrees for beef and pork sausage, 165°F degrees for poultry sausage. Finish on the grill or in a frying pan to crisp the skin and impart extra flavor. Get creative, or ask us… we have ideas! One great way to prepare Italian sausage is to parboil in marinara!
Tips for GREAT Pork:
- Really, there’s just one: Safe temperature for pork is 145° F.
The USDA has confirmed what many chefs already knew – pork is just fine at 145 degrees F. No matter how you prepare pork, the number one thing is to not overcook it! Use your meat thermometer to check temperature. We recommend that when it reaches 145° F while actively cooking, take your pork off the heat and rest it for 10-15 minutes. When finished, it will be about 155°F degrees internally, and will be succulent.
- Don’t flip out.
We often turn meats too often, especially steak and burgers, which leads to heat loss and longer cooking time. One flip will do. For a one inch thick steak, four minutes per side will deliver a medium rare. Step up 1-2 minutes per side for each level of doneness desired.
- Get it hot… really hot.
Heat the grill or pan hot for steaks. 500+ degrees F is perfect. When you put the meat on, back the heat down. If you’re using wood or charcoal, start the steak over the coals for 2 minutes per side. Then move the meat to an indirect heat area.
Tips for grilling poultry:
- Hot grill and indirect heat.
Get your grill meltdown hot. That’s at least 500 degrees. Then, don’t cook poultry directly over the heat source. Turn down one side of the gas grill, or rearrange the coals. Cook for 20-25 minutes. The outside will be perfectly golden and the inside juicy. If you’re going to brush on BBQ sauce, wait until the very end. Sugars in the sauce will burn very quickly and can impart a burnt flavor in the meat. Remember to rest, and use a meat thermometer! Take off the grill to rest for 5 minutes when the temperature is 175° F.
Tips for great ground burgers:
- Don’t work too hard.
Over working ground meats when making patties will result in a tougher burger than you’d like. No one wants to work too hard, so take it easy on your burger.
- Size matters. So does shape.
Avoid the ‘burger ball’. Naturally patties will draw up when cooked. To make the perfect burger, make a patty bigger around than your bun. Next (and this is the secret), make the center of the burger thinner than the outside. In fact, you can make three spots about the size of a dime right in the center. These spots should be about half the thickness as the rest of the burger. This method will help the center cook evenly with the outside so it’s all done without the edges looking like charcoal; and, when the burger draws during cooking, it won’t ball up in the middle and look like a hockey puck.
Bacon is the pixie dust of the food world, and here’s a tip to make it even better!
- One word: OVEN.
Cook your bacon in the oven. It has many advantages: 1. you can cook more than in a frying pan; 2. NO SPATTER; 3. Truly a set it and forget it method; 4. It won’t curl, and it doesn’t shrink as much; 5. Easy clean up. Convinced to try it? Line a cookie sheet or baking dish with foil (be sure it has a lip!). Use a wire rack to drain while you cook, or place right on foil. Line the pan with bacon. Slide into a COLD oven. Set the oven to 400-425 and the timer for 20 minutes. Walk away. In 20 minutes, it will be perfect. If its thick cut bacon, or you like yours extra crispy, it’ll need a few more minutes.