Fresh beef is perishable and, like all perishable food, must be stored and handled properly to avoid spoilage and foodborne illness. The following guidelines will help you keep the quality of the beef you buy at its best.
Preparing your beef is an important first step to any great meal. Start by familiarizing yourself with basic food safety tips.
Utensils, cutting boards, platters - all are important tools in preparing your favorite beef dishes. Yet how you handle these items can make a difference in your safety. Follow the smart tips below to avoid any mealtime messes.
- As a general rule, keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.
- Thaw meat in the refrigerator or microwave (at reduced power setting). NEVER defrost meat on the kitchen counter.
- Carefully wash cutting boards with hot, soapy water or a solution of bleach and water. Some cutting boards can be cleaned in the dishwasher.
- Wash your hands with hot, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before preparing food.
- Keep raw meat from coming into contact with other raw foods like fresh vegetables and salad ingredients during preparation.
- Use separate platters for raw and cooked foods.
- Wash your hands and all utensils and surfaces with hot, soapy water after contact with raw meat.
- If possible, use a separate cutting board for the preparation of raw meat, poultry and fish.
TRY THESE DO'S AND DON'TS TO PREPARE YOUR BEEF:
- Don’t over mix: Burgers, meatloaf, meatballs and other ground beef recipes will be more tender if you handle the meat as little as possible as you add seasonings and other ingredients. If you over mix it, you’ll end up with a firm, compact texture after cooking.
- Do pat beef dry before cooking: Dry beef by patting with paper towel before cooking. Liquid sizzles in the pan creating steam that can prevent browning.
- Do cut uniform pieces of beef: To evenly cook of kabobs, cut into equal-sized cubes (but don’t worry if they’re not perfectly square) and leave a little space between each piece.
- Do slice beef when slightly frozen: Put beef in the freezer for about 30 minutes, or until just firm, to make the meat firm and easier to cut into strips.
- Don’t salt beef before cooking: Add salt after cooking. Salting before cooking can draw the moisture and juices out of the meat.
- Don’t turn beef with a fork: Use a spatula or tongs instead. If you use a fork, it will pierce the beef and release flavorful juices. When flipping burgers, you can also use a spatula, but don’t use it to press down on the beef, or you’ll lose the juices that make your burger moist.
- Do monitor the heat: If the heat is too high you might overcook your beef on the outside while the inside is still undercooked. For tender beef, cooked to the desired doneness. Use medium heat with most dry-heat cooking methods, such as grilling and sautéing, and medium-high heat for stir-frying. Low heat is ideal for moist-heat cooking methods, like braising.
- Do consider Marinades and Rubs: Marinades and rubs not only add excitement and flavor to many cuts of beef, but with the right ingredients, marinades can also be used to make some cuts more tender.