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Cooking with Bwog: Back to Basics—Meat

Vegans and Vegetarians, avert your eyes! But carnivores, it’s time for us to use our gratuitous “meat and greet” tag, and you should start salivating. This week Matt Powell covers the basics of beef, pork, burgers, and chicken.

And bacon strips and bacon strips and bacon strips...

Beef

Know where your meat comes from! The Culinary Society has a handy guide to choosing cuts and such. Like wine, flavors of meat vary widely.

I usually stick with four different cuts when making steak: hanger, rib eye, sirloin, or filet mignon. Hanger steak is a very sinewy cut that should ideally be marinated, ideally overnight, before cooking. (A simple marinade can include ingredients such as lemon juice, garlic cloves, salt, pepper, herbs, wine, onion, oil). Rib eye and sirloin are my go-to cuts for a quick meal. They only need a sprinkling of salt and pepper and it’s on to the skillet. As for filet mignon, I reserve this cut for special occasions—it’s not exactly in everyone’s price range.

Basic Recipe for Steak

Ingredients:

  • 1-4 oz. steak, preferably rib eye or sirloin
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp. butter/olive oil/animal fat


Directions:

Bring the steak to room temperature, and pat with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. Rub the steak down with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Warm an oven-proof skillet or pan in the oven at 450 degrees for about 5 minutes. Once the pan is hot, remove from the oven and place on the stove over high heat. Melt 1 tbsp. of fat in the skillet. Once the fat is melted, place the steak in the pan. Sear on one side, without moving the steak, for 30 seconds. Once time is up, flip your meat and sear the other side for an additional 30 seconds. Transfer the skillet/pan to the oven and roast the steak at 450 degrees for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, flip the steak and roast for an additional 2 minutes. After time is up, remove the steak from the oven and place on a plate. Cover with foil and allow to rest for 2 minutes. Beef is finished when at an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Serve as is or with your favorite sauce.

Pork

Bacon

Directions:

Bring 4 slices of bacon to room temperature. Heat a skillet over high heat. Once the pan is hot, place the bacon onto the pan. Watch the bacon, turning as needed so as not to burn on one side. Bacon usually takes about 3 minutes per side, but it will depend on your preferences and the thickness of the bacon. Once the bacon looks golden (or burnt, or whatever), remove it to a plate that has been covered with a paper towel. Allow the bacon to drain on the plate and serve.

Save the grease! It will be delicious for later cooking endeavors! Simply allow it to cool to room temperature and pour into a jar or container. Save in the fridge until later use.

Pork chop

Ingredients:

  • 1—3 oz. pork chop
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

The pork chop is similar to steak in preparation with some variations. Allow the pork to come to room temperature and pat the pork dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle the pork with salt and pepper. Warm a skillet over high heat and add oil. Once the oil is hot, sear the pork chop for 4 minutes on one side, 3 minutes on the other. Transfer to a platter and allow to rest 2 minutes.

Burgers

Although most Americans associate burgers with ground beef, we need to expand our horizons. Ground lamb, ground pork, ground veal, hot sausages, ground turkey, ground chicken, even salmon. All of these meats make fantastic additions to the common burger.

The basic burger

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. of ground beef (I usually go with an 80/20 ground chuck or sirloin)
  • 1 lb. of ground pork
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 C bread crumbs

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix with your hands to evenly distribute ingredients. Be careful not to compact the meat too much. Portion the meat into 4 patties—these can be formed by hand or in a patty press if you have one. Lightly oil the burger patties with olive oil. Heat a skillet over high heat. Add 1 tbsp. oil and heat until shimmering. Cook the burgers, 3 minutes on the first side and 4 minutes on the second side. (This will yield medium rare burgers.) Top with seasonings, vegetables, sauces; and whatever you do, toast your buns!

Chicken

Our beloved chicken, the college student’s cheapest option. At Westside, the prices are actually bearable, but beware! Westside chicken usually goes bad in 2 days if left raw.

For a simple chicken breast, follow the following steps:

  • Tenderize your chicken breast. In other words, cover your chicken breast with plastic and hit with the flat end of a meat tenderizer/mallet. (You can also use a rolling pin.) You don’t want to smash the heck out of the thing; you’re just trying to make the chicken breast an even thickness.
  • Once the breast is tenderized, season with an ample amount of salt and pepper.
  • Heat 2 tbsp. of oil in a skillet. Add the chicken breast and cook the first side for 5 minutes. Flip the chicken breast and cook an additional 8-10 minutes, until chicken breast is no longer pink and its juices run clear.

Meat rack via Wikimedia

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9 Comments

  • Sigh says:

    @Sigh Whenever I pan fry a steak instead of grill it, I fee like I’m ripping out it’s soul.

    Also: my captcha include the symbol for pi????

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Cast-iron grill pants are best for searing meat. They get to the very high temperatures you need without the damage risk one would have with a nonstick aluminum skillet, and they give those grill lines without having to set up a grill.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous just went to trader joes and splurged on meat…this is perfect

  • burger or mini-meatloaf? says:

    @burger or mini-meatloaf? 4 burgers made with two pounds meat plus eggs and breadcrumbs will yield four half-pound patties that taste and look a lot more like meatloaf than a burger. Trust me.

  • whoops says:

    @whoops Ripping off Ina…

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Ina Garten’s show and cookbook– ‘Back to Basics’– is seriously not cool.

    Also, a burger should be meat and salt. Nothing else. Let good meat speak for itself.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Did you buy your meat and salt at Food and Stuff?

  • concerned chef says:

    @concerned chef A much-needed post. It seems like everyday I overhear “This is my first time making (insert potential for food poisoning here)!” when I am in my floor kitchen. I’m always so worried these kids don’t know how to properly cook/handle meat. This post gives me hope.

  • Cooking Tip says:

    @Cooking Tip After you remove the steak from the pan, drop a 1/4 stick of butter and some mushrooms and onions in there to pour on top of your steak.

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