Meat is cooked to soften connective tissue, to develop flavor, to improve appearance, and to destroy bacteria or other organisms.

The cuts of meat may be divided into two classes, the tough and the tender. Although the tough cuts are as nutritious as the tender and are cheaper, more skill and ingenuity are required to make them palatable.

Both nutritive material and flavor are retained in meat by searing over the surface at the beginning of the cooking period. This may be done by plunging it into boiling water or hot fat, or by placing it in a hot oven or over an open fire as in broiling, thus using direct heat.

Tender Cuts

Only the tender cuts should be cooked with dry heat. After the meat has been quickly seared with intense heat to retain the juices, the temperature should be lowered during the remainder of the cooking.

Fig. 120

Fig. 120. - Cuts of pork.

Even the tenderest cuts of meat may be toughened by cooking at too high a temperature. The tender cuts are fine grained and require less time for cooking than do the tough cuts.

Broiling and roasting, which develop a fine flavor, can be used only for tender cuts. The best cuts for broiling are porterhouse, sirloin, cross cut of rump steak, and the second and third cuts from the top of the round. Porterhouse and sirloin steaks are the most expensive because of the loss of bone and fat. Round steaks are juicy, but they have a coarser fiber and are not so tender as porterhouse and sirloin.

Steaks should be cut at least one inch thick; they may be as thick as two or three inches.

Most of the fat on steaks should be tried out, clarified, and used for shortening.

The best cuts for roasting are the middle of the sirloin, the back of the rump, and the first three ribs. The tip of the sirloin and the back of the rump make large roasts that are more economical than the sirloin. Rib roasts contain more fat and are somewhat cheaper than other roasts.

Tough Cuts

The tough cuts are the ones containing muscles which the animal has used most actively and include the shin, knuckle, and round of the leg, the neck, and the shoulder.

Methods of making tough meats tender are chopping, adding fat, marinating with oil and vinegar, long slow cooking in moist heat at a low temperature, and breaking the fibers by pounding them with a sharp instrument. Tough cuts of meat require long, slow cooking to be made tender and palatable. Tough ends of the tender cuts, such as porterhouse steak, should be cut off and specially cooked in such a way that they can be utilized, instead of being cooked in the same way as the tender part and then discarded because of their toughness. If it is desired to extract some of the nutritive material and flavor for soup, sauce, or gravy, the meat should be put into cold water and heated slowly. Tough cuts that are to be used for stew may be cut in small pieces and browned before the long, slow cooking, if this browned flavor is liked. Meat cooked for a stew may be drained, rolled in egg and buttered crumbs, and browned for variety. The broth may be thickened and served as gravy.

Swiss Steak

1 1/2 pounds round steak,

1 1/2 to 2 inches thick 1 small onion

1/2-l cup flour 3 slices bacon Salt and pepper

Pound the flour into both sides of the piece of steak. Cook the bacon and sliced onion until brown. Add the meat, brown each side, and add water or tomato juice barely to cover the steak. Cover and simmer it on the stove or place it in the oven. When it is half done, season with salt and pepper.