How to select meat
As a cooking newbie, I do know that the quality of meat makes a big difference. However, how do you determine the quality? What criteria do you use? How do you make your meat and fish selections in a general grocery store?
Check the thread on meat and fish in general topics.
My selections are based upon what dish I am making....Specific reciepes have evolved on the past several thousand years given the avalaibility of the ingredients.
I don't have any good way to do it but to try each source and prepare the meat. For example, I can get chuck eye steak from three stores within a reasonable distance, all three are supposedly choice grade. Only two are acceptable. I figured that out by trial and error, although in one place the cuts do look more even, which is why that place is better. The steaks cook evenly and brown well because they are the right thickness. In the unacceptable store, the meat is absurdly chewy.
I get choice grade. I haven't noticed any benefit to beef with some special name, like Angus. I have noticed that lower grades are less tasty.
With due respect to all....advice on cuts of meat are meaningless if you don't actually know what you are purchasing... by that I mean, we can all recommend a cut of meat to you....but the butcher may not know it by that name or the package could be mis-marked.
You need o acquaint yourself with terms and pictures of specific cuts of meat to make it easier to order, or select from the meat case.
having a direct conversation with the meat manager when he's not busy would also prove fruitful.
Until then, go to YouTube and look at some videos similar to the one produced for Gourmet magazine on pork. The butcher *Jeffrey* takes the time to show you the specific cuts of pork, what they are like and where they come from. It should be required viewing for all home cooks
Supermarket staff may be meatcutters rather than more trained butchers. When you're learning, it's worth it to buy some of your meat from an independent butcher shop, where you can ask for advice from an expert who really wants to sell you the right cut for the dish you want to make.
Once you learn more, you can choose more wisely at a supermarket.
America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country often have detailed segments about the right cuts for the meats they are preparing. Watch and take notes.
... it's worth it to buy some of your meat from an independent butcher shop, where you can ask for advice from an expert who really wants to sell you the right cut for the dish you want to make...
With due respect to knowledgeable butchers...Brandon Nelson comes to mind.....if the advice given by butchers here on chowhound, directly or indirectly from members on recipes and cooking meat in general are any indication, there are many butcher's out there stuck in prehistoric times and notions on cooking meat. Just like in all facets of life, there are exceptions to the rule. I'm not a butcher, but inexpensive cuts are of a particular interest to me for the home cook or commercial kitchen.....known as Beef Value Cuts. Most butchers have no idea what they are....even on a more well known cut like the Cross Rib Roast, I have seen and read the advice here on Chowhound as it is only a cut meant for Braising, which is definitely not true.....and they recommend Eye Round as well for Braising....again not the best choice or application for the cut of beef.
I do with agree advice from a true expert is beneficial. There are quality butchers out there, just not all of them can attain that status. While I will shop at an ethnic market for meat on occasion...they are no where near the level of quality to say a German or Polish Butcher.... or the Italian Pork Store operator.....who smoke or make their own sausages.
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