Because meat is often the main course of a meal, knowing how to prepare and cook different types of meats is an important skill for the everyday cook, as well as the seasoned chef. In fact, if you don”t cook meat properly, the taste isn”t the only thing that suffers: Undercooked meat contains harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella and E. coli, that can make someone serious ill. This article explains how to cook various types of meat properly so that you can enjoy them worry-free!
Nutritional Value of Meat
Meat, an important part of a balanced diet, is one of the basic four food groups that provide iron and essential proteins. Meat generally contains high levels of B vitamins, including B12, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. These vitamins help us grow, boost our immune systems and help us digest the foods we eat more efficiently.
Three aspects affect the nutritional value of the meat you eat:
- the type of meat
- the cut of meat
- the way the meat is prepared.
Types of Meat versus Nutritional Value
Because some types of meat can be high in fat and cholesterol, choose lean cuts of meats to achieve the highest nutritional value.
For example, a serving of ground beef has 233 calories, 16 grams of fat and 75 milligrams of cholesterol. However, by opting for a leaner cut, such as beef sirloin, you”ll only eat 171 calories and 7 grams of fat. With the leaner cut of meat, you save on calories and fat grams with about the same amount of cholesterol (about 76 milligrams).
Of the various types of meats, fish, poultry and pork tend to be the leanest, providing optimum nutritional value with far fewer calories and fat grams. For example, look at our chart below:
|Type of Meat (Serving size 4 oz.)||Calories||Fat (Grams)||Cholesterol (mGrams)|
|NY Strip Steak||259||13||71|
While the cholesterol levels for the meats are relatively the same (aside from the salmon), the salmon, chicken and fish are significantly lower in calories and fat.
Cuts of Meat
The cuts of meat you choose, as well as the type, also affect the nutritional value. For instance, a chicken breast will feature fewer fat grams and more minerals than a thigh or leg. Pork tenderloin is leaner than bacon or pork chops. If you choose liver or kidneys, you”ll gain more A, B12 and D vitamins.
In general, “white” meats, lighter-colored meats, tend to be healthier than “darker” meats. While dark meats (such as duck or rabbit) are more flavorful, they are also higher in calories and fat.
Along with choosing lighter-colored meats, skinless meat is also a healthier option, as the skin is another part that holds excess Calories and fat.
Healthy Ways to Prepare Meat
Once you have selected a lean cut of healthy meat, the final step is to prepare it. In general, grilling, baking and broiling are the healthiest ways to cook meat without adding extra, unnecessary calories and fat. Similarly, avoid basting or glazing with fatty sauces, as this will negate all of your effort to eat a healthy cut of meat.
Frying meat, especially deep frying it, is one of the unhealthiest ways to prepare it. While fried chicken is a nice treat every once in a while, avoid eating fried food every night, as that is a sure way to pack on the pounds.
Also, before cooking, trim any excess fat or skin. If your local grocer has an in-house butcher, he”ll usually be happy to do this for you.
Grilling/Frying Cuts and Cooking Times Charts
When you are ready to start cooking, preheat your grill to 325 to 375?. Make sure your meat is clean. Meat cooking times depend on the thickness of the cut of meat, as well as how well done you like your meat to be. Consider the following tables:
Beef Cooking Times
|Method of Cooking||Cut of Meat||Rare to Medium (140-145?F)||Medium (160?F)||Well Done (170?F)|
|Oven Cooked||Rib Roast (350?F, 4-6 lbs.)||18-26 min.||28-34 min.||36-28 min.|
|Rib Eye Roast (350?F, 4-6 lbs.)||18-20 min.||20-24 min.||24-26 min.|
|Sirloin Tip (300?F, 3.5 lbs.)||35 min.||36-39 min.||40 min .|
|Half Tenderloin (425?F, 2-3 lbs.)||35-40 min.||40-45 min.||45-50 min.|
|Grilled (times per side)||Rib Eye (.75 in.)||5-7 min.||7-9 min.||8-11 min.|
|NY Strip (1 in.)||8-10 min.||10-12 min.||12-14 min.|
|Steak (1 in., Sirloin, Rib, Tenderloin)||6-7 min.||8-9 min.||9-11 min.|
|Hamburger Patties (1 in. or 6 oz.) NOTE: final internal temp should be 160?F||4-5 min.||5-7 min.||8-9 min.|
|Pan Fried||Steak (1 in.)||8-12 min.||12-14 min.||14-17 min.|
|Hamburger Patties(1 in. or 6 oz.) NOTE: final internal temp should be 160?F||5-7 min.||7-10 min.||10-12 min.|
Pork Cooking Times
|Method of Cooking||Cut of Meat||Final Internal Temp.||Cooking Time|
|Oven Cooked (350?F)||Crown Roast (6-10 lbs.)||160?F||20 min.|
|Rolled Loin (3-5 lbs.)||170?F||35-40 min.|
|Boston Shoulder (4-6 lbs.)||170?F||40-45 min.|
|Tenderloin (425? F, .5-2 lbs.)||160?F||25-35 min.|
|Spare Ribs (3 lbs.)||170?F||1-2 hours|
|Grilled (for Medium doneness)||Pork Chops (.75 in.)||145?F||12-14 min.|
|Blade Steak (.5 in)||145?F||10-12 min.|
|Loin or Rib (1-1.5 in.)||145?F||35-40 min.|
Lamb Cooking Times
|Method of Cooking||Cut of Meat||Rare to Medium (internal temp 145? F)||Medium (160? F)||Well Done (170? F)|
|Oven Cooked (325? F)||Whole Leg (5-7 lbs.)||15-20 min.||20-25 min.||25-30 min.|
|Boneless Leg Roast (4-7 lbs.)||20 min.||25 min.||30 min.|
|Rib Roast or Rack (375?F, 1-3 lbs.)||30 min.||35 min.||40 min.|
|Grilling (time is minutes per side)||Steaks (1 in.)||5 min.||8 min.||10 min.|
|Chops (Shoulder or Loin, 1 in.)||5 min.||8 min.||10 min.|
|Kabobs (1 in. cubes)||4 min.||5-6 min.||7 min.|
Fish Cooking Times (General for most types of fish, all Temperatures at 350?)
|Cut of Fish||Cooking Method||Total Time (in mins.)|
|Fillets (3-5 lbs. or .75 in.)||Baking||35-40 min.|
|Grilling||10-20 min. (5-10 per side)|
|Deep Frying||3-5 min.|
|Steaks (.75-1 in.)||Baking||25-30 min.|
|Grilling||10-20 min. (5-10 per side)|
|Deep Frying||4-6 min.|
Meat and Wine
A good rule of thumb is that red wines go with red meats and white wines go with white meats. For example, Pinot Grigios and Chardonnays complement fish and pork while merlots and cabernets are best suited to beef dishes.
Although most experts will tell you to choose a wine that you like (good advice, indeed!), stay away from heavy reds if your dish has light flavors, as the wine will overpower the subtleties of the meat. Similarly, lighter wines may not be able to stand up to dishes with heavy, robust flavors.