Cooking Explorations

Cooking Meat Tips: [Bake, Broil, and Grill your way to perfection]

Many of us love meat, after all, it’s hard to resist the juicy, crispy, marinated, cooked to perfection melt in your mouth flavors that remind us why we are carnivores.

Personally, my weaknesses include a perfectly rare filet steak where the outside is seared, slow roasted chicken with gentle seasoning that has been basted consistently, grilled pork chops with the smokey flavor but still moist and not overcooked, baked lamb with Meditterian sea salt and spices slowly roasted with a juicy pink center, or mouth-watering baked or grilled fish that falls apart on your fork. OHHHH, now I am hungry!

We know what we love to eat and where to get it but being able to create it at home is a totally different story. There are many tricks of the trade with cooking as to which meats to cook at what temperatures, best pans to use, and even which ones work best via baking, broiling, grilling, etc. Sometimes it’s nice to have the cheat sheet right in front of you!

cooking meat tips

Meat Manifesto 101

With any style or range of cooking, there are always a few things that remain constant and the same is true when handling meat. First and foremost you never want to cook meat that you just got out of the refrigerator or freezer. It will not cook properly as some will turn out more well done than others and truthfully it sucks the flavor out of the meat itself. The meat should be close to room temperature when you begin to cook it for the best results.

Secondly, preparation is key. Despite what you may believe the excess water, blood, or fluids in a packaged meat product does not mean throw it in the pan because that is where the flavor is. The flavor is in the meat. So its always a good idea to rinse off the meat and pat dry with a paper towel. This becomes a more prominent issue for frozen meats as any excess water in the meat gets released as it thaws which should be cleaned off prior to cooking.

Meat loves high-temperature cooking. Think of it as searing in the flavors with the meat. Even when slow roasting a chicken or turkey we still typically have the oven on 400 F to start for a while to get it cooking and then turn the heat down to let it finish cooking more slowly which gives the skin that wonderful taste we love. Make sure when keeping this in mind that you don’t have the temperature so high that you burn the meat and be mindful not to burn yourself.

The low heat I mentioned with the chicken above helps to preserve moisture. It also allows the internal temperature of the meat to rise to the desired doneness level. Thus why utilizing both high at the beginning and low heat for overall cooking combined is the best matchup for meat. Likewise, it is always wise to remember that the internal temperature of meat continues to rise up to 10 degrees even when you remove it from a heat source. This is why recipes typically tell you to remove meat and let it rest prior to cutting into it and why I will tell you to take it off a heat source about slightly prior to the level of where you want it to be for serving.

Various parts of meat are also best for certain types of cooking techniques. Matching up tougher meats like shoulder cuts with slow cooking methods such as braising or stews help to make them more tender. Tender cuts like pork loin do great in dryer fast cooking options such as grilling. Too much moisture in a tender piece of meat can actually make it turn tough.

FILET MIgnON

Beef it Up

Temp Range: (always before resting)

Rare: 115-120 F

Med Rare: 120-125F

Medium: 130-135F

Med Well:140-145F

Well Done: 150-155F

America’s number 1 choice for meat. Mmmmmm a prime choice steak, beef tips, roasts, ground beef, brisket, just so many tasty options. Whenever cooking beef it’s imperative that the beef not be frozen to ensure the meat is cooked evenly. Marinades are great for flavor, just remember have it totally cover the meat, marinate in the refrigerator, and let sit for at least several hours up to overnight.

When handling raw beef its important that the juices from the meat don’t come in contact with other food products as it can contaminate them. Beef does not need to be at room temperature to be cooked but still cool from the fridge as fully thawed room temp can also lead to bacteria growth. Leftovers also need to go straight back into the fridge. Never refreeze beef or freeze after cooking due to when you go back to eating it there is a high chance of food poising.

Cooking beef is a fun and exciting meat with a lot of cooking options including grilling, stewing, roasting, broiling, pan frying, and even baking. Always try to be mindful of the cooking temperatures of beef versus cutting into the meat throughout cooking. It will help get the desired doneness you want while keeping the juicy flavors inside. A great method for tender beef is to sear in a cast iron skillet and then raise the internal temp in the oven.

When grilling beef you can use a variety range of cooking temperatures and make anything from a steak to a roast or even a good ole hamburger pattie. Braising works best with short ribs, chuck roasts, briskets, and rump roasts. Stewing allots for mostly chuck and round roasts. Beef sirloin is most appropriate for stir-frying. Barbecuing beef tastes delicious with brisket, ribs, chuck, and roasts. Then, of course, you have a skillet and/or pan frying which includes most often ground beef.

cooking meat tips

Poultry Perfection

Temp Range:

White Meat: 150F

Dark Meat: 175F

The middle ground for a whole chicken: 165F

Chicken has the potential to be moist and delicious or dry and dull. We all know that I am speaking the truth. It comes in all shapes, sizes, white, dark, oily, seasoned, crispy, with or without the skin, etc. So what makes good chicken?

Of course, knowing when the meat is actually done cooking is a great place to start with the temp range of the specific meat but that is just using the handy dandy meat thermometer. Marinates for chicken are best if they sit for a minimum of 30 min to help soak into the chicken but best for periods of 6 to 8 hours. The longer time allows the marinate not to just get the top layer of the chicken but to soak all through the chicken. Another helpful tip is to utilize carbonation with marinates such as a can of sprite or a favorite beer which provides oxygen into the meat and promotes the marinade.

I believe we can all agree that dry chicken is horrible. Even when I have been to pot lucks or a friends house and I think, “Well if nothing else, there should at least be chicken to eat.” Then you arrive and see all these crockpots and slow cookers, peek inside, and you can just tell that it’s dry and gross. How does someone mess up chicken in a crockpot? It can be done! The rule of thumb is simple, for every pound of chicken you need a quart of space in a crockpot. And of course, some fluid based composition for it to cook with.

When it comes to rinsing chicken prior to cooking its best not to use tap water due to the potential for bacteria to spread. I always recommend using bottled water and pouring it over the chicken while you hold the chicken with the other hand.

Additionally, avoid freezing chicken or loose storage refrigeration. Both cause the moisture to be sucked out of the chicken leaving it dry and tough.

Chicken does great at roasting, sauteing, broiling, grilling, frying, and poaching techniques. Try to use a healthy nonstick cooking pan or skillet whenever frying or browning the chicken. The uncovered chicken will always cook quicker than a covered chicken. A dry outer layer of chicken typically equals a crispy layer of chicken. Utilizing the inner cavity when cooking a whole chicken and basting are 2 ways to also include moisture and flavor into the meat.

cooking meat tips

Pork Precision

Temp Range:

Medium: 140-145F

Med Well: 145-150F

Well Done: 150-155F

There are many options for some delicious pork! Bacon, pork chops, steaks, ham, tenderloins, ribs, ground pork patties, sausages, and kabobs. Are you now hungry too?

When marinating pork you treat it like beef and have the pork completely covered with the marinade while soaking for up to 12 hours or more for best results. The temp range will help you know when the pork is done but it should also help to know that when you cut into a piece of pork the juices that run should either be clear or a faint pink. Try to avoid freezing as it will quickly dry out pork; however, if you must do so in a moisture protected method which does not include a Ziploc bag or parchment paper.

Some of the best cuts of pork are the loin or leg because they contain less fat. If you desire to cut off the excess fat from the meat, it is best to do so prior to cooking it.

Like all meat, if you overcook pork it will also become dry and tough to the point no one will want to eat it unless they smother it in a sauce. Some popular methods of cooking include: pan-frying, sauteing, grilling, broiling, baking, roasting, braising, stewing, and poaching. A good tip for helping keep moisture in pork is to coat it with vegetable oil prior to cooking it which also helps seasonings and herbs stick to it.

Love being on the grill? Try to cook the next round of pork out on a Himalayan salt block! Something tells me that you will love it, I know I do.

cooking meat tips

Fish for Everyone

First and foremost, never thaw your fish in the sink or with hot water! It will grow bacteria quickly and no one wants to eat that. Allow the fish to thaw in the fridge over a longer period of time prior to cooking.

A major benefit in cooking fish is the pure vast of cooking options including baking, steaming, frying, grilling, broiling, or slow cooking. However, fish can be easily overcooked resulting in dry tasteless fish. This is why cooking fish is not based on the internal temperature of the fish but on the cooking temp, weight or thickness of the fish, and correlated to the appropriate amount of cooking time.

Cooking fish selections are typically referring to whole fish, fillets, or fish steaks. When baking these fish they range between 3-5 pounds. Keep the oven at 350F and cook between 25-30 min for the best results. Pan-frying involves the same fish selections but you will want to do this over med heat. A whole fish will take up to 15min while a fillet and fish steak only up to 10 min. Upon grilling a fish you want it at a medium heat level for about 8-10 min for fillets and steaks while a whole fist can take up to 15-20 min. Deep frying fish is a quick process that only takes 4-6 min on average for all three selections and the temp should be about 350-375F for the oil. Steaming works the same way taking about 10-15 min for all selections on a med level.

It is important to always keep fish refrigerated. Rinse it inside and out and then dry it well. Never just cook a fish outright that you get from a meat market or grocery store. A good way to check if a fish is done cooking is to stick a fork into the thicker part of the fish where it should start to flake off. Always remember to try and flip the fish one time during the cooking cycle so both sides are cooked evenly but don’t keep flipping it constantly.

I personally love to cook fish on the grill with a wood plank. Until last summer I had never actually put the fish directly on the grate before due to not wanting the fish to stick and also not being very sure how that would work. I knew they did it in restaurants but clearly no clue how to replicate the process. Then I learned a neat trick. To grill a fish, one of the best tricks is to place it on the grill skin side up for about 10 min for every inch it is thick.

Just like the other meat selections you want the fish to rest a few mins before diving in allowing the juice to settle and finish cooking. The best tool on the market for dealing with fish is actually a fish spatula and I highly recommend investing in one if you don’t have one.

cooking meat tips

Lamb Chops Tonight

Temp Range:

Rare: 115 – 120F

Med Rare: 120 – 125F

Medium: 130 – 135F

Med Well: 140 – 145F

Well Done: 150-155F

You have officially made it to my favorite meat of all time! I could spend a week talking your ear off about everything lamb and probably still not run out of things to talk about. However, I will try to only hit the basics for today. Like many of our other options you can grill, roast, rotisserie, broil, saute, pan-fry, bake, and grill lamb to absolute mouth-watering perfection.

Lamb cooks a lot like steak benefiting from high temps to start followed by lower temps to get the internal temp up. It also follows the same thermometer rating for doneness. For cooking choices, you have lamb chops, boneless or bone-in leg roasts, rib roasts or rack of lamb, leg and shoulder shanks, and tenderloins as being the most popular overall. Depending on the cut you can use dry or moist heat to cook lamb.

With lamb, you want to give it 5-10 min of rest prior to cutting into it and serving it with a meal. Part of what I love the most about lamb is that it is naturally tender. Soon I will share my lamb crown recipe with you.

Lamb is easy to prepare and season. Have some fun with it.

cooking meat tips

The Meat You Can’t Live Without

Meat is a sustainable source of protein for many Americans and a tasty one at that. However, it is in our best interests as home chef’s to prepare our meats in such a way to allow them to be both healthy and delicious. I am not thrilled to tell you that I have had food poising twice at restaurants who did not properly prepare their meats.

With so many cooking options, meat cuts, a variety of seasonings and herbs, marinades and styles available there is much we can do to accomplish juicy moist meats that we can’t live without. Or at least I cannot.

What is your favorite meat and way to cook it?

I hope you enjoyed this review and if you have any questions about your favorite meats or want to leave your own personal review or technique please leave a comment below.

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10 Comments

  1. I was never a very experienced cook, but since my new roommate moved in with me, he has taught me a lot about cooking meat, much of which you touched on here. He is a red-seal chef with many years of cooking and kitchen management experience in different venues. Now I love to pan fry steaks to medium-rare perfection, and we bake most of our pork chops sometimes covered in barbeque sauce then finished by broiling to really cook and caramelize the sauce. I will share your article with him as he had mentioned not knowing what the ideal internal temperatures, he might learn something new. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  2. Thanks for these tips. Truly, frozen fish should be removed from the fridge some hour prior to the cooking. Doing that we give a chance for thorough washing to get rid of possible parasites and dirt that comes with it. I like getting the meat I will cook for my family on Friday. On Saturday night, I usually remove it from the refrigerator for it to melt before early Sunday morning. I can use it to prepare meat in batter or use it to prepare what my family wants at that moment. It is their choice. This review is interesting and informative. All my believes was that meat should be thoroughly washed to get rid of parasites and bacteria before cook, frying or roasting. I will have to take note of all your great ideas.

  3. So, all you have done right now is make me hungry and it is now only breakfast time. How am I going to get through the rest of the day? You have made my planned day sound very bland.

    Living in South Africa, We are great meat lovers, especially of venison. There are some really great venison recipes and one of the neat tricks that I have learned over the years while hunting, especially if you want to eat some of the fresh venison is how to get rid of the tough, very wild taste.

    We always have coke at hand and if you need to cook some freshly killed venison, you simply lay your slices of venison in a dish and pour coke over it and leave it for 2 to 3 hours before cooking it. It is a sure way to have a nice soft piece of meat.

    Another winner is to have a whole bushpig, suitably stuffed with garlic and basted while being cooked on a spit. I know this is not baked broiled or grilled, but it is close enough to be delicious. Another wonderful venison meal is baked porcupine. This is a story for another time.

    Thanks for your useful tips on preparing the different types of meat. As I have learned over the years, there are as many ways of cooking meat as there are cooks but meat is still the main course favourite. 

    1. I love venison as well! My brother taught me to do soak the meat as well after he went hunting but he always did it with a Vanilla Porter Beer. OMG to die for delicious. I have had lamb roasted on a spit but never a bushpig. You certainly have my appetite and curiosity up on that one. I look forward to the extra recipe! Come back and share anytime friend 🙂 Happy cooking!

  4. Hello there!!
    This is amazing.. Looking delicious and yummyyy.. Happy to see all these😍. Meat is the most preferable food for me. Love to eat meat. And the types of cooking you have shown, it has just blown my mind. I liked the Lamb Chops most. Poultry and beef manifesto are looking also very yummy.. Thanks for the recipees.. It will be started from today immediately to cook to satisfy my temptation☺. Hope you to share more of these. Make some other delicious items of mutton and fish to blow my heart soon!!!

    1. Happy to get your appetite up! I will have a few of the recipes up very soon and I will link them within the article or you can find them from the top menu as well. Happy cooking!

  5. Hello,

    What an article! I  love this article. I am also a meat lover. It is one of the essential food items for my dinner. I personally love juicy meat. I do not prefer the refrigerator cold meat. I love fresh meat from the butcher. High temperature is really essential for tender meat. I am in love with beef steak. I love this article because here you describe every type of meat and the best way to prepare it. I think everyone should have meat in their meal. It is a good source of iron, protein, and magnesium. 

  6. Hello

    Almost everyone like to eat meat. Many of us can cook. But it is important to be aware of our cooking. Your article will be helpful in cooking for me. Because it is important to have an idea about the temperature in meat cooking. Afterward, I will take care of the temperature when I cook meat. 

    Thanks a lot for the informative and helpful article. 🙂 

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