Cooking shouldn’t be boring — there are too many ways to change things up for that to happen! If you start to feel a sense of dread when you think, “What’s for dinner?” maybe it’s time to shake up your approach.
Generally, meat-cooking methods fall into one of two categories: dry heat (think roasting, broiling, pan-frying, stir-frying and grilling) or moist heat (braising, stewing, simmering). Typically, less tender cuts of meat work better with moist heat cooking methods because this adds moisture and helps to break down any tough connective tissues. On the other hand, more tender cuts of meat don’t need that extra help and are usually better when cooked with a dry heat method.
There are nearly endless options when it comes to preparing meat, and we’re diving into a few of the best methods — read on!
Searing is when you cook the surface of the meat at a high temperature until the outside is browned. It’s easy, straightforward, and it results in a visually appealing final product. Plus, this approach often leaves a flavorful sediment in the pan — perfect for deglazing to use in gravy.
This term literally translates to “under vacuum” in French, and essentially means to cook meat in a vacuum-sealed bag in a temperature-controlled water bath. The end result is completely unique, and because the meat cooks in its juices, making the meat juicy and tender.
Stewing is a smart choice for less tender cuts of meat, like brisket or short rib. This is accomplished by covering the meat with a liquid and simmering in a covered pot until tender and well-done — usually a “low and slow” process. It’s a good way to add moisture and break down the tough proteins.
You’ve likely roasted a piece of meat at least once! Thanks to the ease of this preparation, it’s one of the more common choices for cooking meat. Roasting uses dry heat — hot air (like from an oven) covers the food, cooking it evenly on all sides simultaneously.
Broiling is cooking by direct heat — usually in an oven, although cooking over a flame technically counts, too — one side at a time. This method is tasty, but it can be easy to overcook when you broil since appliances vary so greatly. It’s important to pay attention to your specific cut of meat, know your manufacturer’s recommendations, and leave the oven door cracked if needed.
Note that cooking meat in an uncovered pan over direct heat and draining off fat that cooks out is called pan-broiling.
Although backyard BBQs may spring to mind, meat can be grilled on a grid or rack over coals, heated ceramic briquettes, or an open ﬁre; or, it can be grilled in the kitchen on specific types of ranges.
When braising meat, you’re trapping in steam (and flavor!) with a covered container or foil wrap. The steam may stem from water, or the meat’s own juices. This is a popular choice for large, bulky cuts of meat like rump and chuck.
Basically, frying meat refers to cooking it in a designated amount of fat (pan-frying may only use a splash of olive oil, while deep frying may mean the meat is submerged in a fat altogether). Although this approach definitely adds to the calorie count, sometimes it’s worth it!
Ready to change up your meat-cooking method?