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Taste readers' tips for cooking meat
Taste readers' tips for cooking meat

The cooking with meat tip hunt is over, and we received hundreds of really useful tips. Here's the winning tip, and some other ones we really liked.

One that brought a smile to our faces is from Elisma Marais: "When cooking meat remember the following when choosing the cooking temperature: slower and lower for tender and tasty. Fast and high for tasteless and taai!'

Nice one Elisma! But our winning tip came from Linda Smithson of Northcliff who is a Woolies free-range beef aficionado. With free-range beef now freely available from Woolworths stores (imported exclusively from Namibia), we felt it was high time someone let us in on the finer details of cooking it for optimum flavour and tenderness. 

Note: We cannot vouch for these tips, but they do make sense and are certainly worth a try!

WINING TIP - HOW TO COOK FREE-RANGE STEAK

Free-range beef has less fat marbling and more protein than feedlot beef so it cooks more quickly. If you cook it as you would regular beef (fast over a high heat), it will most likely be dry and tough. Here's how to ensure it's tender and succulent:
 
Let the meat come to room temperature (don't defrost in the microwave!). Then place the steak in a plastic bag with a mixture of ground coriander and pepper and roll over it with a rolling pin to slightly break the connective tissue and to force the rub mixture into the meat.
 
Pan-fry the steak in a medium-hot pan (or grill over slightly cooler-than-usual coals on the braai) for about 4 minutes a side, until starting to crisp on the outside but still juicy and pink on the inside. Baste it with a little garlic butter towards the end if you like. Rest the meat for a good 8 minutes or more before serving.  - Linda Smithson
 
MARINATING AND TENDERISING TIPS
 
• Before a braai, sprinkle your meat lightly with bicarbonate of soda then prick with a fork and squeeze lemon juice over. Succulent and juicy. - Zelda Boesman
 
• Add yoghurt to the marinade and marinate overnight. - Farzanah Dawood
 
• For tough cuts of lamb, mutton or beef rub the meat with the skin of a pawpaw then place the skins on the meat and refrigerate for 2hrs. The enzyme in the pawpaw acts as a wonderful tenderiser! - Alison Sutcliffe
 
• To prevent chicken breasts from drying out I put them in a brine solution of 1T salt plus 1T sugar for a few hours and then pan-fry them until just done. - Liz Thompson
 
• Marinate lamb in buttermilk overnight. The meat must be at room temperature prior to cooking. Rub with mixture of garlic, lemon juice and butter. - Leigh Cowens
 
• If you want to tenderise large cuts of red meat without imparting any flavour to the meat, use buttermilk. Soak the meat in the buttermilk for 3 days. Turn the meat every 12 hours. Wipe the buttermilk off the meat using paper towels and then you can season your meat accordingly. - Deborah Watson
 
• Soften tough meat by covering it all over with slices of green papaya; the enzymes in the fruit do an incredible job of breaking down fibres. They also impart a subtle and fragrant flavour to the meat - something between fresh cilantro and lemon rind. - Thania Olivier
 
• I usually use a cheaper cut of meat to prepare a stroganoff or casserole and these cuts tend to be a little tougher - a tablespoon or two of Old Brown Sherry is really a great tenderiser of meat. - Jodi-Lyn Bac
 
GENERAL COOKING TIPS
 
• For roasting meat, I put it in a hot oven 220 degrees C for 20 min. Add liquid (wine and water) then roast at 140 degrees C for remainder of the time (depending on weight of meat).  - David Moyle
 
• Do not season the steak before cooking as it will draw out the juices too quickly. With roasts I find it best to put them on a low heat overnight for succulent tasty meat.
 
For chicken I season the meat, put it in a roasting pan with lid WITHOUT water, put potatoes around it and put in oven for 2 hours on medium heat. Crispy, crispy, tasty and succulent chicken! - Susan Owen
 
Venison can have a very strong and gamey flavour. Soaking it in cola overnight will get that gamey flavour out of it. The acid in the cola will tenderise the tough meat too. - Lindy Hibbard
 
Let it rest! Steak should rest for at least half of the time it is cooked. That is, if you cook a medium-rare steak, you should cook it for 8 minutes a side (don't turn before the complete 8 minutes per side) - that is 16 minutes in total. Then, when you take it off the grill, you should leave it to rest for at least 8 minutes before serving.
 
Put the majority of your seasoning on while resting to ensure the meat soaks up all the flavour and you don’t lose it all in the pan or on the grill. - Vicky Verwey
 
• My best tip is for making of meat patties and frikkadels: add 1 finely grated carrot for 500g of mince to keep the meat succulent and moist. - Brenda Fernandes
 
• Cooking beef for a stew or lamb for a curry can take hours to reach perfection so that it is soft and succulent. If you don't have the hours to cook it, take about 2.5 litres cold water and 2T vinegar and place the meat in the water and vinegar mixture for about 15 minutes. Drain and cook - the meat will be soft in 40 minutes and not in 2 hours.  - Lara Scheltema
 
• Coat raw chicken strips with soya sauce, some Chinese 5 spice and a sprinkling of Maizena; toss into a pan with a little hot peanut or avocado chilli oil for 5 - 7 mins and voila! It’s ready and can be tossed with fried mushrooms into pasta or into wraps or pita pockets. Simple and delicious. -  Nicolette Wienand
 
• I really enjoy the technique called fry roasting. Take any cut of meat (usually the thicker the better for this) and seal all sides in a hot frying pan. Once all sides are nicely caramelised, place the meat in a low oven to finish the cooking process to your requirements.
 
The joy of this is that the juices are sealed inside and the low oven allows for cooked and very tender meat. This technique also works very well for people who like meat well done but without the dry-as-leather texture. - Bryan Rudd
 
• When cooking a roast, place the roast on a rack and pour a cider on the bottom of the pan. The apple and sugar in the cider gives the meat an amazing tenderness and taste. - Lauren Gibson
  
• Tip for cooking fillet steak: Steam in Grapetiser or Appletiser for about 10mins allow to roast in its own juices. This will keep meat succulent and tender. - Fatima Walljee
 
• Rinse bacon under cold water before frying. This reduces the amount the bacon shrinks by almost 50%. - Khim Franciscus
 
• If you are thinking of roasting a piece of pork you must make sure to buy a piece less lean and by cooking it on the bone will retain that sweet moist flavour. Also use seasoning with aromatic properties like bay leaf, garlic, lemon, ginger or apples to enhance the flavours of the roast. - Franco Grop
 
• When making veal shanks, a good dollop of balsamic vinegar added to the pot before putting it in the oven ensures not only “fall-off-the-bone" meat but also sticky brown appeal. - Tercia Morris
 
• When cooking fillet steak: fry first in a very hot cast iron pan with olive oil to sear all the sides for approximately 6 minutes  then place pan with meat in a previously heated oven of 200 degrees C to finish off. That way your meat is grilled on the outside cooked to perfection on the inside -  juicy but not charred. - Lauren Bezuidenhout
 
• If you have a cut of meat that is a bit tough, cut it into thin slices. Place a slice at a time on a board and flatten gently with your fist or a meat mallet. Place the slices into some beaten egg to which you have added salt pepper and a pinch of mixed herbs.
 
Have some dry bread crumbs ready on a flat plate, place each slice of meat in the crumbs. Press the crumbs on well then fry QUICKLY in a little oil. Then place on some roller towel. Serve this tender meat with a slice of lemon. - Loretta Valle
 
•When you grill meat, remember to rest for 1/2 of the cooking time and lay on its side - not flat. Note, on its side with the fat facing down - you will taste the difference! - Anne Reid
 
TIPS AND TRICKS FROM TASTE
 
DO YOU HAVE A BAKING TIP FOR US?
Our next tip hunt takes us on a baking trip. Do you have a flopproof tip for baking, or even a tiny little recipe that really works? Send it on in to win@tastemag.co.za and you could win a hamper of no less than three new baking titles: Susannah Blake's Cupcakes; Callie Martiz and Mari-Louis Guy's Cakes to Celebrate love and life and Heilie Pienaar's The Ultimate Book of Baking.
 
 


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