Did you know that around 22% of food poisoning cases each year are linked to meat and poultry? That’s millions of people getting sick from meat that was either contaminated or cooked incorrectly. Preventing meat cooking mistakes can not only improve the taste and quality of your meat but keep you and your family safe.
While cooking meat can be intimidating, with the right skills and techniques, you can conquer any meat-based recipe. Here are the top six cooking mistakes when it comes to meat and how to avoid them.
One of the biggest culprits when it comes to cooking meat is undercooking it. Undercooking meat can lead to inside temperatures that are insufficient to ensure that harmful bacteria get killed. This is especially important when it comes to poultry meats like chicken and turkey.
Poultry meats often carry salmonella, which often causes food poisoning and severe sickness. It’s Important to take precautions with poultry meat and cook it thoroughly, with inside temperatures reaching 165°F.
While overcooking your meat isn’t dangerous for your health, it can lead to dry meat that is hard to chew. This is because overcooking your meat causes the muscle fibers in your cut to become tight. The meat toughens to the point that it can shrink in size, as the fat and juices get cooked out of it.
Much of the flavor in meat comes from the fat within it. Overcooking it to the point where little to no fat content is left causes it to lose flavor, leaving you with bland and lifeless meat that adds little to your dish.
3. Using Too Much Salt and Seasoning
Seasoning and salt are integral parts of cooking all types of meat. However, when you use too much salt and even other seasonings it can overwhelm the meat’s flavor. Adding too much salt can cause your meat to become hard to palate unless you’re curing your meat, such as the ham used in making tasso ham.
Adding too much seasoning and salt can be fixed by adding other things to your meat to dilute the saltiness. Although, this does require you to augment your original plans for your meat, so season carefully!
Cross-contamination is another way people may get sick from meat. Cross-contamination happens when utensils, plates, and even marinade used to prepare the raw meat come back into contact with the cooked meat. This causes you to consume bacteria and other contaminants reintroduced to the dish after the meat cooking process.
To avoid this, it’s important to keep anything that comes into contact with the raw meat separate and washed immediately. This ensures that anything your cooked meat touches after is safe for you and your family.
5. Cooking Frozen Meat
Cooking frozen meat can ruin your dish in several ways. When meat isn’t allowed to thaw out and come to room temperature, you risk overcooking the meat on the outside, leaving the inside undercooked and possibly still cold. This is even more important when using thick cuts of meat like whole poultry, brisket, and filets.
Letting your meat defrost is an important part of the prepping process, and is one way to ensure that your food can reach the proper temperatures for cooking meat.
6. Not Resting Your Meat
Resting your meat is one step that is often overlooked. Not letting your meat rest can alter your finished product. When you take your meat off of the heat source, your meat continues to cook for a few minutes longer.
This means that the fat and juices within the meat haven’t been reabsorbed back into the muscle fibers. When you cut into hot meat, you might notice that it appears very juicy. However, this loss of liquid can leave your meat less flavorful and dry, taking away from the experience of your meal.
Stop Making Meat Cooking Mistakes Today!
Using meat within your recipes can bring their flavors to the next level. When you take the time to make sure that you’re cooking your meat properly, you keep yourself safe and enjoy amazing meals.
Don’t let meat cooking mistakes hold your dishes back from shining to their fullest potential, and start making meat the right way today!
If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn more cooking tips, be sure to check out our other posts in food and beer!