When it comes to meat, very few people know which cuts to use for which dishes. Finding a trustworthy butcher at your local supermarket is not always easy. If you don’t know the difference between a topside and T-bone, you could be gnawing your way through “elephant neck” at your next barbecue.
The characteristics of a really succulent meat dish are its tenderness, juiciness and flavor. These depend on the quality of the meat used in its preparation. How tender meat is will depend to a large extent on the quantity and nature of the connective tissue and to a lesser extent, on how much fat is present in the muscle. The younger the animal the more tender the meat. The quality of any meat can be determined by the overall appearance of the carcass or the cut of meat. The best cut has the largest proportion of meat to bone. The color, thickness, degree of hardness or softness and the even distribution of fat over the carcass are very important.
Tips on Buying Meat:
1. Beef – flesh must be bright, cherry red, firm and finely grained. With white or creamy in the young animal. Deep yellow in older animals. If there is a lot of fat in the muscle tissue (marbling), the meat is particularly tasty and juicy.
2. Veal – flesh must be pale pink, finely grained and smooth. The skin/fat must be with thin outer covering of fat, no marbling. Large proportion of bones to the amount of meat. Cut surfaces are red and porous.
3. Lamb – flesh must be light red and finely grained with fat/skin white or creamy white in the young animal. Bones are soft and porous. The carcass should be evenly fleshed and even covering of fat.
4. Mutton – flesh must be darker red than lamb. White and brittle fat/skin. Bones much harder than lamb. Meat from animals more than three years old is stringy and tough. Overlarge carcass with too much fat is a too old animal.
5. Pork – flesh must be red to pale red with fat/skin white or creamy connected to flesh.
Names of Beef Cuts:
(Forequarter) – bolo, shin, hump, neck, prime rib, chuck, flat rib and brisket
(Hindquarter) – thin flank, wing rib, sirloin, rump, topside, silverside, aitchbone, thick flank
Names of Mutton Cuts: neck, raised shoulder, flank, breast & shank, thick rib, thick rib chop, rib, loin, loin chop, leg and chump chop