Do you know how to cook beef?
I didn’t (until I married a cattleman). In my pre-farm, typical-subdivision days, I usually made meals with ingredients other than beef. In fact, the first meal I cooked for Matt involved seafood, not beef. LOL!
I think I was secretly a little intimidated by beef. I believed that beef was extremely complicated to cook. I knew how to brown hamburger in a skillet and throw a steak on the grill, but that’s not complicated. I was sure there was more to it.
Since that time, I’ve learned a thing or two about beef. I discovered that it’s not hard to cook beef. Plus, many beef cuts are very forgiving, which means they’ll still taste great even if you’re a newbie.
There are several different ways to cook beef, but it comes down to two main types of cooking methods: dry heat and moist heat. Dry heat cooking uses hot air to conduct the heat around the beef. Think roasting, broiling or sautéing. Moist heat cooking is any method that involves cooking with moisture, like braising or stewing. The reason dry heat and moist heat are important is because you need to choose the right type of cooking method for the beef cut. Once you pair the cut and the cooking method, the rest is easy.
7 Beef Cooking Methods:
Braising & Stewing: Braising and stewing are moist heat cooking methods. They are great for anyone who is extremely busy or beginning cooks. They require very little hands-on time, work best with less-expensive cuts of beef, and the results always turn out great.
The term braising may be new to you, but you’ve probably done it before. With braising, you briefly sear beef at a high temperature, and then transfer the beef to a covered pot. You can use a crock pot, dutch oven, or any other large pot with a tight-fitting lid. That means those “plain ‘ole crock-pot-meal” may really be a fancy dish with braised meat. 🙂
There are two big differences between braising and stewing. First, braising is for large cuts of beef (like a roast). Stewing is for beef that is cut into pieces (think of stew meat). Second, with stewing, the liquid will entirely cover whatever beef dish you’re making. With braising, you’ll only have a little liquid in your pot.
The best cuts of beef for braising or stewing are cuts that are from hard-working muscle groups because they usually have more marbling. These cuts are traditionally known to be tougher, but they become extremely tender when cooked low and slow. Look for cuts like brisket, short ribs, chuck roast, bottom round roast, and arm roasts.
Baking: You may not think of baking when it comes to meat, but it does happen occasionally like when you’re making a casserole. Baking is done in an oven and uses either a covered or uncovered pan.
Baking and roasting (see below) are similar, but the difference between the two is in the temperature and initial texture of the food. Generally, baking is done at lower temperatures (375 degrees and lower) and is with foods without much structure (think cake mix and cookie dough). Roasting is done with higher heats (400 degrees or higher) and is with foods with a definite structure (think meat and veggies).
Broiling: I always think of broiling as indoor grilling. The biggest difference between broiling and grilling is where the heat comes from – above or below. Broiling uses dry heat, and the heat is above the beef. Broiling beef is great because it takes minimum time, it’s easy to do with any oven, and it results in great flavor.
When you broil steak, I recommend setting your oven for broil and preheat for about 10 minutes. Your oven should be hot before you start cooking the meat. The length of time to broil beef will vary based on the cut’s thickness, similar to when cooking on a grill. For a ¾-inch steak, it will take about 10 minutes to broil it to Medium doneness.
Grilling: Grilling does’t need much of an explanation. It’s a dry-heat cooking method, and you cook food over hot coals or a gas flame. One of the biggest secrets of grilling is to give your grill plenty of time to heat up.
An easy test for checking how hot your grill is to put your hand just above the grill rack, and see how high you can count. If you can put your hand close to the grill and count to two…one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi…the heat is high. If you can get to 4 or 5 seconds, the heat is medium high. If you can count to 6 to 8, it’s medium high heat. If you count to 9-10, it’s medium-low, and counting to 11 or higher means it’s low heat.
Our favorite cuts for grilling are hamburger and steaks, and we go into more details here. You can also grill a brisket, but if you do this you’ll use indirect heat and the temperature will be much lower.
Roasting: Years and years ago roasting would have meant using a spit-roast and cooking a part of an animal over an open flame. Today, you can avoid the open flame and use your oven (thank goodness!)
The secret of roasting is using a high heat to brown the exterior of the meat for a savory, browned crust. But, you have to be careful that you don’t roast it so much that the meat dries out. One of the ways to get around having dry beef is to use a baster to keep the meat moist while it’s roasting.
With roasting, the beef cut counts. The best cuts for roasting are tender, like loin or sirloin. One of our favorite cuts to roast is a Sirloin Tip Roast. Also, make sure you season the beef before roasting. For example, a salt and pepper rub will give the roast a very rich flavor compared to no rub at all. Last but not least, you’re going to want to use a meat thermometer when roasting. The outer crust on meat when roasting can be deceiving. Using a meat thermometer will help ensure you don’t overcook your beef.
Sautéing: There are all different types of skillet cooking methods, but one of my favorites is sautéing. With sautéing, you will cook beef in a skillet on high heat so that it quickly browns the beef. You need to use thinner cuts of beef that are ½ inch in thickness or less, and make sure to dry the meat with a paper towel before sautéing so that it will brown easily.
When the raw meat is ready, place a heavy-bottom skillet on the stove and allow it to become hot. Just like grilling, you can easily test the temperature of your skillet by holding your hand above the skillet and counting to two-Mississippi. Then, coat the bottom of the pan with oil.
Place the meat in the pan. When you do, the oil will sizzle. If it doesn’t sizzle, the pan isn’t hot enough. If the oil starts to pop too much, you can turn the heat down to a medium-high heat. The meat will take approximately 2-3 minutes to cook on each side. Once it’s cooked, you’ll remove the meat from the pain. If you want, you can also use some of the browned bits left in the skillet to make a delicious pan sauce for your beef.
Do you have a question about beef or how to cook it? Let us know!