Grilling a piece of meat in a pan on the stove has to be one of the most basic cooking techniques simply because it’s used so often. It’s also a simple way of applying heat to food and making it cooked.
Despite how simple it sounds, there is actually room for error – you could end up with burnt meat, the outside could be burnt but the inside is raw, or your meat just doesn’t get that caramelised look. But don’t worry, there are some easy things you can do to get your meat cooked properly each time, and you’re in luck, cause I’m going to share them with you today.
Better grilling tips
1. Have the heat high when preheating the pan.
2. But lower the heat about a minute after you put the meat into the pan.
3. Put less into the pan. The more you put in, called crowding the pan, the faster you lose the heat. The heat dissipates and the food begins to let out its juices and it begins to cook in those juices (this is called stewing). Whit it seems like it would be a good idea to cook the meat in its juices all it really does is leave the meat dry. By putting less meat in the pan you’ll have to cook it over 2-3 batches but at least the meat will be cooked better in the long run.
4. When cooking bigger pieces of meat, like a steak or a thick fish fillet its best to cook the first side of the meat for about 3/4 of the total cooking time, then turn the meat over for the final quarter. This works well for all meat types.
5. When you cook meat in bigger pieces like steaks or roasts you need to rest the meat at the end of the cooking time. Resting simply means leaving the meat on a plate covered with foil for 5-10 minutes (depending on size) so that the meat can finish cooking on its own. When the meat cooks the fibres of the meat tense up, but when you relax the meat the fibres relax and it makes for a better taste and texture.
6. If you’re reheating meat, don’t cook it using high power (100% heat) in the microwave as this dries the meat out very fast (microwaves work by making the water cells burst and evaporate). Instead sprinkle a tap or two of water over the meat and use a reheating setting on the microwave. If there isn’t a reheat setting then use about 70% power (they’ll be a setting somewhere you can change to reduce the power).
7. If you’re reheating meat and don’t want to use a microwave you can reheat it on a low setting in the oven or on a pan on the stove. It will take longer to reheat this way, and watch it to make sure you’re not drying it out.
8. Don’t poke the meat as you cook it, nor flip it over and back several times. The poking means juices are released and as I said in tip 3, you’ll just stew the meat instead of grill it. Flipping means you’ll end up giving the meat less heat overall cause it will have spend half the cooking time in the air and not coo extend to the heat. Both types of ‘playing’ with the food end up with worse results than if you just leave the meat alone.
9. Use a timer when you’re learning to cook meat so that you can replicate what you did next time. Beef steaks took 15 minutes but were too done to your liking? Then next time cook for 10 mins and rest for 3 and see if it’s more suited to your taste, etc.
10. Learn what the correct cooking looks like for your type of meat. Pressing gently on the meat will show you how much ‘give’ is in the food (i.e. How much bounce back there is). Too soft and it’ll give a lot. Too hard and it’ll hardly move.
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What other problems do you encounter when cooking meat? Share them in the comments below.