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Speaking of Beef
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by: Celebrity Recipes Magazine
 

The country's beef authority, Outback Restaurant, answers fundamental questions and discloses some beefy truths from the feed lots to your plates.

Do all cuts of beef have the same level of nutrients? Does cooking affect its nutritional content?
All beef is nutrient dense, meaning it contains a large amount of nutrients in relation to the size of the serving. In fact, beef provides 12 nutrients that are essential for good health. The nutrient values of protein, iron, zinc, and B-Complex vitamins vary only slightly from one cut to another. Cooking doesn't really change the nutritional value. Nutrients such as protein, iron, zinc and cholesterol are not significantly affected by heat and remain essential the same, even after cooking.

We keep hearing about eating a "standard serving size". How much is that?
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for beef states that the standard serving size is a 3-ounce cooked lean portion. That's roughly the size of a standard deck of cards. However, in order to allow for shrinkage during cooking, this 3-ounce serving size would need to be a 4 to 5 ounce portion when uncooked. But of course, when you visit any Outback Restaurant, the "standard size" always means bigger and more "bonzer" than the usual. So if you're really health conscious and don't want the extra pounds but can't say no to beef, why don't you bring along a friend to share the slice with you? Outback beef are good for sharing, too.

What does marbling have to do with beef flavor? Is it also good for the health?
Marbling, or the visible flecks of fat within muscles, is directly related to the lusciousness or flavor and juiciness of cooked beef. Simply put, the more marbling, the tastier the beef is. Since fat acts as the storehouse for aromatic compounds that are released during cooking, beef flavor components are found in these aromatic compounds. The juiciest meat cut is the Rib-Eye. Outback beef comes from grain-fed cows, thus its marbling is mono-saturated fat that's good for you!

What are the surefire ways to determine that I get only the freshest and best cuts of meat?
It is always best to look for the inspected and passed stamped marks for big cuts of meat. It is also ideal to go to the market early while your butcher is apportioning the beef carcass into retail cuts. Always buy meats from reliable outlets known for their high-quality products. Check out your supplier's cutting board (they should be smooth and clean) and personnel should be tidy. Take note that meat should be bright, red in color with no dark spots or marks.

What's the most important factor in beef tenderness?
The most important fact to remember when cooking tender beef cuts is that the degree of doneness to which beef is cooked has a greater influence on final palatability. Depending on degrees of doneness, steaks can become tender or tougher. Therefore to maximize palatability, beef steaks should be cooked to a lower degree of doneness (such as medium rare or medium) for a more tender, flavorful and juicer products.

Speaking of "doneness"... how do you determine doneness of beef?
Meat thermometers and the visual appearance of the beef aid in determining degrees of doneness. Beef color is also an indicator of degrees of doneness. For instance, a "pink center" means "medium" while a "brown gray center" means "medium rare". Braised or stewed beef is always cooked until well done. Tenderness is the clue to doneness; beef is fork-tender when a utility fork can be inserted without resistance and then releases easily when pulled out. Cooking beyond the fork tender stage can result in dry, stingy beef. At Outback, they serve perfectly cooked, flavorful beef by achieving a balance between the minimum amount of cooking needed for a maximum palatability and food safety.

To avoid wastage, what is the best way to store beef?
Do not refreeze thawed meat, this increases the risk of contamination and speed up wastage. Thaw meats in the refrigerator, not at room temperature. Apportion meats according to family size units before storing in the freezer. Label the type/cut of meat, as well as the date you purchased it. Soaking frozen meats or using the microwave will expose them to extreme temperature that will result to purging and losing the juices.

What about marinating? How does it help tenderize beef?
The marinade's acid chemically softens the connective tissue and reduces the time required for heat to convert collagen to gelatin. Allow sufficient time for marinating to be effective. Consider the type of meat, thickness, strength of the acid used in determining how much time you need to marinate the beef.

Why does a piece of meat get tougher as it cools down?
As meat cools down, so does collagen turned gelatin. When it cools, it thickens and therefore, the meat loses some of the tenderness. Nothing beats eating beef hot off the grill.

There are varied kinds and cuts of beef in the market and even in other steak restaurants. What makes Outback beef stand out?
Outback beef is tender, full-flavored and cooked to perfection. And to prove that, let's start from the basic. Beef quality is affected by factors such as Genetics, Feeding, Aging, Cutting and Cooking. Outback beef comes from the premier breed of grain-fed (feeding) Limousine, Hereford or Angus Cows (genetics), aged in a controlled sanitary environment (aging). It is either Prime or Choice cut done with pure craftsmanship, choosing only the "center cut" (cutting) to guarantee tenderness. It is vacuum sealed and kept intact just before the steaks are cooked and served to seal in freshness. Every Outback beef is prepared with 16 special seasonings (cooking) plus a dash of love. And as experts say, "getting a good cut of meat is only half the battle. The second half is being able to cook it properly!" --- and that's what Outback has perfected over the years! But why take our word for it? You have to try it for yourself!

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September 22, 2017

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