Tenderness and Appropriate
The heat of cooking affects
tenderness in two ways:
1. It tenderizes
connective tissue, if moisture is present and cooking is
2. It toughens
protein. Even meats low in connective tissue can be tough if cooked at
excessively high heats for too long.
The principle of
1. High heat
toughens and shrinks protein and results in excessive moisture loss.
Therefore, low heat cooking should be the general practice for most meat
Broiling seems to be a contradiction to this rule. The reason that
carefully broiled meat stays tender is that it is done quickly. It takes
time for the heat to be conducted to the interior of the meat, so the
inside never gets very hot. Meat broiled well done, however, is likely
to be dry.
Roasts cooked at low temperature have better yields than those roasted
at high heat. That is, they shrink less and lose less
heat penetrates more quickly than dry heat. Meat should be simmered,
connective tissue is highest in muscles that are more frequently exercised
and in more mature animals.
1. Rib and
Loin Cuts : always the
tenderest cuts, used mostly for roasts, steaks, and chops.
Because these meats
are often eaten rare or medium done, the rib and loin are used
almost exclusively for roasting, broiling, and
2. Leg or
Round : the cuts of the round are
less tender and are used mostly for braising.
High-grade Prime or Choice rounds can also be roasted. The roasts are so large that,
roasted at low temperatures for
a long time, the beef's own moisture helps
dissolve collagen. Inside round (top round) is favored for roasts because
its size and relative tenderness.
Beef round is
very lean. It is best roasted rare. Lack of fat makes well-done round
excellent roasts, since large muscles with few seams and uniform grain
allow easy slicing and attractive
3. Chuck or Shoulder : beef chuck is a tougher
cut that is usually braised
4. Shanks, Breast, Brisket,
Flank : these are the least tender
cuts, even on young animals, and are almost always
cooked by moist
heat. Shanks are
very desirable for braising and simmering, since their high collagen
converted into much gelatin that gives body to braising liquids
and good eating quality to the meat. Beef flank
steaks can be broiled (as London broil) if they are cooked rare and cut
across the grain into thin slices. This cuts the connective tissue into
5. Ground Meat, Cubed
Steaks, Stew Meat : these can come from any
primal cut. They are usually made from trimmings, although whole chucks
are sometimes ground into chopped meat. Ground meat and cubed steaks can
be cooked by dry or moist heat, since they have been mechanically
tenderized. Stew meat is, of course, cooked by moist heat.