COOKING FROZEN AND THAWED MEATS
Most cuts of meats should be thawed or tempered before they are cooked. Bulk ground beef, diced meat, and Swiss steak should be completely thawed before they are cooked.
Thawed meats and meats cooked while frozen are prepared exactly as chilled meats. The principle of using lower temperatures cooking is equally applicable to all meats.
If cooked in the frozen state, roasts will require approximately one-third to one-half additional cooking time. Seasoning should be delayed until the outside is somewhat thawed and the surface is sufficiently moist to retain salt, pepper, and flour. The insertion of the meat thermometer can be delayed until the roasts are partially thawed.
Ground Meats, Diced Meats, and Swiss Steak
Ground meats, diced meats, and Swiss steak must be completely thawed before cooking. Beef pattie mix used for meatballs, meat patties, and meat loaf requires mixing with other ingredients and shaping before cooking. Since diced meats used in stews or other recipes often are dredged in flour and seasonings before browning, they must be thawed. Swiss steak also requires thawing before cooking.
Preformed beef patties with soy, 100 percent hamburger patties, grill steak pork chops, and beef patties require tempering before cooking.
To temper meat, remove from freezer and place under refrigeration for a period of time sufficient to help ease separation and handling of the frozen product. Internal temperature of the food should be approximately 26°F to 28°F. The additional time required to cook meats completely done while frozen ties up the cook's time, as well as grill space. Grill steak should never be completely thawed before grilling. Once thawed, the steaks will be dry and tough. Some styles may also fall apart.
Liver should be partially thawed to ensure a moist and palatable product and to provide slices that are uniform and attractive in appearance. If liver appears greenish after grilling, it is not spoiled.
The method used to cook meat is determined by the kind of meat and the tenderness of the cut. Tender cuts require a dry heat method. However, tough cuts require moist heat and long, slow cooking.
Moist heat refers to cooking with added liquid or steam. Moist heat methods include braising, simmering, and stewing. These methods are used to cook less tender cuts of meat.
Stewing and Simmering
One method of moist heat cooking is stewing. It is the method used in preparing the least tender cuts of meat. Small pieces of meat cooked in water are said to be stewed: large pieces are said to be simmered. In each case, the meat is covered with water and simmered-kept just below the boiling temperature. It is never boiled. Boiling the meat for the length of time required to tenderize it will dissolve the connective tissue completely and the meat will fall apart and become stringy and dry.
Vegetables may or may not be added to the stew. If they are added, they should be cooked to the "just tender" point and should still retain their color, shape, and flavor after they are cooked. The gravy should be light and smooth and have the same flavor as the meat. The meat is dredged in seasoned flour and browned in a small amount of fat. Stews are made in a steam-jacketed kettle that has a hinged lid. The stew should be held at the simmering temperature until the meat is done, usually about 2 hours. Meat cooked in liquid is tender and juicy and holds its shape when sliced. Usually the steam-jacketed kettle is used so that the meat can be completely submerged in the liquid at all times.
Braising is used to prepare tough cuts of meat. Check the Armed Forces Recipe Service (AFRS) for those cuts of meat that should be braised.
To braise, meat is browned in a small amount of added fat, then covered and cooked slowly in the juices from the meat or in a small amount of liquid that is added. The liquid may be water, stock, vegetable juices, thin sauces, or a combination of these liquids. Just enough liquid to start the natural juices in the meat should be used. Only a small amount of liquid should be added at a time as the color and appearance of both the meat and gravy are better if the liquid is kept to a minimum. Pot roast and Swiss steak are cooked using this method of moist heat cooking. Flavor is improved by dredging the pieces of meat in seasoned flour, then browning them in a small amount of fat, or by marinating the meat in a well-seasoned mixture of vinegar, vegetables, and spices (such as sauerbraten). Browning the meat develops flavor and aroma, and a rich brown color is typical of well-prepared braised dishes.
After the meat has been browned, the temperature is reduced, and cooking is continued at a low temperature so that the liquid will not boil. Braising may be done in the oven, on top of the range in a deep pot or in the steam-jacketed kettle. Whichever method is used, the container should be tightly covered. The aim of braising is to produce a piece of meat that is evenly browned on the exterior, tender, juicy, and evenly cooked throughout, with no stringiness. Meat cuts that are braised are always cooked to the well-done stage.
The term boiled that is applied to such dishes as New England boiled dinner is actually in conflict with good meat cookery principles. Boiling meats for long periods dissolves the connective tissue, causing the meat to separate. The meat becomes dry, stringy, and tough, making it impossible to carve uniform, thin slices from large cuts.
Meat may be fried in deep fat, in an oven by panfrying, or in a pan with a small amount of fat by sauteeing.
PANFRYING.- Sauteing or shallow panfrying is done on the range or griddle in a pan with just enough fat to keep the meat from sticking. This method of cooking is sometimes more economical and less work when a small amount of food is to be fried
The fat should be heated to the proper temperature before the meat is placed into it; otherwise, the meat will absorb too much of the fat and will be unappetizing. The correct temperatures are indicated on the recipe cards.
Liver, any tender meats (such as grill steaks), and meat mixtures that are breaded or floured may be fried with good results.
DEEP-FAT FRYING.- Deep-fat frying is done by completely immersing the meat in heated deep fat and allowing it to remain in the fat until it is done.
Meat that is to be deep fried should be breaded to prevent an excessive loss of moisture. It is also important to have the fat at the proper temperature. If it is too hot, the exterior of the meat will brown excessively before the interior has had time to cook. If it is too cool, the meat will absorb too much fat and be greasy. A deep-fat thermometer is the only accurate way to determine the temperature of the fat.
For best results, the pieces to be fried should be of uniform size, and the basket should not be overloaded. Just enough pieces should be placed in the basket to completely cover the bottom of the fry basket. This method permits the hot fat to completely surround the meat and ensures thorough cooking. When the basket is overloaded, the fat is cooled excessively, and the hot fat cannot circulate freely.
Fry only one kind of meat or food item at a time. Fry the meat as quickly as possible and only as needed (practice batch cookery). Drain to remove excess fat after cooking, then salt or season. Never salt or season food directly over the fr,
OVEN FRYING.- Oven frying is similar to baking or roasting except fat is added. Food may be oven fried with or without breading.