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Beef Fact Sheet

Marinating Tips

  • Less tender cuts of beef should be marinated to enhance tenderness. The cuts include: top round steak, eye round steak, chuck shoulder steak, skirt steak and flank steak. Tender cuts of beef can be marinated for flavor.

  • Marinate in the refrigerator, NEVER at room temperature.

  • Marinate in a food-safe plastic bag or glass utility dish.

  • Turn meat occasionally during marinating so that all sides are equally exposed to marinade.

  • Allow 1/4 to 1/2 cup marinade for each 1 to 2 lbs. of beef.

  • If a marinade is to be used later for basting or served as a sauce, reserve a portion of it before adding the beef.

  • Marinade that has been in contact with uncooked meat must be brought to a full rolling boil before it can be used as a sauce.

  • For Flavor Only, Marinate for 15 minutes to 2 hours. For Tenderizing, Marinate for at least 6 hours. Marinating longer than 24 hours can result in a mushy surface texture.

Preparation Tips

  • Leave a thin layer of fat on steaks and roasts during cooking to preserve juiciness. Trim fat after cooking.

  • Pat beef steaks, cubes and pot roasts dry with paper toweling for better browning.

  • To make cutting strips for stir-frying easier, partially freeze beef to firm.

  • Use a gentle touch with ground beef. Overmixing or compacting will result in firm dense burgers, meatballs or meatloaves when cooked.

  • Salt beef after cooking or browning. Salt draws out moisture and inhibits browning.

  • For tender cuts, dry heat methods such as broiling, roasting, pan-broiling, sauteing/pan-frying, and grilling are best. Moist heat methods, such as braising and cooking in liquid, are better choices for less tender cuts.

  • High heat can overcook or char the outside of beef cuts while the inside remains underdone. For tender beef, cooked to the desired doneness, use medium heat with dry cookery methods and low heat for moist cookery methods.

  • Turn steaks and roasts with tongs. Do not use a fork, which pierces the beef and allows flavorful juices to escape.

  • Turn ground beef patties with a spatula. Do not flatten them, causing flavorful juices to escape and resulting in a dry burger.


Preparation Methods

Pan-Broiling Beef

  • Heat heavy nonstick skillet 5 minutes over medium heat.

  • Season beef (straight from refrigerator), as desired. Place beef in preheated skillet (do not overcrowd). Do not add oil or water. Do not cover.

  • Pan broil according to chart, turning once. (For cuts 4 inch thick, turn occasionally) Remove excess drippings from skillet as they accumulate. After cooking, season beef with salt, if desired.

Pan-Frying Beef

This cooking method is best for thin, tender beef cuts. Lean cuts, such as cubed steaks or floured and breaded cuts, may require additional oil to prevent sticking.

  • Heat small amount of oil in heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot.

  • Season beef (straight from refrigerator), as desired. Place beef in preheated skillet (do not overcrowd). Do not add water. Do not cover.

  • Pan-fry to desired doneness, turning occasionally. After cooking, season beef with salt, if desired.

Broiling Beef

  • Set oven regulator for broiling; preheat for 40 minutes. During broiling, the oven door for electric ranges should be left ajar; the oven door for gas ranges should remain closed. (However, consult your owner's manual for specific broiling guidelines.)

  • Place beef (straight from refrigerator) on rack of broiler pan. Season beef, as desired. Position broiler pan so that surface of beef is within specified distance from the heat as indicated in chart.

  • Broil according to chart, turning once. After cooking, season beef with salt, if desired.

Stir-Frying Beef

Cook beef and vegetables separately, then combine and heat through. The cooking liquid may be thickened with cornstarch dissolved in water, if desired.

  • Partially freeze beef for easier slicing. Cut into thin, uniform strips or pieces. Marinate to add flavor or tenderize while preparing other ingredients, if desired.

  • Heat small amount of oil in wok or large heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot.

  • Stir-fry beef in half-pound batches (do not overcrowd), continuously turning with a scooping motion, until outside surface of beef is no longer pink. Add additional oil for each batch, if necessary.

Roasting Beef

  • Heat oven to temperature specified in chart.

  • Place roast (straight from refrigerator), fat side up, on rack in shallow roasting pan. Season roast, as desired. Insert ovenproof meat thermometer so tip is centered in thickest part of roast, not resting in fat or touching bone. Do not add water. Do not cover.

  • Roast according to chart. Transfer roast to carving board; tent loosely with aluminum foil. Let roast stand 15 minutes. (Temperature will continue to rise 5 to 10° F to reach desired doneness and roast will be easier to carve.) 

Grilling Beef

  • Prepare charcoal for grilling. When coals are medium, ash - colored (approximately 30 minutes), spread in single later and check cooking temperature. Position cooking grid. (To check temperature, cautiously hold the palm of your hand above the coals at cooking height. Count the number of seconds you can hold your hand in that position before the heat forces you to pull it away; approximately 4 seconds for medium heat.)

  • Season beef (straight from refrigerator), as desired. Place on cooking grid directly over coals.

  • Grill according to chart, turning occasionally. After cooking, season beef with salt, if desired. (Because gas grill brands vary greatly, consult your owner's manual for grilling guidelines.)

Cooking Beef In Liquid

The cooking liquid may be reduced or thickened for a sauce, as desired.
  • Coat beef lightly with seasoned flour, if desired. Slowly brown on all sides in small amount of oil in heating pan. Pour off drippings. Omit browning step for corned beef brisket.

  • Cover beef with liquid (e.g. broth, water, juice, beer or wine). Add seasoning, as desired. Bring liquid to boil; reduce heat to low.

  • Cover tightly and simmer gently over low heat on top of the range according to chart or until beef is fork-tender.

Braising Beef
The cooking liquid may be reduced or thickened for a sauce, as desired.
  • Slowly brown beef on all sides in small amount of oil in heavy pan. Pour off drippings. Season beef, as desired.

  • Add small amount (1/2 to 2 cups) of liquid (e.g. broth, water, juice, beer or wine).

  • Cover tightly and simmer gently over low heat on top of the range or in a 325° F oven according to chart or until beef is fork-tender.

Storage Tips

  • When shopping, select beef just before checking out. If it will take longer than 30 minutes to get home, keep it cold in a cooler until you can refrigerate it.

  • Immediately freeze any beef you don't plan to use within a few days and store it at 0° F or colder. Label each package with the date, name of beef cut and weight or number of servings.

  • Beef can be frozen in its original transparent packaging for up to two weeks. For longer storage, prevent freezer burn by rewrapping the beef in moisture-proof airtight material such as freezer paper, food-safe plastic freezer bags or heavy-duty aluminum foil. Squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing.

  • Refrigerate leftovers promptly after serving (within two hours after cooking). Divide large quantities of food into smaller portions or spread out in a shallow container to chill more quickly.

Safety Tips

  • For food safety reasons, USDA/FSIS recommends cooking beef steaks to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F (medium rare) and ground beef patties to 160°F (medium).

  • The most accurate way to determine doneness is to use an instant-read thermometer. Horizontally insert the thermometer into the steak or burger near the end of cooking time and check the temperature. An instant-read thermometer is not heatproof so it cannot be left in while cooking, but once inserted, the temperature registers in seconds.

  • Wash hands thoroughly in hot soapy water before and after handling meat and other fresh foods. Wash all utensils, cutting surfaces and counters with hot soapy water after contact with raw meat.

  • Keep raw meat and meat juices from coming into contact with other foods during preparation. Keep carving boards separate from other cutting boards.

  • Keep in mind that ground meats are more perishable than roasts or steaks. During grinding, any bacteria that are on the surface are mixed throughout the meat, resulting in shorter shelf life.

Source: National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
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