Category: Chanur (AB)
Considering how much meat costs in a regular grocery store, it can become an even bigger concern to the blood type dieter because we are to eat as “clean” as possible. Organic meat is even more expensive than the main stream type. My husband has recently received yet another wage reduction from his employer. My husband is an O. He requires meat on a regular basis. So, I can relate to those of you who want to save money and to those of you on tight budgets.
You probably already know that one way is to buy cheaper, less than terrific cuts of meat. However, you may not know how to make them not tough and nasty. If that is the case, then all you need is an understanding of how heat affects tenderness to make them just as attractive as the more expensive ones.
Heat does two things. You probably already know that it toughens proteins. It does this by making them contract/shrink as they cook. It also tenderizes connective tissue by breaking it down if there is moisture and the temperature is low (meaning you have to cook it a long time). Now that you know this, you can tenderize any tough cut of meat. All you need now to go with your meat, heat, and moisture is a roasting pan with a lid, a stockpot with a lid, or a slowcooker/Crockpot. Herbs and spices help for added flavor, but they are not absolute necessities.
If you use a Crockpot, you don’t even need to add any additional moisture...but it is usually more flavorful if you do. The extra moisture can also make a great sauce to put over an accompaning side dish. If you chose to add something liquid, just be sure not to add more than three cups at most. The meat alone has plenty in it already. Be sure you don't keep lifting the lid to check on how it's coming along. Crockpots lose their heat very rapidly and can take a while to reheat themselves. If you do not add any additional moisture, the juices that do cook out will be much more concentrated in meat flavor. There won’t be as much liquid produced to use to make a sauce or gravy, but it will be much better flavored so you won’t need as much.
Another reason to use a slowcooker is that it saves you time because it can cook for you when you are not even awake or home. My fellow AB’s: waking up to the wonderful aroma of lamb shanks that have been cooking all night in tomato sauce, red wine, Italian herbs, onions, garlic can in NO WAY ever begin to be compared to the aroma of my son’s brewing morning coffee. The lamb wins every time, no contest. Honest. I experienced it yet again this very morning.
Need a way to cook these meats faster? Go back in time and rediscover the pressure cooker. Today’s models are really much improved over the ones that your mother and/or grandmother used. Another faster method is to go ahead and cook your tough meat as if it was a tender cut, but, before you start cooking it, work it over good with a meat mallet or a fork. Then, after you cook it, cut it as thinly as possible across the grain. What’s the grain? If you look closely at a piece of meat, you will see that it has a definite direction in which the tissues prefer to lay. That is the grain and the direction that it goes.
While I’m on the subject of faster cooking methods, if you could use a faster baking time I recommend looking into the possibility of getting yourself a convection oven. Be extra careful when using it when children are around; the exterior of the non-commercial ones can get VERY hot. Also, do not use these ovens to speed up cooking your tough cuts of meat. It will not work.
Back to the tough meats now. If you feel that you have a potentially really tough cut of meat, than you probably should use a marinade before you even start the cooking process. You will want your marinade to be based on an acid of some sort. Some examples are tomato & tomato products (read your labels to check for those sneaky avoids), wine, fresh pineapple juice (not cooked or canned), and citrus juice(s).
Do not use just an acid alone if you intend to marinade the meat for any longer than a couple of hours. Mix it with some sort of oil...using at least a one to one ratio of acid to oil. More oil than acid is preferable. I would suggest mixing other items into your marinade even if you are not planning on marinating your meat for very long - it will give your dish extra flavor!