Six tips and two tricks to buy quality meat

Today, most people no longer know how to buy meat. Between the lack of time and the purchase of the products in trays, most of the people I know buy this product for its appearance, without knowing how to choose the best pieces. So today I want to give you six tips and two tricks to buy quality meat.

I remember very well how I learned to buy meat, accompanying my mother or grandmother to the market. She knew which cuts were good for frying, breading, or stewing and listened to him ask for each cut by name. These are my tips to buy better meat.

How to buy quality meat

We all have the idea that the best meat in the world is that of our people, which, as is well known, also makes the best chorizos, etc. Anyway, -especially when we travel- we discover that in other areas of our country or in other countries of the world, there are also very rich meats, even, although it pains us to recognize it, better than those that we know better.

The meat that we usually buy is very different, in the supermarket or in the hypermarket or in department stores, because the vast majority of us do not go to the markets on a daily basis nor do they buy from specialized stores or butchers.

In supermarkets we can distinguish the packaged meat that we find refrigerated in trays covered with transparent film and that dispatched by the butcher - often not professional in the sector who barely knows how to cut the fillets - from whom we order the pieces we need.

Selection, breeds and Protected Geographical Indications

In a workshop I attended at the CarniCO butcher shop in Madrid, they told me that when buying meat, we often think that a certain breed of animal or meat from a PGI will be better than meats whose origin we do not know. Sorry, there are no affers in your region at this time. But as with wine, the breed or the origin of the animals -it would be equivalent to grapes- does not guarantee that we will be in front of good meat, in the same way that not all wines of a certain Denomination of Origin are the same good ones.

In the meat, as in the wine, other factors influence the breed, such as the animal's diet, how healthy it is and even the well-being it has had throughout its life, which will determine the final quality. In addition, other factors such as the sex of the animal, its age, etc. also influence.

Finally, another very important aspect -similar to the evolution of the wine in the cellar- is the maturation of the meat or the process of converting the muscle into meat, which will determine the nuances and quality of the meat that we are going to buy.

Six tips to buy quality meat

One: Try to buy the meat from a butcher you know. So you can interact with it and learn which cuts you like the most, to recognize them visually and to choose the ones that suit you best. If the person who dispatches you changes in your usual store every day, you will not be able to advance your knowledge about cuts of meat.

Two: Always ask about the origin of the animal and look at the meat labels where the breed, origin, name of the piece and other important information to choose one cut or another should come from. Don't hesitate to ask the age of the animal

Three: Learn to distinguish the existing types of meat:

In the same workshop I was talking about before, they explained the characteristics of the different types of meat that exist in the market and we can find them in butchers and supermarkets:

  • White or suckling veal: It supposes 1% of the meat that is produced and normally comes from Holland or France. These are animals less than 6 months old at the time of slaughter. It is not highly recommended to buy this meat since these animals do not usually eat from their mothers but rather eat powdered milk and their meat has little flavor. It is usually the one chosen for children or for the elderly because it is thought to be more tender but I do not recommend it, I prefer quality pink beef.
  • Pink calf: These are animals of more than 6 months and less than a year, that have been fed for about 6 to 8 months from their mother and that finish their nutrition a few months before their slaughter with a fattening period with feed, forage and cereals.
  • Yearling: Generally refers to animals that are more than one year old but are not yet steers or cows. For others, since the labeling rules do not make this issue clear, it refers to males, (calves) unlike beef. Common sense says that the animal is more than one year old and less than 20 months long, regardless of its sex.
  • Steer: Refers to animals over 20 months and under 4 years

  • Cow, for meat of animals over 4 years old
  • Ox, a male animal castrated between 6 and 9 months of age, slaughtered with more than 4 years or calf, when slaughtered before 4 years of age.

Four: Learn the names of the cuts you like

Never ask for tender steaks or minced meat without specifying which piece you want. Learn to choose tapilla or contra fillets when you want to make them grilled or shoulder or hip if you are going to bread them. Order a spine or needle headboard for your casseroles or choose a corner or shoulder when you want to grill a piece.

Learn from the experience and if you like, repeat that cut until you always know what meat to ask for.

Five: Trust the view.

If water or meat juices drip onto the tray from your butcher's counter - or you see the plastic wrap around the meat wet, that meat probably won't be very good. Try to choose pieces that look whole and do not drip juices. Also look at the color of the piece, the veining or infiltrated fat and the ratio of lean and fat.

And six: Dare to try other cuts and ask your butcher.

If you see a piece that you do not know or want to try cooking a dish that you have never made, ask for advice and so you will learn other recipes or ways to cook other cuts. If you see a recipe on our website that appeals to you, do not hesitate to ask your butcher for the specific cut and so you can make the recipe as we have told you.

Trick 1: how to keep meat quality at home

In addition to these six tips, I want to give you a trick that can also come in handy, and is practical for the proper preservation of meat at home. It is important to keep the meat in good condition when you make a large purchase or bring it from town.

If you are not going to eat it today, it is very important to freeze the meat. And it is also convenient to learn how to do it both when freezing and when defrosting. I am not saying that you freeze the meat when buying it, since for example some steaks will be in good condition for three or four days in your fridge. But if you are not going to eat them within that period, it is best to freeze them the first day, and not wait for the third or fourth to make that decision.

Freezing the meat wrapped in kitchen film, -and if you want with a second layer of aluminum foil on top- and labeling it correctly to identify it among what we keep in the freezer, we can consume the meat in very good conditions when we need it.

To do this, we will defrost it slowly, moving it from the freezer to the coldest area of ​​the fridge and after a slow defrosting of 24 hours, we will have it perfect, almost the same as when we bought it. Remember: Freeze fast and defrost slow.

Trick 2: Pay special attention to minced meat

In some cuts such as minced meat, we will only keep it in the fridge for 24 hours, freezing it if we are not going to use it at that time since the risks of contamination by bacteria are very high in this cut. Use or freeze immediately. Remember our trick for freezing minced meat in portions.

If you do not know for sure what you are going to do with it, it is almost preferable to buy a tray of those that come prepared because those bring additives that help preserve it. If you choose to order a piece of meat for mincing, try to get it through the machine only once and use it immediately.

Some of these tips come from my own experience as a buyer and others I learned during a meat workshop given by Álvaro Jiménez that I attended at CarniCO, in which they explained what factors influence the quality of meat, comparing them with the evolution of a good wine.

I hope that these six tips to buy quality meat and the two tricks to keep it at home come in handy and that you put them into practice. This way you will discover how the flavor of meat changes when you buy a quality product and preserve it properly.

Tags:  Fish Desserts Meats And Birds 

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