When cooking beef, keeping it tender and juicy is of utmost importance – and it really isn’t that difficult. With the following cooking tips, you’ll have perfectly cooked beef every time.
Cooking tip #1: Understand your cuts
First things first: The tenderness and juiciness of beef is influenced by the cut. The more muscle in the meat, the tougher it will be. Likewise, the more fat, the juicier. The most tender cuts of beef are (in decreasing order): tenderloin steak, top blade steak, top loin sirloin, rib roast, rib steak, and rib eye steak. And keep in mind that beef with a bone-in will have more flavor.
Cooking tip #2: Match quality to purpose
If you are cooking beef simply, without heavy sauces, choose the best grade of meat possible. For stews or meals featuring sauces, you can opt for less expensive cuts.
Cooking tip #3: Get the grade
There are three grades of beef: prime, choice and quality-select. Grade is determined by marbling — the amount of fat imbedded in beef that keeps it moist. The tenderest beef will have marbling throughout and not just on the outer edges. Marbling is important because once you cook beef, the fat will begin to melt and add flavor and juiciness. Prime is the most highly marbled with fat as well as the most tender and tasty.
Cooking tip #4: Buy brightly colored
Make sure your beef is fairly firm and is a bright red color. If beef is a darker red to brown, it may be older. And though properly-aged beef will be more tender, most grocery stores do not carry aged beef.
Cooking tip #5: Keep beef fresh
As soon as you get your beef home, if you are not cooking it that day, remove it from the butcher paper and wrap it in plastic wrap. Then place it in a zip-lock bag and keep it refrigerated.
Cooking tip #6: Marinate for added flavor
To prepare beef for cooking, wipe it with a clean damp cloth and consider a simple marinade. Marinating meat can help add tenderness and flavor — but remember that good quality beef won’t need a lot of extra flavor to taste good. Even just a generous sprinkle of salt and black pepper can be enough. However, a mixture of wine, olive oil, lemon juice, and a few fresh herbs and spices can be a great overnight marinade to help tenderize.
Cooking tip #7: Cook evenly
Before you cook your beef, remove it from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. This will ensure that it cooks more evenly because it will be the same temperature throughout.
Cooking tip #8: Be temperature-wise
How you cook your beef will have a major influence on tenderness and juiciness. For most cuts of beef, you should cook it to an internal temperature of 130 degrees F. for rare and 140 degrees F. for medium-cooking meat. Any higher than medium will be dry. Use a meat thermometer to get accurate internal temperatures.
Cooking tip #9: Sear, then roast
A good method for cooking tender cuts of beef is to sear the outside in a hot, lightly oiled cast iron or heavy bottomed skillet and then finish it in a 400 degree F. oven. While cooking, only flip the beef once and always use tongs to flip, not a fork. If the meat is cut into, all of the juices will immediately run out.
Cooking tip #10: Let it rest
Remove beef from the oven and let it rest for at least 5 minutes before cutting. You want the juices to settle and distribute before serving.