Beef

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Beef is the culinary name for cattle meat. A form of red meat, it is a staple part of non vegetarian diets. Beef is a popular component of most European, American and Middle Eastern dishes. One of the most commonly eaten dishes around the world, the hamburger, is generally made of beef.

Beef eating traces its roots to the Middle East where people started domesticating cattle for food around 6500 B.C. Interestingly, beef, which is now an integral part of the North American diet is not native to the continent. It was brought on ships by European colonists. And the Americans were not much into consuming fresh beef until about 1870, when the cattle industry in the western part of the continent experienced enormous growth. The introduction of cattle cars and refrigerated cars on the railroad facilitated distribution of the beef.

Contents

Why should I be aware of this?

  • A high-beef diet has an adverse effect on a person's health. It is associated with high blood pressure, cholesterol and heart disease.
  • The method of preparing beef has a direct impact on a person's health. For example, the common methods for cooking ground beef are broiling, roasting, frying. The method used and the amount of fat used can make a significant impact on a person’s risk for developing cardio vascular disease.
  • There are, nutritional benefits in keeping beef in your diet. Beef is an important and useful part of any well-balanced diet. It is a good source of protein and minerals.
  • Following the BSE (mad cow disease) crisis in Britain, stringent controls were brought into place in beef production and certain products were banned. There are now restrictions on the age of animals from which meat can come for certain products (such as T-bone steaks). The move addresses some of the health concerns raised by people.
  • Beef is available all year round. It is suitable for those living in the cold climates.

All about beef

Beef is taken from full grown cattle which is at least two years old. A live steer weighs about 1,000 pounds and yields about 450 pounds of edible meat.

Finishing is the final stage of cattle production. Two to six months before animals are ready for market, they are sent to a feedlot where cattle are fed a high protein and energy diet so they will gain weight prior to slaughter.

"Baby beef" and "calf" are 2 interchangeable terms used to describe young cattle weighing about 700 pounds that have been raised mainly on milk and grass. The meat cuts from baby beef are smaller; the meat is light red and contains less fat than beef. The fat may have a yellow tint due to the vitamin A in grass.

Veal is meat from milk-fed less than 3 months old calf weighing about 150 pounds. Veal is pale pink and contains more cholesterol than beef.

Types of Beef

Beef can be classified depending on its lineage or the way it has been reared. There are at least 50 breeds of beef cattle, but fewer than 10 make up most cattle produced. Some major breeds are

  • Angus
  • Hereford
  • Charolais
  • Brahman
  • Shorthorn
  • Kobe

Beef can also be calssified on the basis of the way it is reared.

Tips on buying

Colour is often cited as a means of determining quality of beef but it cannot be used as the main indicator of quality. Always check the 'use by' dates on pre-packed meat.

  • Burgandy coloured beef -- Meat that has been matured traditionally - hung and exposed to the air after slaughter for up to several weeks, or 'dry-aged' - will tend to be deep burgundy in colour with creamy, yellowish fat and will develop a more concentrated, complex flavour as it ages. The ageing process, if done correctly, can increase the tenderness of meat.
  • Bright red beef -- Meat that has been vacuum-packed shortly after slaughter will retain a bright red appearance with white fat for a much longer time. This meat can still be tender but may lack the complexity of flavour of traditionally dry-aged beef. Most of the meat sold in supermarkets will be vacuum-packed and is seldom dry-aged for any length of time. Some supermarkets are now selling dry-aged beef which is clearly labelled as such.
  • Brown colour beef -- The brown colouring indicates the meat has been open to the air for some time and should not be taken as an indication of quality. If the beef is brown, chekc if it is firm to the touch. If it is wet, slimy meat or meat with a greenish-grey tinge and an 'off' smell, avoid it.
  • Marbled beef -- Many people prefer beef that's 'marbled' (flecked throughout) with fat. Marbled meat is considered to be more flavoursome and tender because the fat lubricates the meat during cooking and adds another layer of flavour. However leaner meat needn't be lacking in flavour if cooked properly.

Storing and freezing

  • Always store beef in the coldest part of the fridge.
  • Ensure that the fridge maintains a temperature below 4 degrees Celsius.
  • If the beef is in a cling-filmed tray, leave it in the packaging until ready for use.
  • If it is not in a cling-filmed tray, put the meat on a plate, loosely wrap in greaseproof paper or foil, and store it in the fridge away from cooked meats.
  • Never let the meat or its juices come into contact with other foods in the fridge, particularly ready-to-eat foods.
  • Beef will keep for up to five days in the fridge, depending on how fresh it is when you buy it.
  • Mince and offal are best eaten within two days.
  • Vacuum-packed meat will normally last even longer but check the use-by date to be sure.
  • Quickly freezing beef reduces the chance of damage to the texture or succulence of the meat.
  • Use frozen beef within six months.
  • If you have cooked beef for eating later, cool it as quickly as possible (ideally within one to two hours), cover and refrigerate and eat within two days.
  • Do not place hot into the fridge, which would risk raising the temperature of other foods that need to be kept cold.

Cooking tips

  • It is important to know the degree of temperatures to cook the beef.
  • It is also important to know which part of beef you want to cook.
  • Some suggest loin and rib for dry cooking, as it is more tender than other parts where the cow has more muscles which are tougher.
  • Cooking temperature assumes importance when the meat is juicier and contains more blood. It will have more beef calories. It is recommended that you cook it as Medium rare, medium or medium well.
    • Medium Rare -- This is cooking in temperatures of 130 – 140°F (54 – 60°C) makes the beef juicy in the center.
    • Medium -- The beef is cooked in temperatures of 140 – 150°F (60 – 66°C) makes it less juicy.
    • Medium well -- The beef is cooked in temperatures of 150 – 160°F (66 – 71°C) which will result a thin line of pink in the center.

Beef calories

Here a list of beef calories[1]:

  • Broiled beef steak (85 gr.), lean meat topped with sirloin – 156 beef calories.
  • Broiled beef steak (85 gr.), filet mignon lean meat – 164 beef calories.
  • Ground beef (110 gr.), 90% lean raw meat – 199 beef calories.
  • Ground beef (85 gr.), pan browned, 85% lean fat free meat – 218 beef calories.
  • Trimmed beef steak (450 gr.), raw lean and fat, topped with sirloin – 594 beef calories.
  • Ground beef (110 gr.), 95% raw fat free lean meat – 155 beef calories.
  • Trimmed beef (690 gr.), lean and fat roasted meat, bottom sirloin – 1184 beef calories.
  • Ground beef (85 gr.), pan browned, 80% fat free lean meat – 231 beef calories.
  • Mince beef, extra lean steak (100 gr.), fried without oil – 174 beef calories.
  • Mince beef, lean steak (100 gr), fried without oil – 183 beef calories.
  • Trimmed beef steak (85 gr), filet mignon lean meat – 185 beef calories

Beef and health

  • Beef can be considered a natural multivitamin because it is an excellent source of protein, zinc, vitamin B12, iron, niacin, vitamin B6, and phosphorus. Just a 3 ounce serving of beef can provide over 10% of your required daily value of these nutrients.
  • Half of the fatty acids found in beef are monounsaturated fats.

Readers' Corner

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See also

References

  • Beef Nutrition Facts
  • Beef:BBC Food
  • Beef calories
  • Types of beef
  • Journal of Nutrition