We've recently discovered the Author's Answers Series from Leite's Culinaria and have been tearing through their archives! David Leite's most recent interview is with John Torode, chef of Smiths of Smithsfield and author of Beef and Other Bovine Matters, who shares some great tips for cooking meat at home...
When buying meat, Torode says you just need to understand from where on the animal the cut of meat is coming. He reminds us that the muscles that do all the work will be full of flavor but take longer to cook, while the muscles on the back and belly of the animal will cook quickly but have less beef flavor. Once you're familiar with which cut comes from where, it's easy to pick out or substitute cuts simply based on how you're planning to use it.
Secondly, Torode cautions against buying uniformly red meat, which has very little fat. Marbling is a good thing - this interior fat provides flavor and keeps the cut moist and tender. Torode waves off worries about fat content and calories saying that a good amount of the fat ends up left in the pan and you're free to cut out any remaining fat after cooking - and after it's already done its job of adding flavor and texture.
Speaking of cooking, Torode had some good pointers on cooking steaks. He advises oiling the cut of meat, not the pan, to prevent the oil from burning or developing off flavors, and also to make sure the pan is scorching hot before adding the steak. If you find that your steak tends to curl up on you while it's cooking, Torode says to simply snip the sinew that runs down the middle of the steak - it's this sinew tightening that causes the meat to curl.
Believe it or not, this was only a snippet of David Leite's entire conversation with John Torode! They go on to talk about the differences between US beef and beef from other parts of the world, the difficulties of cooking restaurant dishes at home, and the case for eating veal. Head on over to Leite's Culinaria to listen to the whole interview!
• Author's Answers: Interview with John Torode from Leite's Culinaria (plays automatically in Firefox and Internet Explorer. Also available from iTunes)
• Buy a copy of Beef and Other Bovine Matters by John Torode on Amazon for $23.07.
Related: How to Broil Steak in the Oven