As the weather starts to shift into summer, now is a great time to start incorporating some outdoor meat cooking techniques with your indoor methods. It gives you an opportunity to spice up your meal options.
Just like there are a variety of meat cut options to choose from, there are different cooking methods that can be used to cook your meat. We’ll cover some of our favorites below.
When deciding what’s for dinner, you can start with the meat and then pick the cooking method that is best for that particular cut of meat. You can also do it the other way around. Pick the cooking method you want to use, then choose your cut of meat. Either way, the options are numerous and tasty.
Before we get into the best indoor and outdoor cooking methods, all of these methods really fall into two general types of cooking methods: dry-heat cooking and moist-heat cooking. We want to provide a quick summary of each before diving into the specific details of cooking techniques.
As you decide which cooking methods to use, you should always consider the tenderness of the cut. This makes a huge impact on the type of cooking technique you might want to use, whether inside or outside.
Like it sounds, dry-heat cooking relies on heat from above or below to cook the meat. Cooking methods that fall under dry-heat cooking are best for tender cuts of meat. It may be possible to use dry-heat methods on less tender cuts if they are marinated first.
Examples of dry-heat cooking include baking, broiling, grilling, pan-frying, roasting, searing, stir-frying, and more.
This type of cooking relies on moisture (liquid or steam) to transfer heat to cook the meat. Moist-heat cooking is recommended for tougher cuts of meat, as it typically uses the “low and slow” approach. As it slowly cooks, the moisture helps soften the connective tissue.
Examples of moist-heat cooking include braising, boiling, poaching, steaming, and stewing.
Here are five indoor meat cooking methods we recommend trying.
Roasting relies on indirect heat in the oven that cooks the meat on all sides. For tougher cuts of meat, you would use a lower temperature (200 to 350 degrees) for a longer period of time. For more tender cuts, you would use a higher temperature (up to 450 degrees) and cook it for less time.
Roasting is best with large cuts of meat like beef tenderloin, leg of lamb, pork loin, pork shoulder, or whole chickens or turkeys.
Pan-frying uses fat (butter or oil) in a frying pan or skillet to cook the meat on the stovetop. High heat is used to sear the meat. This creates that browned crust that seals in the juices and flavor. The length of time needed is determined by the thickness of the meat. Thinner cuts (under 1 inch thick) require less time than thicker cuts (1 to 1.5 inches thick).
Pan-frying is great to use with steaks (New York strip, rib-eye, sirloin). You can also use this technique with fish, chicken, or pork.
Broiling uses a high temperature to cook the meat from above in the oven. The meat is usually inches away from the heat source. You can similarly compare this technique to grilling, but upside-down. When broiling, you cook one side of the meat at a time. Due to the high heat and proximity to the heat source, the meat can brown very quickly.
Broiling is best to use with thin and flat cuts of meat like skirt steak, chicken breast, or fish filet. This method can also be used to finish off braised meat to give them a crispy crust.
Braising relies on liquid to cook the meat. You usually sear the meat first and then transfer it to a covered pot. Inside the pot, you’ll add a small amount of broth, stock, or water. The meat, which is partially submerged, cooks at a low heat for a long period of time. As the liquid reduces, the meat softens and becomes fork tender.
Braising is great for cheaper and tougher cuts of meat like a rump roast, pork shoulder, chuck roast, lamb shank, brisket, and bottom round.
Stewing is similar to braising because it involves cooking meat in liquid at a low temperature for a long period of time. However, stewing is cooking meat that has been cubed or cut into smaller pieces rather than one large piece of meat. Over time, the connective tissue (collagen) breaks down and becomes tender.
Stewing is ideal for meats that are tough and collagen-rich like brisket, oxtail, short ribs, or chuck roast. You want to avoid lean cuts of meat.
Other indoor methods include baking, deep fat frying, pan broiling, pressure cooking, poaching, sauteing, sous viding, and stir-frying.
Now that we’ve covered indoor cooking methods, here are four outdoor meat cooking methods to try.
Grilling is what most people think of when they consider outdoor cooking. When grilling, you can use high, medium, or low heat depending on what you’re cooking. The meat is usually placed on the grill grate with the heat source directly below it. Since it cooks one side at a time, the meat needs to be flipped to cook both sides. This also helps to obtain the desired grill marks. Grilling methods can differ based on using a gas grill or charcoal grill.
Grilling is great for a variety of meats including burgers, hot dogs, steaks, kebabs, chops, chicken, and sturdy fish (salmon, tuna, or swordfish). For less tender cuts, they can be marinated before grilling. Fragile fish can also be cooked on a grill if wrapped in foil.
Smoking exposes meat to smoke to preserve or add flavor. It relies on low and indirect heat. Indirect heat means that the meat is not placed directly over the heat source. Instead, it is placed away from the heat, often in a second chamber. Specific hardwood chips (such as hickory or mesquite) are added to create the desired smoke flavor. To smoke meat, it’s recommended that you use a smoker that was designed for this particular cooking technique. It’s also possible to use a charcoal grill.
Smoking is ideal for tough cuts of meats such as brisket, pork butt, pork shoulder, pork ribs, or beef spare ribs. It is best to avoid tender cuts as they will dry out over the long cooking period.
Dutch oven cooking can be done while camping or using your backyard fire pit. It simply requires a cast-iron Dutch oven and hot coals. Many recipes work great in a dutch oven. You can use it for chili or stew. You can also use it to braise a whole pork shoulder or to sear a steak.
Dutch oven cooking allows you to boil, steam, sear, pan-fry, braise, and bake. Use the appropriate cut of meat for the cooking technique you want to use.
Spit-roasting is another name for rotisserie. Meat is placed on a skewer, which is a long rod. The skewer is then secured over a fire, hot coals, or on a grill. The skewer needs to be rotated continuously as the meat cooks to ensure an even cook. As the meat cooks, the juices naturally baste the meat to keep it moist. A motor is used to keep the meat spinning.
Spit-roasting is perfect for cuts that are cylindrical like boneless roasts, pork shoulders, pork loins, and whole birds. You can also use a rotisserie basket to spit-roast fish.
As you’re looking to try one of these meat cooking techniques for your next meal, check out the meat products and packages available through Grand Peaks Prime Meats. We offer a variety of high-quality, prime meats that are great for braising, roasting, grilling, and more. We work with local sources to ensure that our customers have the best meat options possible. Contact us with any questions about our products or to place an order.