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Grilling and Meat Selection Tips

Courtesy of Executive Chef Jonathan Fairfax
Morton’s of Chicago Steakhouse
Hartford, Connecticut

Meat and Fish Selection Tips

Why is aged beef better than regular beef?  Aging beef allows the natural enzymes in the beef to break down the meat tissues, making it a more tender, flavorful piece of meat.

Can consumers buy aged beef? If so, are there any butcher shops or specialty meat stores you can recommend?  You can consult your local butcher for recommendations, but they are very limited.

What should shoppers look for when purchasing aged beef?  Consumers should look for moderate marbling. Marbling is intermuscular fat that runs throughout the meat, giving it flavor Consumers should also look for a bright red coloring.

If aged beef isn't available, what should consumers look for when buying beef (fat content, marbling, etc.)?   They will want to look for the marbling. An extremely lean steak will be tough after grilling, unless it is tenderloin or filet mignon at it is labeled in the store. 

What cuts of beef are the most flavorful?
        Rib eye Steak 
        New York Strip 
        Porterhouse (Morton's signature cut) 

What are the best cuts of beef for grilling?   The best cuts are as follows: Rib eye Steak, New York Strip, Porterhouse and T-Bone. Whatever steak you choose to grill, the thickness is the most important element in grilling. The steak should be at least 1-1/2 inches thick. 

What should shoppers look for when buying lamb?  Consumers should look fine textured and firm thin cuts of meat that are pink in color Remember, the darker the color the older the animal and the stronger the taste. The most tender cuts are loin and rib chops. 

Grilling Tips

How should the meat be prepared for grilling (e.g., temperature, seasoning, etc.)?   Bring the meat to room temperature and do not season until you are ready to cook. 

How hot should the grill be before starting to cook? Coals should be completely white, about 500-600 degrees on a normal grill. 

Is it necessary to always start with a clean grill? Doesn't the buildup on the grill contribute to the flavor? If a charred flavor is what you want OK, but many things are usually cooked on the grill so you tend to pick up the flavors of the other food. 

Is it true you should o only turn steaks once, searing on both sides? Why? The more you handle the steak, more flavor is lost. 

Should cooks test for doneness by cutting into the steak? If not, what are the alternatives? Use the palm of your hand. The pad of the base of the thumb would be equivalent to the feel of a rare steak, middle palm - medium steak and base of small finger, well done. 

Are there different techniques for different cuts of meat (e.g., do you cook a filet differently then you cook a porterhouse?) Filet will take longer because of the relative thickness, but still only needs to be turned once. 

What are the best techniques for grilling veal, pork and lamb? Much the same as steaks, yet some prefer to marinate lamb and pork. 

What are the best techniques for grilling vegetables? For example when cooking potatoes place them around the edge of a covered grill and cook for I - 1 112 hours before cooking steaks. 

Although it's best to serve steaks and other foods directly from the grill, sometimes circumstances require the cook to set aside already cooked items while other items cook. What's the best way to keep these items warm without drying them out? Keep them covered and in a warm place, always cook meat last.

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