When I first started eating meat, I was only familiar with simple cuts of chicken and pork. Now, with my years of being a vegetarian behind me, I know better and I’m not shy about buying cuts of meat that need roasting, stewing, poaching, braising or grilling. So many flavours are available to us, it’s a shame to eat the same cuts frequently.
Roasting is effective for tender cuts of meat like racks of lamb, pork loin, poultry or beef ribs, rump and sirloin roasts. Put your meat in a hot oven for the first 15 minutes and then lower the temperature for the rest of the cooking process - making sure to baste the meat from time to time. Tender red meat can be underdone to your taste, but chicken and pork should be well-cooked through.
Slow-roasting is basically the same method as roasting, but with the oven at a lower temperature, for a longer period of time. This is very well suited for cuts that are too tough for regular roasting like lamb, pork shoulder and pork belly.
Pot-roasting is suitable for the same cuts of meat as slow-roasting. You brown your meat in a pot on all sides (this helps keep the juices inside the meat) and then put the pot with the meat in the oven to roast and add a liquid like stock halfway through the cooking process.
Pan-roasting is a bit like pot-roasting, but for tender cuts of meat and without a liquid. This is well-suited for tender cuts, but are still too thick to simply fry like a steak. You brown the meat on all sides in a pan and then put it in the oven for the rest of the cooking process.
Frying and stir-frying
These methods are probably the most used and are well suited for all kinds of tender cuts like chicken breasts, steaks, chops, ribs and tenderloins. For frying, you heat up a pan to a medium-high heat and then put some kind of healthy fat (coconut oil, ghee or other animal saturated fat that won’t burn), and cook the meat while turning every now and then until cooked through. For stir-frying, you cut your tender piece of meat in thin slices and put them in a sizzling hot wok, and then stir nonstop until your meat is cooked.
Grilling or as we like to call it here in Mzansi, Braaing
Simply sear your meat on the hot part of the braai and then let the rest of the cooking process happen on a medium-hot part of the braai.
A good way to cook tender meat like fish and chicken is poaching. You can poach whole chickens and whole fishes, but always have a tight lid that will cook even the parts that are outside the liquid with the steam it produces.
Stewing and Braising
This is used for tougher cuts like shoulders, shins or beef brisket and will produce a very flavourful and tender end product when done properly. Simply put your meat and a liquid like stock or water on the stove top, in the oven or in a crock-pot until the meat is fork tender. With braising, you usually use a whole cut of meat instead of having it cut in small pieces and you don’t cover the meat entirely with the liquid, letting the steam between the lid and the liquid do to rest.