What Makes Meat Tender or Tough? - Pressure Cooker Knowledge

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What's On This Page?

What Happens During Cooking

Which Cut Is The Most Tender?

What Makes Meat Juicy and Tender

What Makes Meat Tough?

What is Collagen?

Which Cut Is The Most Tender?

The primal cuts listed below are ranked according to their tenderness, with 1 representing the most tender and 5 representing the toughest.

Primal* Cut

Degree of Tenderness

Short Loin

1

Rib

2

Sirloin

2

Best Cuts for Pressure Cooking

Chuck

3

Round

3

Flank

4

Plate

5

Brisket and Shank

5

*Whole primal beef cuts may be purchased from a butcher or meat locker or it may be possible to obtained them from a special order from some food stores. Because of their size, it is generally not practical to order whole primal beef cuts for home use.

What is Collagen?

For cooking purposes, meat consists of, lean tissue, proteins, collagen and 75% water. Collagen exists in flesh, bone and connective tissue, and is very important to the cook because the amount of collagen in a piece of meat will determine the length of time it should be cooked for. Therefore, the higher the level of connective tissue, the longer the meat will need to be cooked. So, when cooking meat, you will first need to decide whether or not it has a high amount of connective tissue.

Weight-bearing muscles and muscles that are constantly used, contain higher amounts of collagen than muscles that aren't used for support or aren't used as frequently. Cows and pigs have higher amounts of collagen in the legs, chest, and rump. Pork is generally more tender than meat because pigs are usually slaughtered at a younger age than cows, and so their muscles are less developed and have less collagen than do those of cows.

What Happens During Cooking

Temperature Cooking Stage

104

Proteins in meat start to denature.

122

Collagen begins to contract.

131

Collagen starts softening.

160

The meat no longer holds oxygen and turns gray.

212

Water in meat begins to evaporate into steam.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4304720,00.html

What Makes Meat Juicy and Tender

Juiciness and tenderness are two very important factors when it comes to meat quality. Both factors are influenced by the cut of meat you choose and how long the meat is cooked. The more a muscle is used, the stronger, and therefore tougher, the cut of meat will be. And the longer meat is cooked, the more liquid it loses and the tougher it becomes. Factors that also influence tenderness and juiciness are: The animal's age at slaughter, the amount of fat and collagen (connective tissue) contained in particular cuts.

What Makes Meat Tough?

Collagen is a long, stiff protein that is the most prevalent protein in mammals. It's  something like the way fibers are twisted around each other to form a rope. This structure is what makes the collagen so strong; this strength is also what makes it more difficult to break down. The more collagen there is in a piece of meat, the tougher it is to cut and to chew.  For cuts that are high in collagen, cooking with methods that use moist heat are the best. Collagen is soluble in water and when it is cooked  with moist heat, it becomes gelatin.

Weight-bearing muscles and muscles that are constantly used contain higher amounts of collagen than muscles that aren't used for support or aren't used as frequently. Cows and pigs have higher amounts of collagen in the legs, chest, and rump. Pork is generally more tender than meat because pigs are usually slaughtered at a younger age than cows, and so their muscles are less developed and have less collagen than do those of cows.

 
 

 

 

 

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