Make more money from your meat dishes

By Richard Brooks, with the Rational VarioCooking Centre

Introduction

In kitchens up and down the country, chefs are under more pressure than ever before – with GP front and centre. 

However, a kitchen under pressure can sometimes be a kitchen where corners are cut and staff members rush their cooking. 

This can be disastrous for both your customers AND your GP.  The way food is cooked can negatively affect your gross profit and the taste of your food. 

A good case in point is the way meat is prepared, especially for large batch-cooked meals like pies, stews and casseroles. Meat often can lost up to 25 percent of its volume when it’s cooked if you don’t follow some simple rules. 

Not only does cooking meat incorrectly reduce the meat yield and, subsequently, your profits, it also affects the taste and texture of the meat itself, negatively affecting your customers experience. 

In this blog, I’m going to outline how best to prepare your meat to get the best yield, the best texture and the best taste. I’ll outline how you can achieve this with the most basic of equipment, although I used the Rational Vario Cooking Centre when preparing the video that goes along with this post. 

1. Know the fat content of the meat cut you choose

Whatever cut of meat you use for your pies, stews or casseroles, it’s important to understand the cut you have chosen and its makeup. Very fatty cuts need a high heat to break down the fat, whereas leaner meats will require much closer monitoring, as you need to maintain high heat but not so much to burn.

2. Make sure you have complete control over your appliance’s heat

This leads directly from the last point: having complete control over the heat going into your pan is absolutely paramount. This sounds obvious, but it’s easy to overcrowd a pan so that some of the meat is getting a lot of heat and some is getting comparatively little. This can drop the overall heat of the pan. The result is, rather than searing the meat, the juices and oil will start to boil and this will break down the structural integrity of the meat, ruining its texture and taste. If you don’t get a good sear you lose the internal juices of the meat. That moisture is flavour and it’s also money, as you are losing the volume of the meat, you are losing profit!

The Vario Cooking Centre manages this for you, by monitoring and adjusting its heat settings constantly, but you can replicate this by keeping an eye on the meat and making sure it is cooking and searing well, and not burning or, worse, boiling. 

Classeq Undercounter Glasswashers Range
Merrychef Eikon e2s

3. Get the perfect sear

As we’ve said, the proper sear is where you can guarantee the volume and weight of your meat, and also lock in moisture and flavour. Getting your pan to a high heat – not so high the oil burns, but still high – helps to achieve this. Look for good viscosity of oil before you thrown in the meat – which should sizzle as soon as the meat hits it.  

Even though with chuck steak or similar the temptation is to throw the meat into the pan and turn it over vigorously, I’d recommend thinking of the lumps of meat as mini steaks: try and cook them evenly on both sides, allowing them to build up healthy colour as you go. 

4. De-glaze for taste and tenderness

After the sear, the bottom of the pan should be a lovely golden brown colour. This represents a real depth of flavour you need to bring into the dish. To do this, you need to deglaze the pan.  You can use any number of liquids, depending on your dish – wine, beer or stock could all be perfect. 

The key element is to understand that the temperature will drop in your pan when you add your liquid, and the flavour of your final dish will depend on getting that temperature back into the pan as quickly as possible. 

Again, I had an advantage working with the Vario Cooking Centre, which monitors its temperature dynamically and adjusts the power it gives to the heating elements to avoid big temperature drops. However, if you are using gas or another electrical appliance you can make sure this happens right by being ready for the temperature drop when you add your liquid. Again, this is helped by not overcrowding your pan either. This might mean you have to batch your meat cooking, but it will be worth it in the end because you will produce juicy meat that is packed with flavour and doesn’t lose its volume. 

Conclusion

If you want to maximise your profit from meat products and give your customers even more flavour, here are the steps I’d recommend: 

  1. Know the fat content of the meat you’re cooking
  2. Make sure you have complete control over your appliance’s heat
  3. Get the perfect sear
  4. Deglaze quickly for taste and success

If you follow these tips, no matter what equipment you are using (as long as it can maintain a high enough temperature) there’s no reason you can’t produce fantastic meat dishes that taste great and maximise your profits. 

 

Learn More

If you are interested in trying out the Rational Vario Cooking Centre, have a look at our website. We offer a variety of flexible procurement methods meaning that whatever your situation, and whether you want to rent or buy, we will have something that will suit you.  Click on the link below to see the range’s models for you to consider: 

See our range of Lincat equipment

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