Healthy Prep Tips from the Test Kitchen
Numerous factors contribute to how healthy a dish will be. The ingredients, prep, sauces, and cooking methods all play important roles. When it comes to cooking healthy meals, start with healthier beef. When you choose Certified Piedmontese® beef, you get beef that doesn’t rely on fatty marbling for tenderness—so naturally leaner cuts are still tender, while naturally fatty cuts are notably healthier with the same great texture. Once you’ve picked the cut, here are some healthy ways to prepare it.
Braising involves cooking meat mostly submerged in liquid, slow and low, until it becomes fall-apart tender and infused with the flavors of the braising liquid. You can also cook vegetables in the same pot for an easy, one-pan meal. As a slow cooking method, braising is ideal for less tender cuts, such as chuck, brisket, or skirt. For best results, sear the meat first in a small amount of oil. Then deglaze the pan and build a braising liquid using stock, wine, beer, cider, aromatics, herbs, and spices. Skim any excess fat from the top of the braising liquid and transfer to the oven to cook with vegetables until the meat is fork-tender.
Grilling is an easy way to impart a smoky, flavorful char that heightens the flavor of meat. But prior to grilling, people often use marinades to provide additional flavor. Marinades, regrettably, can be packed with fat, sodium, and sugar. When you do opt for a marinade, stick with aromatic herbs and spices, such as thyme and garlic, and go easy on the oil and butter.
When the weather doesn’t allow for outdoor grilling or when you need to cook a meal quickly, broiling can put a steak on the table in about 20 minutes. Broiling involves cooking meats about four or five inches from the heat source (the oven broiler), which is suspended above foods. To broil steaks, preheat the broiler and the pan. Preheating the pan allows the underside to still cook while the top is seared by the broiler. Season steak and transfer it to the pan. Broil for four to 10 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the cut (keep an eye on thinner steaks, which can overcook quickly). Leave the oven door partially open during broiling to keep the oven from overheating.
When you’re serving a crowd of four or more, roasts are a great option. Cooking times will vary depending on the size of your cut; some can be ready in under an hour (such as tri-tip and sirloin roast roast), while others need a bit more time. Regardless, roasting is a largely hands-off and healthy cooking method. Be sure to let the meat rest at room temperature to take off some of the chill from the refrigerator before prepping. Then simply transfer the roast to a roasting rack inserted into a sheet pan, season, and pop into a preheated oven.