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A helpful hint on cooking beef.

Avoiding the more expensive cuts of beef -- T-bone and porterhouse steaks, prime rib, etc. -- is healthier for both the pocketbook and the body, since it's the fatty marbling that makes these more tasty and thus more popular. The leanest cuts, on the other hand, require more imagination if they are to please fussy palates.

One compromise is boneless chuck, one of the most economical cuts. It also makes a great pot roast with minimal preparation. Because most of the fat is scattered throughout, rather than on the edge, trimming is not practical, but most of the fat can be dealt with after cooking. For a basic pot roast (to which can be added potatoes, onions, carrots, or whatever), simply put the entire 3-4 pound piece of meat in a baking pan. Next, cover it with a single can's contents of cream of mushroom soup (Campbell's now makes a low-fat variety), and sprinkle a single packet of dried onion soup over it.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for about three hours. (It's a good idea to check it for doneness then, for it may need a bit more cooking.) When removed from the oven, the meat will be sitting in a pool of gravy, topped with a generous layer of melted fat. Rather than trying to remove the fat with a ladle or kitchen syringe, let the pan cool, put it in the refrigerator, and use it the next day (or prepare it in the morning for use that evening). The fat is then easily removed -- including larger chunks of fat scattered throughout the different muscle bundles that make up this cut. The gravy will then be mostly cream of mushroom soup mixed with the not-so-fatty juices from the meat. Enjoy!

Cooking Tip of the Month

Marinating can improve lean cuts of meat that lack flavor or are not very tender, and can do wonders for vegetables -- but use low- or nonfat ingredients in preparing a marinade. These include herbs, spices, fruit juices, vegetable juices, soy sauce, mustard, vinegar, yogurt, broth, ketchup, jam, sugar, honey, and wine. The secret to marinating is to make sure the ingredients are evenly distributed, to penetrate all parts of the meat. The marinade can also be used as a basting liquid to moisten meat during cooking.

Marinating is a slow process, so the food -- especially meat -- should be refrigerated. Items for grilling can be marinated in a strong zip-sealed bag turned periodically. Otherwise use ceramic or glass containers and stir the liquid while turning the meat over from time to time. For grilling, bring the food to room temperature first, to prevent uveven cooking.
COPYRIGHT 1997 Benjamin Franklin Literary & Medical Society, Inc.
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Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Brown, Edwin W.
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Dec 1, 1997
Words:445
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