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Lean meat.

Lean meat

We're hearing more about it today, but meat has actually been getting leaner for some time. Years ago, when Westerners first began to prefer lighter diets, ranchers began breeding for leaner meat, favoring more muscular, larger-framed animals that reach market weight earlier.

Compared to 30 years ago, beef cattle have 40 percent less fat, yielding meat that's 8 to 10 percent leaner. Hogs have 50 percent less fat, and pork is 6 to 8 percent leaner. Lambs have almost doubled in weight, producing more lean meat in relation to fat.

Old charts listing nutrients and calories in meat are obsolete, and not only because meat has changed. A comprehensive update of existing nutritional information on meats, begun in the late 1970s, is nearly finished, and it's far more detailed and accurate than anything available before.

For one thing, we now know how important the cut of meat is--now widely fat content varies from place to place on the same animal. Park tenderloin, for example, is one of the leanest meats, with about 140 calories in a trimmed, cooked 3-ounce serving; a same-weight portion of pork sparerib meat has about 340 calories. A chart on page 186 gives the new calorie counts and fat and cholesterol values for a sampling of meat cuts.

Most people realize how important it is to cut back on fat in the diet. The problem, as cooks have discovered, is that meats can lose tenderness and flavor as they become leaner. And the wrong cooking method can put the fat right back on the plate again.

In Sunset's own kitchens, we've done extensive testing to discover the best ways to cook lean meats without adding high-calorie ingredients. Cooked with the appropriate techniques, these meats can be made almost as tender and succulent as fatter cuts. On pages 94 through 97, we explain six basic cooking techniques we've found give good results. By varying meats, seasonings, and serving accompaniments, you can use these six techniques to produce a whole repertoire of low-calorie meat dishes.

But our lean-meat strategy really begins with a new way of looking at meat cuts in the market--assessing their yield of lean meat and its potential for lighter meals. On the pages that follow, we show you which cuts of beef, veal, pork, and lamb usually offer a good proportion of lean meat. Most of the meats need some further cutting at home, and we tell you how to do it. When you cut meat at home, you can often trim off extra fat and still save over the price of ready-to-cook packaged meats--and you can use the bones and trimmings for making soup.

When you don't have time to do your own cutting, you can buy meats already sliced thin for scaloppine, cut into strips for stirfrying, or cubed for skewers.

Shopping for beef

New, leaner breeds of cattle are also being fed differently, and for shorter periods. Less time in feed lots results in meat with less marbling (the tiny streaks of fat you see interlaced with lean muscle).

Marbling is still the main indicator of quality used in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's grading standards for beef. Of the three top grades, Prime is the fattiest, followed by Choice, then Good-- although the difference in fat content between well-trimmed Choice and Good beef is now quite small. Very little Prime beef is produced today, and most of that is sold to restaurants. If all beef were graded (it's not: grading is optional, paid for by packers who choose to use the service; all meat, however, is inspected for wholesomeness), most beef sold in the West today would be rated Good.

The tenderest roasts and steaks come from the loin and rib sections. However, many parts of the less expensive round and chuck can be tender and succulent if prepared by our techniques. The leanest beef comes from the round, but carefully trimmed cuts from the loin, rib, and chuck can also be low in fat.

The beef cuts described here are usually economical sources of lean meat. You can divide these larger cuts for several different meals, freezing what you plan to use later. More expensive cuts of boneless lean meat include the all-tender rib eye and tenderloin roasts and flank steak.

Chuck: blade and 7-bone roasts. Both have a lot of seam fat, but it's easily trimmed away. Blade cuts include some of the tender "eye' muscle (a continuation of the rib eye) and usually have a little more separable fat than 7-bone roasts.

To have pieces thick enough to cut as directed below, buy a 4- to 5-pound roast. Select the blade roast with the smallest blade bone and largest eye. Chose the 7-bone roast with the longest 7-bone; cuts nearest the neck have a shorter bone but less tender meat. The grain runs perpendicular to the surface of these cuts; after trimming away the fat and connective tissue, turn meat and slice parallel to the original cut.

Chuck: boneless shoulder. The whole muscle, weighing 10 to 12 pounds, is usually divided to make several roasts or thick steaks. In California, they're opten called cross-rib roasts, and the tapering end is often sold as diamond or Diamond Jim roast. Most of the meat is tender when cut across the grain.

Round. You can buy parts of the round separately as top round steak (often called London broil), eye of round roast, or bottom round pot roast. The full-cut steak, a cross-section of the leg, includes some of all three parts. Round steaks are usually not cut exactly across the grain; the cooked meat will be most tender if cut in slanting slices. In eye of round roats, the grain always runs lengthwise.

To use a full-cut steak for several meals, choose one that's 1 to 2 inches thick. It provides top round thick enough for London broil, with enough meat left for several other meals. Separate the three parts along the natural seams. If top round has an extra strip of meat on top, remove it and add to bottom round meat.

Round tip roast. Often called sirloin tip, this boneless cut is usually split down the middle into two 3 1/2- to 4-pound roasts. Both roasts are equally lean and tender, but one side has a seam through it and the other is more solid and a little more versatile. Untie or remove netting. You might cut a London broil steak off the widest end. The tapering end has a little more connective tissue, but the whole piece is quite tender.

Triangle tip (tri-tip). This boneless cut, weighing 1 1/2 to 2 pounds, is a muscle from the bottom sirloin. It is often sliced and sold as culotte steaks. The whole piece is tender when cut cross-grain. Cut into steaks, or grill whole.

Shopping for veal

Veal may come from animals as young as a week or as old as five months. The color of the meat depends on the animal's diet. A calf raised solely on milk or milk replacers produces meat that's grayish white to creamy pink in color. As the dietis supplemented with grass and grain, the meat becomes pinker.

What little meat the very youngest animals have on their bones is quite bland in flavor. Premium-quality veal usually comes from animals fed mainly on milk and milk replacers for four months or longer. This meat is creamy pink, with a smooth, firm texture; most of it is sold under brand names of companies that raise the animals.

Veal has little surface fat and almost no marbling. A 3-ounce serving of most cuts, cooked and trimmed, has less than 200 calories. Veal is fairly tender, although some cuts have quite a lot of connective tissue. Bone-in cuts are similar to beef cuts, but smaller; they're usually called chops rather than steaks. Boneless slices are called cutlets.

Butchers typically use most of the veal shoulder and leg for cutlets and scaloppine. They cut the loin and rib sections into chops and cutlets. Irregular pieces from any of these parts may be cubed and sold as veal stew. Although harder to find, boned veal roasts from the leg and shoulder are also good sources of lean meat.

Boneless veal stew. To use this meat in ways other than braising, look for cubes that are uniformly 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick, with little tough connective tissue showing. To cut strips for stir-frying, partially freeze the cubes, then slice across the grain, discarding connective tissue. For scaloppine, trim cubes, then pound in same direction as grain (see page 97).

Shopping for pork

In the past, most pork leg and shoulder meat was cured and most of the loin sold fresh. That's still true, but more fresh boneless leg is being offered today; meat dealers often cut and package it as boneless slices, strips, or cubes for skewers.

Hogs are usually marketed when five to six months old. There's little variation in the meat's quality, so USDA grades are not used for retail cuts. The loin is the tenderest section, but cuts from the leg are almost as tender.

The leanest cuts come from the leg and loin. When you want boneless meat for several different meals, a center-cut loin roast is a good choice; it's sold in most markets, and you can often save by boning it yourself. Although not always available, the tenderloin and boneless leg are also good sources of lean meat.

Center-cut pork loin. Buy it bone-in or already boned. Usually the whole center cut is divided into two roasts, each weighing 3 to 5 pounds with bone. For either roast, ask your meatman to remove the chine bone. For pork chops, simply cut between ribs. From a boned roast, you might use part of the meat as a miniroast; the remaining meat can be cut in slices, strips, or cubes.

Shopping for lamb

Lamb is defined as meat from an animal less than a year old; six to nine months is the typical age.

The vast majority of America's lambs are raised in the West. Today's breeds grow to nearly twice the size of lambs produced in other countries and have more lean meat in proportion to bone mass and fat. The meat of American lamb is firmer and a little subtler in flavor.

The term "spring lamb' has no real significance, as the supply is constant. In California, lambing season is October and November; the young animals are raised over winter, when pastures are green. In areas where pasture grasses stay green in summer, lambs are born in spring.

The USDA's grading program for lamb has been modified in recent years to conform to the leaner animals being produced. About 90 percent of lamb sold in retail stores is graded Choice.

Lamb's fat is mostly on the outside of pieces and in layers between muscles; how well the fat is trimmed before cooking and how the meat is prepared chiefly determine cooked lamb's calorie count. The range for a 3-ounce serving of cooked, trimmed lamb is from about 155 calories for leg roasts to 235 calories for some braised chops. The leg is the best source of lean meat.

Individual cuts of American lamb are all larger than they were in the past. A full-cut leg, which includes the sirloin, often weighs 8 to 10 pounds--too large for most families. Typically, butchers now sell the sirloin portion separately; what's left is called a 3/4 (or short-cut) leg. Or they may divide the leg three ways into a sirloin portion, shank portion, and center roasts.

Leg roasts. A full-cut leg is especially versatile ann can provide lean meat for up to six different meals. Ask the meatman to bone it for you. You might have the shank removed first; simmered with beans or vegetables, it makes a small meal. Follow directions on opposite page to divide the balance of the leg for different meals.

Imported lamb cuts, smaller than their domestic counterparts, are often sold frozen. If you want to use a frozen leg for several meals, ask your meat delaer to saw it so you can thaw just the part you need. You might have 2 or 3 steaks cut from the large end, have the shank removed, and leave the center section whole to roast.

Keeping meat safe and labels honest

All meat-processing plants in this country operate under government surveillance. Federal requirements are meant to ensure that meat will not contain harmful residues of drugs; animals also undergo pre- and post-slaughter inspections.

Still, some question the use of any drugs in livestock. About four out of five food animals are given some drugs during their lifetimes--to stimulate growth, to help them utilize their feed more efficiently, and to treat disease. In general, fewer drugs are used now than in the past. The synthetic hormone DES, once widely used to promote growth, has been banned because of evidence that it causes cancer.

A few markets are selling meats labeled "natural.' As the term is defined--meaning any product that has no artificial color, flavor, or other ingredients and is not more than minimally processed--all fresh meat is natural, and the appearance of this word is no guarantee it is drug-free. But it has recently been given a little more meaning; labels marked "natural' must now explain the use of the term.

A few market animals are being raised today without drugs, and the USDA has approved labels that make specific claims about how the animals were raised. Some typical claims are "raised without the use of antibiotics or hormones' or "fed grain grown without the use of pesticides.' Anyone using such phrases on a label must have records to verify them.

Labels such as "lite,' "lean,' and "low-fat' have also been redefined. Any meat product called "extra-lean' may have no more than 5 percent fat by weight; a "lean' or "low-fat' product may have no more than 10 percent fat. A product may be called "light,' "lite,' "leaner,' or "lower fat' if it has at least 25 percent less fat than most comparable products; the label must state its fat content versus that of the standard product.

Meats labeled ground beef or hamburger may have no more than 30 percent fat and must be pure beef--all from skeletal muscles (no variety meats). But they may have added seasonings if declared on the label. If called ground chuck or ground round, meat must be entirely from those cuts and may contain no more than 30 percent fat. Any product that makes a claim about fat content must state the percentage of fat it contains.

How cooking affects meat

What makes meat tender or tough? Juicy or dry? Flavorful or bland? The answers lie in the structure of muscles and connective tissues (such as tendons and gristle) and how they respond to cooking.

Muscles consist of long, thin fibers held together in bundles by connective tissue.

In young animals, the muscles are thin; later, they become thicker and tougher. But younger animals often have a higher ratio of connective tissue to muscle. In any animal, muscles that are used least are most tender. Usually, muscles along the back get the least action, while those in the shoulder and legs get the most.

When cutting meat, you can often remove tendons and gristle along with fat. Meats that appear coarse-grained have thicker muscles and often lots of connective tissue laced through them. Fine-grained meats have thinner muscles, with less connective tissue, and are usually more tender. Within many cuts, such as chuck blade, you'll find both coarse- and fine-grained meat.

The most direct ways to tenderize meats are physical. Slicing it thinly across muscle fibers makes it easier to chew. Pounding meat slices, scoring the surface, and putting slices through a mechanical tenderizer are all ways to break down fibers; grinding breaks them down even more, and also changes texture.

When preparing less tender cuts, determine the direction in which muscle fibers run and slice perpendicular to it. This is critical in cutting strips for stir-frying and slices for scaloppine, as well as for slicing roasts and thick steaks. Marinades containing wine, vinegar, or citrus juice also soften muscle fibers but work only on the surface. We use them to add flavor, not to tenderize.

The flavor of cooked meats is influenced by the age of the animal, what it was fed, and how the meat was stored after slaughter. Within muscles and surrounding them, even when not visible, are fat deposits. These melt during cooking, lubricating fibers and making meat seem more tender and flavorful. Our recipes use light sauces with lean meats to help compensate for the lack of fatty juices.

Changes that take place during cooking also result in characteristic flavors. High temperatures that give a brown crust to the meat's surface concentrate flavor there. As meat cooks, its color also changes predictably, so color can be a gauge of doneness. As the meat's internal temperature rises from about 130| to 170|, the fibers shorten and bond together in solid masses, squeezing out liquid from within the cells. At 170|, most of the juices have been exuded. Lean meats, especially, are more tender and juicy when served rare.

We've been told for years that pork must be well cooked to kill any trichinae parasite. But, when roasted to the 160| or 170| recommended in the past, today's lean pork is tough and tasteless. The parasite is actually destroyed at 137|; it's safe to cook pork to an internal temperature of 150| (use a meat thermometer).

Connective tissue breaks down most effectively at temperatures close to the boiling point of water, and in liquid. When meat has a lot of connective tissue, it needs to simmer until both muscle fibers and connective tissue begin to disintegrate --as with our braising method.

Lean meat techniques

For tenderness, you can use these six cooking methods. Marinades and sauces will add flavor

1. Kebab cubes: bright vegetables add color, texture

Buy meat already cubed, or cut cubes from any fairly tender cut of meat.

For 4 servings, you need 1 pound boneless lean meat (see chart, page 97); a marinade (choices follow); 8 tiny onions (each about 1-in. diameter), boiled until tender, or 1 small onion, cut into about 1-inch squares (optional); and 2 medium-size yellow, green, or red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into about 1-inch squares (optional).

Cut meat into 1- to 1 1/4-inch cubes. In a bowl, combine meat cubes and marinade; stir to coat evenly. Cover and chill, stirring occasionally, 1 hour or until the next day.

Lift meat from marinade; reserve marinade. Thread 1/4 of the cubes alternately with onions and pepper pieces onto each of 4 skewers; push ingredients close together.

Lay skewers on a rack in a 12- by 15-inch broiler pan and broil 4 inches from heat. Or lay on a barbecue grill 4 to 6 inches above a solid bed of hot coals (you can hold your hand at grill level for only 2 to 3 seconds). Or place on grill of a gas or electric barbecue over high heat, preheated as manufacturer directs.

Turn skewers every 2 to 3 minutes to brown all sides; if desired, brush skewers with marinade on each turn. For medium-rare meat, cook 8 to 12 minutes total (cut to test; pork will still be slightly pink). Makes 4 servings.

Fajita marinade. In a bowl, mix 2 tablespoons lime juice; 1/4 cup water; 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced; 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin; and 1 teaspoon ground coriander.

Lemon-soy marinade. In a bowl, mix 3 tablespoons soy sauce; 1/4 cup lemon juice; 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced; and 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger (or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger).

Orange-anise marinade. In a bowl, mix 2 tablespoons thawed frozen orange juice concentrate, 1/3 cup dry red wine, and 1/2 teaspoon ainse seed (crushed) or fennel seed (finely chopped).

2. London broil: cook rare for succulent slices

Thick, boneless steaks are broiled or barbecued to rare, then sliced cross-grain into thin strips. Serve hot or chilled.

For 4 servings, you need about 1 pound boneless beef steak or lamb bottom sirloin (see chart, page 97) cut 1 to 2 inches thick and a marinade (choose fajita, lemon-soy, or orange-anise, below left).

To cut a London broil steak from a large roast, such as round tip, take a 1- to 2-inch-thick slice from its widest end.

Put meat in an 8- to 9-inch-wide baking dish and pour marinade over meat; turn meat to coat. Cover and chill 1 hour or until the next day. (Or omit marinating and brush cooking steaks with marinade.)

To barbecue, surround an 8- to 9-inch drip pan with 60 ash-covered ignited charcoal briquets. Add 12 more briquets to coals. Set grill 5 to 6 inches above firegrate; place meat on grill over drip pan.

For rare steaks, cook and turn until well browned on each side. Allow about 20 minutes for 1-inch-thick steaks, about 35 minutes for 1 1/2-inch steaks, about 45 minutes for 2-inch steaks (120| on a meat thermometer inserted in thickest part).

To broil, place meat on a rack over an 8- to 9-inch-wide pan. Broil meats up to 1 1/2 inches thick 4 inches from heat until browned on top, 7 to 10 minutes; turn and broil until browned on other side but still rare in center (cut to test), 7 to 10 minutes longer. Broil meats 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick about 6 inches from heat until a meat thermometer inserted into center registers 120| for rare, 10 to 14 minutes per side.

To serve, cut thin, slanting slices of meat across the grain. Makes 4 servings.

3. Mini-roasts: just right for small meals

Lean meats are moist and tender when roasted just to rare--less than an hour for these 3/4- to 1 1/2-pound cuts. Roasting to the internal temperature specified is very important; just a few degrees can make an immense difference in taste and texture. Be sure to use an accurate meat thermometer. Check temperature often: degrees increase by the minute. Choose a cut that's compact and not more than about 3 inches thick.

You need a 3/4- to 1 1/2-pound roast (see chart, page 97) and a glaze (two choices follow).

Some cuts are compact; if not, use clean cord to tie meat in an evenly thick shape. Thick roasts take longer to cook than slender pieces of the same weight.

Spread glaze evenly over roast. Place meat on a rack over a foil-lined 8- to 9-inch-wide pan or 12- by 15-inch broiling pan.

Roast beef or lamb in a 425| oven until a thermometer inserted in thickest part registers 135| for rare, 25 to 45 minutes. After 25 minutes, check temperature every 5 to 10 minutes.

Cook pork in a 350| oven until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 150| (slightly pink in center), 35 to 55 minutes. After 25 minutes, check temperature every 5 to 10 minutes.

To serve, slice meat thinly across the grain. Makes 3 to 6 servings.

Honey-pepper glaze. In a bowl, mix 2 tablespoons honey and 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper.

Chutney glaze. In a bowl, stir until evenly mixed 2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped chutney.

4. Braised cubes: no flouring, no frying, more flavor

Using a technique called "sweating,' you can brown meat and onions with very little fat. You can do this step a day ahead. Next day, reheat the tender meat cubes and serve with rice or vegetables. Or turn them into a quick stew, a curry, a soup, or chili con carne (recipes on page 176).

For 4 servings, you need 1 pound boneless lean meat (see chart, page 97); 2 mediumsize onions, thinly sliced; 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced; 1/2 cup water; 1 tablespoon salad oil; and 1 to 4 cups regular-strength chicken or beef broth.

Buy meat cut for stew, or cut boneless meat into 3/4- to 1-inch cubes; trim off and discard any fat.

In a 5- to 6-quart pan with a tight-fitting lid, combine meat, onions, garlic, water, and oil. Cover pan and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes (add more water if it cooks away).

Uncover pan; stir often over medium-high heat until liquid almost cooks away. Reduce heat to medium; stir until juices evaporate and brown (the meat browns very little). This step takes 15 to 45 minutes total, depending upon meat and how you regulate heat. Add 1 cup of the broth; stir to free browned bits in pan.

Simmer, covered, until meat is very tender when pierced, 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. Add broth, if needed, to keep about 1/2 inch of liquid in pan. (If made ahead, cool, cover, and refrigerate up to 3 days. Reheat meat, adding broth if needed.)

Serve hot as is, or use in one of the recipes on page 176. Makes 4 servings.

5. Stir-fry strips: quick, useful for almost any cut

Because you cut the strips thinly and across the grain, even the less tender cuts can be used for stir-frying. Vary cooking sauces and presentation to turn simple meat strips into a variety of dishes.

For 2 servings, you need 8 ounces boneless lean meat (see chart on facing page), 1 to 2 teaspoons salad oil, and seasoning sauce (choices at right). To increase servings, double ingredients; cook half the meat at a time, using half the oil. Cook full amount of vegetables or fruit at once.

To cut the meat strips from a large piece, such as a roast, first slice it with the grain into pieces about 1 inch thick.

Then slice meat across the grain into 1/16- to 1/8-inch-thick strips (for easiest slicing, freeze meat until firm but not solid). Discard any fat or tough connective tissue.

Place work or 10- to 12-inch frying pan over high heat until a few drops of water sizzle and dance on surface. Add oil, rotating pan to coat bottom. When oil is hot, add meat to pan and cook, stirring, until meat changes color outside but is still pink inside, 1 to 2 minutes. Put meat in a bowl.

Add seasoning sauce to pan and stir, scraping browned bits free from pan, until sauce boils and thickens. Stir in meat, and serve in any of the ways suggested, following. Makes 2 servings.

Barbecued stir-fried strips. For seasoning sauce, mix 1/3 cup regular-strength beef broth; 1 tablespoon each red wine vinegar, Worcestershire, and firmly packed brown sugar; 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed; 1 teaspoon cornstarch; and 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard.

Serving suggestions: Serve over toasted buns with lettuce, tomatoes, and onions. Or serve over crisp salad greens or hot pasta.

Ginger-sherry stir-fried strips. For seasoning sauce, stir together 1/4 cup each dry sherry and regular-strength beef broth; 1 tablespoon soy sauce; 1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger; 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed; 1 teaspoon cornstarch; and 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon crushed dried hot red chilies.

Stir-fry meat strips as directed. After removing cooked meat from pan, add to pan 1 small yellow or red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch slices; cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add sauce to pan; cook as directed (preceding); add meat. Remove from heat; stir in 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions.

Serving suggestions: Serve with hot rice or on a bed of finely shredded napa cabbage.

Rosemary-pear stir-fried strips. For seasoning sauce, mix 1/2 cup canned pear nectar, 2 to 3 teaspoons white wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary (or 1/2 teaspoon dry rosemary), 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper, and 3/4 teaspoon cornstarch.

Stir-fry meat strips as directed. Remove from pan and add 1/4 cup firmly packed chopped bacon; stir over medium heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Lift bacon from pan, drain on paper towels, and reserve; discard all but 1/2 teaspoon fat. Stem 1 large firm-ripe pear; cut into 1/4-inch wedges. Return pan to high heat; when hot add pear; stir until tender when pierced, 2 to 3 minutes. Return bacon to pan, add sauce, and cook as directed at left; add meat.

Serving suggestions: Serve on a bed of lightly cooked sliced mustard greens or kale. Or serve with rice.

6. Scaloppine: pound for tenderness, quicker cooking

Purchase meats cut for scaloppine, or cut and pound meat to make the thin slices yourself.

For every 2 servings, you need 8 ounces boneless lean meat (see chart at right), 1 to 2 teaspoons salad oil, a savory sauce (choices follow), and salt and pepper.

Slice meat across the grain into slices about 1/2 inch thick. (Large roasts are easier to slice if first cut in half lengthwise, with the grain.)

Place slices between sheets of plastic wrap and pound firmly and evenly with a flatsurfaced mallet until slices are 1/8 to 1/16 inch thick.

Brush about 1 teaspoon of the oil in a 10-to 12-inch frying pan and place over high heat until a drop of water sizzles and hops around in the pan. Arrange as many meat slices in pan as you can fit without crowding. Cook just until meat changes color around edges, 10 to 15 seconds.

With a wide spatula, turn slices over. Cook just until meat changes color on bottom, 10 to 15 seconds longer. Remove meat from pan and arrange on serving plate; keep warm. (Meat should be slightly pink in center: cut to test.) Repeat until all meat is cooked, brushing pan with oil as needed to prevent sticking.

Remove pan from heat. Pour sauce (choices follow) into pan and scrape to release browned bits. Return pan to heat; bring sauce to boiling and pour over meat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 2 servings.

Mustard-tarragon sauce. In a bowl, mix 1/3 cup regular-strength beef broth, 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch, and 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon (or 1/4 teaspoon dry tarragon).

Thyme sauce. In a bowl, mix 1/3 cup regular-strength chicken broth, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme leaves), and 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch.

Wine-blue cheese sauce. In a bowl, mix 1/3 cup regular-strength beef broth, 2 tablespoons dry red wine, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, and 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire. Pour heated sauce over meat, then sprinkle with 1 to 2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese.

Tapenade-tomato sauce. In a bowl, mix 1/2 tablespoon chopped canned anchovies or 1 teaspoon anchovy paste; 1/4 cup chopped pitted black ripe olives; 1 tablespoon drained capers; 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced; 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard; and 1 small ripe tomato, peeled, cored, and chopped (about 2/3 cup).

Table: What cooking techniques can you use for each cut of meat?

Photo: A whole beef round, when trimmed of surface fat, yields some of the leanest cuts to be found in the meat market

Photo: Packages of lean meat already cut for scaloppine, stir-frying, or shish kebabs are convenient for quick, low-calorie meals

Photo: Thin-pounded slices of pork tenderloin cook in less than a minute in hot fry pan

Photo: Serve quick-cooking pork scaloppine with mustard-tarragon sauce (see page 97 for recipe); this 3-ounce serving has fewer than 200 calories, including the sauce

Photo: He's cutting out tender "eye' muscle from thick chuck blade. First he removed flatiron from atop blade bone

Photo: BEEF: Five economicallean cuts . . . and how to use them

Chuck blade. Eye muscle (A) and flatiron (B) are tenderest. Turn boned pieces on side and slice across grain (shown by arrow) for thin steaks, stir-fry strips or scaloppine; or cut into cubes. What remains (C) is best braised

Chuck 7-bone. Top blade (A) and mock tender (B) are tenderest. Cut these and parts of (C) with least connective tissue cross-grain into thin slices or strips. It's best to braise the remainder

Chuck boneless shoulder. Untie roast. For London broil, cut think slice off widest end. Use most compact part for roast or to slice. Cut remaining meat into strips or cubes; braise parts with most connective tissue

Full-cut round steak. Top round (A) is tenderest; use for London broil, cubes. Cut slices or strips from (A) or less tender eye (B), slanting slices to cross meat's grain. Bottom round (C) is best braised

Triangle tip (bottom sirloin). Slice off wide end at an angle directly across grain and cut steaks or slices at same angle; cut irregularly shaped ends into strips to stir-fry. Or grill whole, like London broil

Photo: Grilled rare, then sliced cross-grain, any thick steak can be tender and juicy. For directions, see London broil recipe on page 95

Photo: Sprinkled with green onions, pork strips and red bell peppers cook quickly in ginger-sherry sauce. For more on versatile stir-fry technique, see page 96

Photo: PORK: Leanest cuts come from leg and loin. You can cut up a loin roast into several meals

Center-cut pork loin is usually cut and sold as two roasts. Shoulder-end roast (forward of knife) is a little easier to bone. Leg-end roast includes part of tenderloin

On leg-end roast, remove tenderloin, a boneless strip of meat inside rib cage. Then cut away ribs. At base of ribs, work knife down to vertebrae to free meat

On shoulder-end roast, work close to bones, cutting ribs away from the meat

Photo: Mini-roast of lean lamb leg cooks in less than an hour, gets crusty brown with honey-pepper glaze (page 95)

Photo: Skewered lamb cubes grilled with peppers and onions make an easy but festive entree. Choose one of three zesty marinades (page 94)

Photo: LAMB: Today's cuts are lager as well as leaner. You can subdivide

To take apart a boned leg, turn cut side up; remove muscles intact, pulling meat apart along natural seams (use a knife to free meat from connective tissue, fat, skin). Muscles correspond to beef round. Remove top round (A), then eye (B), heel (C), end of tenderloin (D), end of flank (E), top sirloin (F), bottom sirloin (G). Bottom round (H) extends under (C), (F), and (G).

Use top round (A) or top sirloin (F) for small roast or cutlets. Trim bottom sirloin (G) evenly thick to grill like London broil. Cut remaining pieces for shish kebabs, stir-fry strips, scaloppine, braising

Photo: Mediterranean ragout boasts cubed meat braised to tenderness in flavorful sauce with herbs, olives, artichokes. This and other recipes for braised meat are on page 176

Photo: Barbecue beef sandwich uses stir-fried strips; they glisten with light, lively barbecue sauce added last. Try the same method with other kinds of meat
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Title Annotation:includes related articles, and recipes
Date:Nov 1, 1987
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