We spoke to a meat scientist and this is the key to perfectly cooked beef every time

All the different cuts of beef, the ways to cook it, and the variety of ingredients to pair it with delicious opportunities to make something amazing for dinner.

If there’s anyone who knows a thing or two about how to cook awesome beef, it’s Dr. Jennifer Aalhus, a meat scientist who has dedicated more than 35 years to the study of the biochemistry of meat and its production, processing and preparation.

Narcity Canada chatted with Dr. Aalhus to find out what you can do to make any beef dish salivate-worthy.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Aalhus says, “When it comes to taste, humans like fat…a tastier and more satisfying experience is likely to result from eating higher fat beef (aka marbled).

Fats are complex – large areas of science attempt to understand how they affect nutritional and culinary aspects. Recently retired, Dr. Aalhus has spent much of her career directing and reporting on meat quality research at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Meat Research Center in Lacombe, Alberta, as as Senior Meat Scientist.

His findings have helped provide expertise for cooking guidelines for groups like Canada Beef so they can share the best way to cook beef at home for a consistently delicious experience.

Her research led her to believe that if you want beef that’s full of flavor and super juicy, watch out for the marbling in the meat.

“Fat plays an important role in the tenderness, juiciness, and flavor of cooked beef. In addition, fat can play a buffering role in maintaining quality characteristics when cooking at higher doneness levels above above average.”

Although Canadian beef grades are assigned based on a variety of factors related to the tenderness, juiciness and flavor of the meat, Dr. Aalhus explains that one of the main determinants of these grades is the amount of marbled fat. in muscle.

“It is this fat that melts during cooking, forming channels between muscle fibers, contributing to a greater perception of tenderness when biting and chewing.”

Blind studies have also shown that most Canadians prefer the taste of beef with more marbled fat.

@edward-jenner | Pexels

“Additionally, fat in muscle can lubricate muscle fibers during cooking, stimulating salivary flow during chewing, which increases the perception of juiciness,” says Dr. Aalhus.

It also gives three other key factors that contribute to enjoyable beef: the cut, the cooking method and the final degree of doneness of your beef.

For example, a lean cut like a tenderloin doesn’t have a lot of connective tissue, so grilling it might be a great option. This is a high-temperature, short-time cooking method.

At other times (eg, in a stew), beef with high connective tissue must be cooked for an extended period with moisture included, such as in braising, simmering, or poaching.

While how you cook depends on these cutting factors, cooking method, and final degree of doneness, fat marbling seems to be important no matter what or how you serve it.

Dr. Aalhus explains that marbled fat acts as a buffer for the hardening of muscle fibers that occurs when you increase the final temperature of your meat. Basically, if you like your steak well-done without it being super chewy, you’ll want to look for a cut with more marbling.

Besides the fascinating impact of fats on the flavor of beef, Dr. Aalhus thinks the most remarkable result she found in her research is just how complex the development of flavor compounds really is.

“To date, our laboratory extraction methods have identified more than 100 compounds that contribute to beef flavor, but understanding their formation during cooking and their sensory threshold during consumption is still the subject of active research. .”

For example, everyone perceives flavor differently. The number, type, or activation of taste receptors on your tongue, smell receptors in your nose, and even past strange or comforting associations with different smells can affect how a steak tastes to you.

“Not everyone likes the same flavors, and we individually like what we like!” says Dr. Aalhus.

@nate_dumlao | Unsplash

Since working so hard to study the factors that affect beef quality and providing scientific expertise, Dr. Aalhustruly values ​​the knowledge and hard work of everyone who helps bring beef to Canadian tables.

She says, “Bringing the best beef to the table combines both culinary art and science, and I’m very proud to have been part of that.

If you’re looking to experiment with cooking beef, you can explore more than 70 cuts, with information on how to cook each, plus recipe videos, on the Canadian Beef Information Gateway – and see how the Dr. Aalhus’ work is being put to good use.

It’s time to plan a feast that your friends will be delighted with.

For more beef, check out the Canada Beef website or follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube.