Proper Storage and Handling Methods
From The National Post Appetizer Blog, Olliffe is a regular contributor. These are the top 10 trends in seen at Olliffe, Purveyor of the Finest Meats.
Canada’s best butchers have spent a lot of time considering how to get the freshest and most tender meat, game and poultry to your plate. Often an under discussed key ingredient to maximize the potential of your local butchers craft is the how to store and handle the meat once you have returned home from shopping.
The best thing you can do to prepare your roast or thick steak is to pat dry, flip over and allow to rest out at room temperature for several minutes or longer depending on weight. Gravity effects meat by pulling the moist blood juices to the bottom of the piece. Turning over your meat while raw allows the blood to become even throughout. Furthermore, if you have a large roast or thick steak in your fridge for more than a day it should be rotated daily. Flipping the meat is paramount with larger joints and letting it breath at room temperature before hitting the heat encourages even cooking.
Vacuum packaging has become a popular way to transport and prolong the life of meats and poultry. At Olliffe we have become more interested in how it affects the taste. Generally, if you plan to freeze anything then vacuum packaging is a good idea, as long as it is placed in your freezer promptly. We find that vacuum packaging red meats with higher fat content (especially loin cuts) results in less tenderness after cooking when compared to the butchershop peach paper and freezer wrap combo. The reason is that the vacuum packaged steak bathes in its blood causing excessive moisture that we find stresses the muscle when cooked at high heat. Leaner cuts such as tenderloin, hangar, flank and even stew can be vacuum packaged without effecting tenderness as long as it is dried and allowed to breath before hitting the heat.
There is a reason your butcher uses peach paper and freezer wrap, it is designed to soak up moisture and allow a small amount of breathing. Interestingly, the new package craze at the big markets is Modified Atmospheric Gas Packaging. We have noticed that this new method allows product to sit around for double the expiry date we normally would consider safe.
Chicken and game birds are always best when air chilled during processing as well as in your fridge. We recommend covering your poultry snugly with waxed paper. When bringing your chicken home it should be so fresh that it has no discernible smell. If you feel that washing may be necessary then take it back to the store. When handling chicken precautions are paramount for you and your family. Always wash your hands, rotate your knives and cutting boards – common sense stuff. But when thawing poultry it must be done entirely in the fridge. When in a hurry place your chicken or parts in a sealed food-safe plastic bag (vacuum packed) and run ice-cold water over the chicken but not submerging. A whole bird can be thawed in this method in less than 40 minutes.