A Good Piece of Meat
I joke often that I cannot be trusted with a good piece of meat—I’ll surely ruin it somehow. I have had some successes, but many more pieces of dried out, stringy meat (you name it—chicken, beef, pork, etc.). I can do a great turkey, but even there I’ve had some disappointments.
One problem in particular stands out: how to seal the moisture into the meat when cooking on top of the stove. I always brown meat before simmering, but I’m still not satisfied with chicken breasts or even chicken tenders. I wouldn’t dare try steak or pork chops.
(By the way, I’m a VERY experienced cook — read: OLD — and my family tells me my meals are fabulous. I raised my family on hamburger and other low budget fare that did well in a pressure cooker. I do know how to coat chicken in corn flakes and bake it. But I want to do better and more consistently!)
What a great question. In the following links, you can learn more than I'll write here. Apparently, I was deluded into thinking that cooking atop the stove, usually in liquid, automatically leads to moist meat. However, after researching your question, I learned that meat does not absorb moisture; instead, moisture leaks out. The steam from braising or other moist-heat cooking methods actually further dries out meat because of the high temperature.
To keep meat moist, cooks must use fat. A piece of meat with a side of fat on it will stay moist when cooking atop the stove. The fat melts in the steam, running down over the meat, and thus locking in moisture. The fat should always be set on top of the meat (or cook with the fat side up). If the cut of meat is lean, you can add a bit of fat from the butcher to the top of it. Alternatively, saving the trimmings from the cuts of meat you purchase, and freezing them, will ensure you always have a piece of fat to melt over your meat.
Moist Poultry Secrets
Meat Cooking Techniques
Hope this helps,
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