The characteristics of a good quality meat can lead to nothing quite like a nice bit of juicy, tender meat once cooked to perfection. The succulence of the flesh, coupled with the way it can fall apart and take on the flavours of marinades, spice, and herbs make meat so incredibly versatile and brilliant to cook with.
From the supreme decadence of a perfectly cooked steak, to flavoursome, charcoaled, bite-sized morsels of skewered meat, the variety of ways that cultures around the planet have devised to cook and enjoy meat is as varied as it is delicious.
However when it comes to cooking anything, you’ll always get better results when you’re using quality ingredients. If you’re not used to cooking or buying fresh ingredients then it can be difficult to know what meat is “good”. Well not, to worry. Hunter & Barrel are here to show you how to make sure that you’re choosing the most beautiful, richest, highest-quality meat cuts every time
Throughout this blog we will explain our approach to finding characteristics of a good quality meat:
- High Quality Butcher, Characteristics of A Good Quality Meat
- How To Check The Characteristics Of A Good Quality Meat
- The More Obvious Characteristics Of A Good Quality Meat
- Rich, Quality Meat At Hunter & Barrel
High Quality Butcher,Characteristics Of A Good Quality Meat
The first thing to consider when buying meat is where you’re buying it from. Most people buy from supermarkets and there’s nothing wrong with that. They generally offer the most economical options, and during a time when prices are continuously on the rise, we could all use a little economy.
However, when you buy from a supermarket, you’re rarely getting what you’re promised. Although supermarkets make grand claims of freshness, it’s actually more than likely that the meat you’re buying has been sitting in a cool room for days, weeks, even months. What’s more, it’s likely it’s been treated via carbon monoxide injection to give it that pink colour that we associate with freshness.
So how can we be sure that the meat we’re getting is the best?
Step 1 – Find A Butcher That Knows The Characteristics Of A Good Quality Meat
This can take a little research, as there is likely more than one butcher in your area. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Although most butchers function on the same basic business model, everyone runs their business differently. The most important thing to look at is quality control, and even small butchers will offer vastly superior meat to supermarket supplies. Likely at better prices too. Not only that, but supermarket butchers often cut corners in order to maximise profits. A butcher is better as there is more emphasis on quality and selection.
Step 2 – Buy Locally
The simplest step to getting fresh meat is to find a reputable butcher in your area. Butchers function very differently to supermarkets. Supermarket meat is pre-butchered, packaged, and transported via cold truck. Butchers get carcasses delivered to them and butcher it on premises. The freshest meat comes straight off the bone. This will ensure quality too, as meat stays fresher the longer it is kept part of the animal. Not to mention supporting a local butcher means supporting a local farm, from an ethical and agricultural perspective.
Step 3 – Know Your Cuts Of Meat
Depending on what part of the animal you’re cooking with, you will get a very different taste and texture in the final dish. Some cuts are good for grilling, others good for stewing. Some meat needs to be pounded out, others need to be delicately slow-cooked. If you don’t know what parts of meat to cook in what dishes don’t worry! Few are as passionate about the culinary use of meat as butchers, and they will gladly advise you. Most recipes usually have recommendations for the type of meat to be used.
How To Check The Characteristics Of A Good Quality Meat
While there is a lot to look for when looking for the best quality meat, it’s really not all that difficult a process. Everything you need to know can be found with your eyes and nose, is simple to understand, and even simpler to identify. Let’s get into the meat of things:
One of the easiest to recognise characteristics of a good quality meat supplier or cut is the scent. If the butcher you’re walking into doesn’t have a general scent of fresh meat (slightly bloody or metallic) then it’s probably not a great indicator. If the smell is unpleasant to you, don’t worry, it is to most people – even seasoned meat lovers. What you want to beware of is the scent of rot or decay. This is a deeply pungent odour that is often sour and attacks the nostrils. However if you can smell something like copper or iron in the air of your butcher, then that’s likely a sign that they are inundated with only the freshest meats.
When it comes to the characteristics of a good quality meat. Red meat such as beef likely isn’t as pink or bright red as you might find it in the shops. It’s actually more likely to be darker, with shades of purple, burgundy, or even brown to be the signs of fresh, healthy meat that’s been exposed to oxygen. If meat is bright red, that’s a sign that it’s been chemically treated.
Pork undergoes similar colour variation, becoming a light pink shade when exposed to oxygen. Game meats such as duck turn brown, while poultry such as chicken can range from blueish white, to even yellow! You only really need to be concerned if meat has evidence of growth on it.
Be particularly vigilant with minced meat. This meat has been handled and has more surface area exposed to oxygen. Again, the only visual indicator of non-freshness is evidence of mould growth.
How does marbling affect the quality of meat? Marbling refers to flecks and striations of intramuscular white fat that runs through meat. Marbling means that the meat’s muscle content is more broken up by the fat, creating a juicier, more tender cut of meat. It is so named because the effect of the fat gives the meat the appearance of marble.
Contrary to popular belief, meat should not be slimy. Wet, yes, after all it’s flesh. But beyond this healthy level of moisture, meat should be firm and dry. If meat is soft and has a slimy residue, do not cook it, it’s evidence of decomposition.
The More Obvious Characteristics Of A Good Quality Meat
The following are characteristics of a good quality meat, though they aren’t necessarily related to the meat in and of itself. They’re more signifiers that you’re purchasing from a quality supplier.
Look at how the meat is cut. Are there pieces of jagged flesh hanging off the bone? Does the meat look like it’s been, for the lack of a better term, butchered? Butchering meat properly is an art and a study in and of itself. You want to look for evidence of expertise through the cleanliness of the cuts. If the meat looks hacked up to within an inch of its shelf-life then it’s likely that not everyone behind the scenes is the expert they claim to be.
Checking the sell and use-by dates is also extremely important. If you have trouble recognising the visual signs listed above, then you can always default to the date on the packaging. However if you see evidence of rot on meat labelled as good to be sold, put the product down, turn, and run. Run far. Run fast. Run to Hunter & Barrel. Rest assured, we only serve fresh, delicious and high quality meat. Curious? have a look at Hunter & Barrel’s Menu for our wide range of quality meat.
When it comes to inspecting packaging, make sure there’s no evidence of damage or dirt. If there is, it means that the packaging was likely dropped or handled by dirty hands. If that’s what they do to packaged meat, what might have happened to it before it was packaged?
Finally, if the fridge or freezer isn’t cold, or if there’s evidence of mechanical dysfunction (dripping, blinking lights, etc) it’s likely not a good idea to buy meat out of that particular storage space. Notify the butcher that their equipment is on the blink and look for another cut from another fridge.
Rich, Quality Meat At Hunter & Barrel
Since our inception, Hunter & Barrel has been a proud supplier of only the finest, high-quality meats. Our expert chefs provide beautiful, fresh meals, all prepared with the richest & most succulent characteristics of a good quality meat can provide. Whether you’re enjoying a tender steak or gorgeous skewered meat, Hunter & Barrel is guaranteed to blow your mind every time.