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Cooking Meat 101: Low or High Heat?

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  • Tip Bones

Ever wonder why you cook bacon quickly on high heat, but if you try to do it to a beef roast, you get a block of shoe leather? Knowing how long and at what temperature to cook different cuts of meat is essential to any home cook's skill set. It's the difference between a tasty or downright inedible meal!

Typically, you want to follow the 'hot and fast' or 'low and slow' rules. There are exceptions, but the basic rule of thumb is this: for especially thin or lean meats, cook it hot and fast. For meat thats thick cut or high in fat, you can often cook it lower and slower. Now that's not to say that you should crank up your grill to the max or barely turn on the oven, but it's a good place to start.

The fat in thicker meats will melt over a longer time, leaving a tender and pull apart texture. Not to mention, cooking low and slow in an oven or other contained space traps water, allowing the meat to retain more moisture. When you cook hot and fast on a lean, thin cut of meat, you may find that it becomes crisper on the outside, and more rare on the inside (though it should be cooked to an appropriate internal temperature). Marinades are good for helping steaks and pork chops stay tender, even if you sear them on the outside.

Have some patience, grab a meat thermometer, and experiment with different methods!