Meathead Talks: Basic Meat Science For Cooks
Welcome to Meathead Talks, a series of curated articles from AmazingRibs on everything from kitchen science to myth busting to tips for upping your grill game. All articles are written by the Meathead, a brilliant chef and self-proclaimed Barbecue Whisperer whose culinary word are heeded as gospel in many circles.
This edition of Meathead Talks starts at the very beginning: Basic Meat Science. If you ever cook meat, you need to read this article. Why? Because understanding the ins and outs of meat (and really any ingredient) will improve your cooking and preparation of the meat you cook.
Let's take a look at what you will learn in this article.
- How to answer the question "What is meat?" (which is surprisingly hard to unpack)
- A breakdown of meat's muscle cells
- An overview of meat's connective tissue (and what cooking methods make the meat tough vs. tender)
- The skinny on fats (spoiler alert: this is where the flavor and texture come from)
- Fluids - the liquid components of meat (this is very important to understand for dry aged meats as the process of dry aging removes "fluids" from the meat)
- Different types of muscle fibers
- The meat rainbow: a review of meat colors in cooking
- Why cooking with a thermometer is superior to time-based cooking (plus a really handy temperature guide!)
- A primer on spoilage
- The various ailments of cooked meat (from meat boogers to color changes and odors)
In summary, if you cook meat, and especially if you use dry aging bags to dry age your meat, we recommend this article. Knowing your meat science will surely make you a better cook.
Article originally posted on Meathead's Amazing Ribs, last updated 5/21/2022
Meathead - Founder and publisher of AmazingRibs.com, Meathead is known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of the New York Times Best Seller "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.