Today on Fresh Air: America’s Test Kitchen shares some of their shopping/cooking tips for meat.
Listen to the interview (and find recipes for the perfect burger, buttermilk mashed potatoes, and oven-friend bacon) here:
• Don’t put much stock in “pasture-raised” or “free-range” Some companies really are letting animal graze outside but access to the outdoor can be highly limited)
• “Natural” is pretty meaningless (means no artificial ingredients); look for USDA “organic” seal instead Companies must comply with long list of regulations and inspections—animals not given antibiotics or hormones, feed produced without pesticides and or synthetic fertilizers.
• Don’t buy enhanced pork. It’s injected with salt solution and preservatives.
• Don’t buy select beef. You want choice or prime meat because it has more fat and more flavor.
• Buy air-chilled chicken rather than water-chilled, unless you like bland chicken and you like paying for water.
• Never buy 99% lean ground chicken or turkey with no fat. There’s no flavor, and the meat is really, really dry. Go for 93%, which is made from mix of white and dark meat.
• Avoid mechanically tenderized meat It’s not tender and there’s a higher risk of bacteria contamination.
• Don’t put much stock in “no nitrates added” label on bacon. These products are often cured with celery juice (sometimes listed as natural flavor) and celery juice has high level of nitrates, which are converted to problematic nitrites by the bacterial starter culture in the cure. In our tests, some “no nitrates” bacon had more nitrites than conventional brands.
• Don’t buy stew meat. Instead buy a shoulder or chuck roast and cut up the meat yourself.
• Buy Berkshire pork whenever you can. Meat has higher pH which makes it darker, firmer and more flavorful. We found juicier and more porky than regular pork. Higher pH is because of genetics and farming practices—stressed pigs produce a lot of lactic acid which lowers the pH.