During the summer, I could live on the bounty from my garden, however, I married a carnivore and so I am buying meat year-round.
Our deep freezer has designated shelves for each protein, beef, chicken, pork, and fish, which are beginning to look bare.
I am relieved things are slowly getting back to normal, with a few states in the US considering reopening their economies.
There may well be a tiny flicker of light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully, you may be able to visit your favorite restaurant to eat.
For example, if you’re a steak lover and you live anywhere in and around Oklahoma City, the Cattlemen’s Steakhouse still accepts online orders from its award-winning steak menu.
If your local restaurants are still closed or your region is still firmly on lockdown, you can mail order proteins from companies I use such as Perdue Family Farms or ButcherBox.
Please note that I may earn a small commission from purchases made through product links in this post. .
However, if you prefer to shop for your proteins at the supermarket or a local butcher, here are a few things to look for when buying meat.
Your senses are a great tool that you can use to determine how good meat is, and the smell is one of them.
Meat definitely has an odor to it, but that is not always a bad thing.
It is a problem, however, when it smells pungent or like rotten flesh.
That means the meat is not good enough to consume and so you shouldn’t purchase it.
Another way to sense whether meat is good or bad is by looking at it.
Poultry meat is supposed to have a pink color and not gray, green, or purple.
Lamb should have a pink to red color with white fatty areas.
Beef should be a bright cherry color except when it is sealed in a bag, and then it should look purplish.
But once exposed to air it should get back to normal.
Pork also has a pinkish-red color with white areas of fat and no dark spots.
Generally, try to choose meat that does not have a pale color.
3. The surface of the meat
Meat is made up of fiber which can tell whether it’s tender or tough.
Examine the surface of the meat for the grains of these fibers.
Very obvious grains means the meat is tough but full of flavor and so you’ll need to cook under slow heat.
The opposite, that is, little to no visible grains means the meat will be soft or tender when cooked.
How the meat feels to your touch also goes a long way to tell how good it is.
Beef, for example, should have tightly packed and uniform fibers to make it firm.
Poultry meat like chicken should also be firm and dry.
Your meat shouldn’t be slimy or sticky to touch or look like it will fall apart.
That tells you that it is probably not the best to consume.
5. The “Sell-By” date
The ‘sell-by’ or ‘best before’ dates are better determinants of the quality of the meat than the safety.
They tell you when the product has maximum freshness, after which the consumer decides to consume or not.
It will give you a pretty good idea of what to expect with the meat in general.
If you’re just buying to keep for later, choose the one with the latest’ best before’ date so that you don’t run the risk of using spoiled meat for cooking.
Here is a simple weeknight meal recipe. Sirloin steaks are an inexpensive beef cut.
Skillet Sirloin Tips and Gravy
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 red onion chopped
- 1 lb sirloin steaks cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
- 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 Tablespoons your favorite sweet barbecue sauce
- 1 Tablespoon heavy cream
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- Heat 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.
- Cook onion and a pinch of salt, until slightly softened and lightly browned (about 5 minutes). Remove from skillet; set aside.
- Pat steak cubes dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat the remaining oil in an empty skillet till very hot. Cook steak until browned on all sides and cooked to desired doneness, 6 - 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
- Add browned onions back into the pan, along with the broth, and add barbecue sauce. Simmer over medium-low heat. Gently whisk until slightly thickened (about 5 minutes).
- Add cream, and season with salt and pepper. Stir for another minute.
- Spoon sauce over steak tips and serve.