Aged beef, stored three to six weeks at 34 to 38
degrees in low humidity, undergoes an enzyme change that intensifies its flavor,
deepens its color and softens the connective tissue. The longer meat is aged,
the more quickly it cooks. Vacuum-packing meat via a method with a vapor- and
moisture-proof film enables aging to take place between the slaughterhouse and
the dinner table.
Marbling, the flecks of fat distributed
throughout the lean part of the meat, gives beef its flavor and juiciness.
Grades, in order of marbling, are prime, choice and select, with select the
leanest and the toughest.
The lean part of the meat should be cherry-red,
unless it has been cured or cured and smoked. Beef, vacuum-packaged cuts
included, is a dark, purplish-red color when first cut.
At the market, choose steaks and roasts with a
fat covering of &1/8 inch or less, or trim the extra fat to &1/8 inch.
Tenderize lean cuts by cooking slowly with moist heat, cooking in liquid or
To prepare beef without adding fat, try roasting,
broiling, pan-broiling, grilling or microwaving.