Help for a lifelong vegetarian learning to cook meat....(14 Posts)
My whole family are vegetarian (religious reasons), so I've never cooked/eaten meat, but my dh is a meat eater and we've agreed to raise any dc's as meat eaters.
I'm pregnant with our first and realising I have no idea how to cook meat! I don't know how to choose it, prepare it, cook it, or know whether it's done/still raw. I'm also squeamish about touching it, although don't mind using utensils to chop/stir etc. plus as I can't eat the finished product, I don't know how to tell whether it's nice or not.
Any advice on some easy recipes, or book recommendations for a complete novice?
The easiest thing to start with is beef, as it will generally not matter if it is slightly undercooked.
A rump steak (well hung) can be fried in an already hot pan for different times depending on whether your dh likes rare, medium rare or well done. There is a way to tell its different stages in terms if firmness by comparing it to the firmness of the heel of your thumb touching your index finger (rare), middle finger (medium rare) or fourth finger (well done).
Mince will turn brown when fried off. If cooking with other things like chopped carrots, parsnips or potato it will generally be cooked when they are.
Then move on to Lamb.
Pork needs to be cooked through but bacon is, like steaks, a personal thing. I like mine still slightly chewy, and other people like theirs crisp.
For anything else, read a recipe book. We have a "Good Housekeeping" Cookbook (about 2 inches thick) which my 16 yr old DD refers to as "the bible" as it tells you almost everything you need to know, with a great selection of "everyday" recipes.
Also, remember that if it is underdone when you cut in to it, pop it back in the oven. Your DH will be your best guide as he is used to eating meat.
Thank you 4merly, that's really helpful!
Mince sounds like a good starting point, I like that the colour will change.
I use latex gloves for preparing meat as I don't like the feel of it. I also have the "bible" it's great for referencing despite it being 20 years old!
Also, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's 'Meat' book will tell you more than you could possibly want to know about meat, its production and preparation
Ah latex gloves are a good tip! I feel very squeamish about actually touching it, but my dh would be so happy (and shocked) if I could learn to make him a steak.
Those two books are in my Amazon basket....
Mince looks cooked, when it's done and for Bolognese and Shepherd's pie you boil it in tomatoes or stock, so it's definitely cooked.
Chopped chicken breasts for stirfry and curry is easy, because again they look cooked whe you break open a chunk, and can be bubbled in curry sauce to be sure. Most toddlers like mild curry, they all like mince.
However, I know lots of happy health veggie DCs so please don't get hung up on always feeding your DC (or DP) meat. Make sure they share eating and cooking meals you enjoy too.
Turkey, lamb, beef and chicken mince change colour when cooked. I think mince would be your best bet. As the individual pieces are smaller they will cook through easier.
Have you considered fish? A good test of being cooked is if you push if with a fork it should slide into flakes if that makes sense.
If you plan on cooking pieces of meat - chops and steaks (beef, lamb or pork) you need to pierce them once cooked to see the juices run clear. Lamb and beef are not such a problem. It will also go firmer. If in doubt cut in half and look at the middle. It should be the same colour as the outside roughly. I used to do this with sausages for the kids too as I always had problems getting this right.
For roasting joints of meat I swear by a basic book. I have a Mary Berry one (before she was a celeb cook) that say xxx mins per pound and xx mins on top.
I dont think you should worry too much about letting your kids have meat (unless it is something you feel strongly about). My neice was veggie for the first 16 years (mum and dad still are and have been for 35 yrs) but she will eat minced beef and chicken if it takes her fancy. 35 yrs ago there was little veggie food available unless you scratch cooked and when sis fell pregnant she was told by the MW it would be cruel to bring children up veggie!
Once you start touching meat, you will soon get used to it. Pork with skin on, is just the same as touching your own arm (only colder). Fresh meat will not be slimy. Squidging your hands through mince (to make burgers) is actually rather nice, and probably a good way to get used to it.
I hate touching raw meat too, disposable gloves make it much better.
I used to be veggie till a couple of years ago. I started with roast chicken - easiest bloody thing to cook, just cut the strings off and bung it in the oven - times are often displayed on the packaging. Took me ages to get steak right and often it's not the cooking it's the steak! Beef mince smelled so disgusting cooking I really had to force myself to eat it, still think it ruins the taste of pasta sauce! To be I was cooking the meat to a safe temp without over cooking it I bought a brilliant thermometer - called a thermapen, they use them in commercial kitchen so the accuracy is fantastic.
Thank you all, these are really useful tips!
I think I will still mainly cook veggie meals, so that I don't have to make multiple meals, but I do feel life would be easier for dcs as meat eaters. Catering/options for veggies have improved massively since I was young (and the only school option for me was chips and beans - had it every school day for 7 years, couldn't stand baked beans for years afterwards!) but there are still places/countries where it's very hard as a veggie, including the country my dh comes from and we'd like to be able to spend a lot of time there.
Hi shallan, I was a lifelong veggie but kept becoming ill with anaemia (I was eating iron rich alternatives but for some reason my body didn't seem to be absorbing them very well). I am so squemish about meat so I started with bacon because it doesn't look or smell like meat (or at least my idea of meat), it's so easy to cook and it's obvious when it's done. I quickly stick it in a sandwich when done . It was actually mnet that gave me that advise. Could you start with something similar and maybe work your way up to muce, steak etc? Also ham is easy - no cooking, just throw it in a sandwich!
(Btw not saying anyone else should be worried about anaemia - I know loads of healthy veggies, I must just be prone to it).
Shallan, I was the veggie, dh the meat eater. We decided that given I was doing most of the cooking we'd stay veggie at home - dh loves anything I cook, but then he'd eat meat at lunchtime or when we ate out. The dcs were veggie till around 3 years old and then we started giving them meat while out. They were happy with that situation too....dh would occasionally cook a steak a home but not often. Dcs didn't grow up thinking they were veggie, they chose to eat meat at school dinners, they just ate veggie at home. We're a bit food obsessed in our house so the focus was on the food tasting good rather than whether it was veggie or not!
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