COOKING TIPS & HOW-TO'S
LOMBARDO'S COOKING CORNER
UNDERSTANDING USDA GRADES OF BEEF
QUALITY GRADE FACTORS
the amount of fat streaking within the cut of meat
of cattle at harvest
of the cut of meat
firmness and tenderness
- highest quality beef grade
- abundant marbling
- harvested from young, well-fed cattle
- often sold in high-end hotels and restaurants
- most tender and flavorful
- contains about 8-13 percent fat
- high quality
- more marbling than USDA Select
- less marbling than USDA Prime
- harvested from younger cattle
- contains about 4-10 percent fat
*Berk Lombardo Only Carries Beef Graded USDA Choice Or Higher.*
- significantly less marbling
- leaner than other grades of beef
- less flavor, tougher texture
- contains about 2-4 percent fat
- easily found in most grocery stores
OTHER GRADES OF BEEF:
Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter, Canner
THE BIG THAW
Safe Defrosting Methods For Consumers
UH, OH! You’re home and forgot to thaw something for dinner. You grab a package of meat or chicken and use hot water to thaw it fast. But is this safe? What if you remembered to take food out of the freezer, but forgot and left the package on the counter all day while you were at work? Neither of these situations is considered safe, and these methods of thawing may lead to foodborne illness. Raw or cooked meat, poultry or egg products, as any perishable foods, must be kept at a safe temperature during “the big thaw.” They are safe indefinitely while frozen. However, as soon as they begin to thaw and become warmer than 40 °F, bacteria that may have been present before freezing can begin to multiply. Perishable foods should never be thawed on the counter, or in hot water and must not be left at room temperature for more than two hours. Even though the center of the package may still be frozen as it thaws on the counter, the outer layer of the food could be in the “Danger Zone,” between 40 and 140 °F — temperatures where bacteria multiply rapidly. When thawing frozen food, it’s best to plan ahead and thaw in the refrigerator where it will remain at a safe, constant temperature — at 40 °F or below. There are three safe ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave.
Planning ahead is the key to this method because of the lengthy time involved. A large frozen item like a turkey requires at least a day (24 hours) for every 5 pounds of weight. Even small amounts of frozen food — such as a pound of ground meat or boneless chicken breasts — require a full day to thaw. When thawing foods in the refrigerator, there are variables to take into account.
Some areas of the appliance may keep food colder than other areas.
Food will take longer to thaw in a refrigerator set at 35 °F than one set at 40 °F.
After thawing in the refrigerator, items such as ground meat, stew meat, poultry, seafood, should remain safe and good quality for an additional day or two before cooking; red meat cuts (such as beef, pork or lamb roasts, chops and steaks) 3 to 5 days. Food thawed in the refrigerator can be refrozen without cooking, although there may be some loss of quality.
COLD WATER THAWING
This method is faster than refrigerator thawing but requires more attention. The food must be in a leak-proof package or plastic bag. If the bag leaks, bacteria from the air or surrounding environment could be introduced into the food. Also, the meat tissue may absorb water, resulting in a watery product.The bag should be submerged in cold tap water, changing the water every 30 minutes so it continues to thaw. Small packages of meat, poultry or seafood — about a pound — may thaw in an hour or less. A 3-to 4-pound package may take 2 to 3 hours. For whole turkeys, estimate about 30 minutes per pound. If thawed completely, the food must be cooked immediately.Foods thawed by the cold water method should be cooked before refreezing.
When thawing food in a microwave, plan to cook it immediately after thawing because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during the thawing process (bringing the food to “Danger Zone” temperatures). Holding partially cooked food is not recommended because any bacteria present wouldn’t have been destroyed and, indeed, the food may have reached optimal temperatures for bacteria to grow.After thawing in the microwave, always cook immediately after, whether microwave cooking, by conventional oven, or grilling.Foods thawed in the microwave should be cooked before refreezing.Also, never thaw foods in a garage, basement, car, dishwasher or plastic garbage bag; out on the kitchen counter, outdoors or on the porch. These methods can leave your foods unsafe to eat.
COOKING WITHOUT THAWING
When there is not enough time to thaw frozen foods, or you’re simply in a hurry, just remember: it is safe to cook foods from the frozen state. The cooking will take approximately 50% longer than the recommended time for fully thawed or fresh meat and poultry.
LOMBARDO'S GRILLING TIPS
We love our steaks and we want you to love them too. The best cut of meat, though, can be ruined, if it is not cooked properly. So, here are some tips to help you out:
Defrost Your Steak in the Refrigerator.
We have instructions on how to do this safely, here in the “How To” section.
Marinate/ Add a Rub to Your Steak.
If you have purchased a pre-mixed rub or marinade, there will be instructions on the container. Of course, the more convenient way is to purchase one of our pre-marinated items (See Creative Food Products).
Let the Steak Sit & Reach Room Temperature.
You want the steak to be at the same temperature throughout. This will ensure that it cooks evenly.
Preheat the Grill and Let it Reach its Highest Temperature.
This will generally be between 400 and 550 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sear Your Steak to Lock in the Juices.
(For thicker steaks) To do this, place the steak on the grill when it is at the highest temperature. Don’t leave it there too long. Two to three minutes per side will generally work best. (When you are grilling thinner steaks, you can cook them completely at the high temperature.)
Lower the Heat or Move the Steak to a Cooler Part of the Grill.
The temperature should be about 350 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Finish the Steak at This Temperature.
Don’t forget to keep an eye on the internal temperature of the steak. Use your meat thermometer to check the temperature (position the probe in the center of the thickest part of the steak and away from any bones) and take the steak off of the grill when it reaches the right temperature for you:
Let the Steak Rest For About 10 Minutes After You Take it off of the Grill.
You do not want to start slicing it when it is still piping hot. Have a glass of wine and relax. Don’t rush your steak!
Slice the Steak Using a Steak Knife.
Ideally, a non-serrated knife is best, but any sharp knife will work. Slice the steak across or against the grain of the meat, not in the same direction as the grain.
If you’ve browsed our site, you’ll often see that all of our products are individually vacuum-sealed and “flash” frozen. But why do we do this? Why is this important?
Well, there are a number of reasons, but the ones that benefit you the most are listed below:
1. TIME/LABOR SAVING
When your food arrives, it can be placed directly into the freezer. There is nothing more that you have to do.
If you order from Berk Lombardo, each item was trimmed to the point of being “ready to cook” before it was packaged, so you can open your delivery and put the items right into the freezer. They’ll be ready to go when you are.
2. PORTION CONTROL/CONVENIENCE
You can take only what you intend to cook out of the freezer. If you just need two steaks tonight, that’s all that you’ll have to grab. Plus, you can accommodate a surprise guest by simply grabbing one more steak. There is no need to defrost that humongous bulk package you bought for savings; you can cook just what you need and maintain the freshness of what you don’t use. Nothing gets wasted.
3. SHELF LIFE
Each item is not just individually wrapped, it is vacuum-sealed. This extends the shelf life of the product. In fact, if kept frozen, your food will remain “fresh” for up to one year from the time that you receive it.
Everybody likes to have their food look appetizing, so our products are placed in a blast freezer within moments of being cut. This freezer operates at 25 degrees BELOW ZERO and will freeze a steak solid within 20 minutes.
This quick freezing not only prevents the growth of any harmful pathogens, but it also preserves the fresh-cut color of the meat. The vacuum sealing then locks that color in and keeps pathogens out. Your food will always look like it was cut the same day that you are cooking it. No more brown chunks of freezer-burned meat.
Because each item is individually vacuum-sealed, you do not have to handle the raw meat when you receive your delivery. This means that you do not have to cut up your meat and have any of the juices covering your countertop, minimizing your exposure to raw meat pathogens and keeping your kitchen clean.
Also, the food can be defrosted in its original packaging. This means that you can move it from the freezer directly to the refrigerator to defrost and not create a mess.
The only time that you have to touch the meat is when you open the package to cook it, and that can be done right at the grill. Just open the package, put the meat on the grill, and discard the package.