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Get to Know Your Beef- What USDA Beef Grades Really Mean

Get to Know Your Beef- What USDA Beef Grades Really Mean

We have finally reached the spring time which means grilling season is back! Here at the Renaissance Beard, we have done lots of articles on how to pick out and cook the perfect steak, but when it comes to steak, in my opinion, you can never know too much.

Beef is graded by the USDA in two ways: quality grades for tenderness, juiciness and flavor; and yield grades for the amount of usable lean meat on the carcass. You see these stickers on your meat every time you go to the store, but from a consumer standpoint, what do beef grades mean?

USDA beef grade

Prime beef is produced from young, well-fed beef cattle. It has abundant marbling (the amount of fat interspersed with lean meat), and is generally sold in restaurants and hotels. Prime roasts and steaks are excellent for dry-heat cooking such as broiling, roasting or grilling.

Choice beef is high quality, but has less marbling than Prime. Choice roasts and steaks from the loin and rib will be very tender, juicy, and flavorful and are suited for dry-heat cooking. Many of the less tender cuts can also be cooked with dry heat if not overcooked. Such cuts will be most tender if braised, roasted or simmered with a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pan.

Select beef is very uniform in quality and normally leaner than the higher grades. It is fairly tender, but, because it has less marbling, it may lack some of the juiciness and flavor of the higher grades. Only the tender cuts should be cooked with dry heat. Other cuts should be marinated before cooking or braised to obtain maximum tenderness and flavor.

Standard and Commercial grades of beef are frequently sold as ungraded or as store brand meat.

Utility, Cutter, and Canner grades of beef are seldom, if ever, sold at retail but are used instead to make ground beef and processed products.

Hopefully better understanding these beef codes will help you buy the best cut of beef you can for the dish you are making.

 

 

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How to Make Corned Beef Brisket Braised in Guinness

How to Make Corned Beef Brisket Braised in Guinness

St. Patrick’s Day is nearly here and, for people of Irish ancestry like myself, that means one thing: Corned beef and cabbage. But have you ever wondered where the dish came from? If you were to travel to Ireland you won’t find corned beef and cabbage on the menu for St. Patrick’s Day. There the cabbage dish is prepared with Irish bacon, a bacon made from curing a cut off the back of the pig that includes the tenderloin. When Irish immigrants reached the United States, they were far too poor to afford the cut of pork needed to make Irish bacon so a substitute had to be found. Corned beef proved to be a suitable substitute and provided the salty cured meat flavor they were looking for.

Corned beef is one of my favorite dishes of all time and it couldn’t be any easier to make. Cooking it in Guinness instead of the more traditional water adds some great extra flavor. Be sure to save the cooking liquid from the corned beef. The liquid can be strained out and used to cook your vegetables. It makes them taste incredible!

The full recipe and video are below.  If you like the video be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great videos! If you like the shirt I am wearing in the video be sure to check out the ALL NEW Renaissance Beard Store and grab one for yourself!

Corned Beef Brisket Braised in Guinness

1 3 1/2 lb raw corned beef brisket

1 onion, cut into large chunks

1 head of garlic, halved

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

2 Tb mixed pickling spice

2 cans of Guinness

Remove the corned beef brisket from its package and thoroughly rinse it under cold water to remove residual brine and packaging fluids. Pat the brisket dry with some paper towels and place it in a large crock. Add in the remaining ingredients and bring everything to a boil on the stove top. Cook it, keeping a close eye on it, until the carbonation has cooked out. If you skip this step the carbonation from the beer will cause it to boil over in your oven, making a huge mess. Next put the lid on and cook in a 300 degree oven for about 4 to 4 1/2 hours. The brisket is done when a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the center of the meat reads 145 degrees. When it’s done, remove it from the cooking liquid and allow the meat to rest for at least 15 minutes. Slice and enjoy with boiled cabbage or on a Reuben!

 

If you have any questions or have anything that you’d like featured in a future post on The Renaissance Beard, don’t hesitate to contact me or leave it in the comments.

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Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Coq Au Vin (Chicken in Red Wine)

Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Coq Au Vin (Chicken in Red Wine)

I know what you are thinking. You took one look at the picture above and thought “Wow, that chicken is a super weird purple-ish black color. Is it supposed to look like that?” And I would have to agree with you. The chicken is a crazy color, but it is a crazy color for the same reason it tastes crazy good. It has literally been infused with red wine! I used the Instant Pot in this video but this recipe can easily be made in a standard pressure cooker. The video and full recipe are below. I hope you enjoy this recipe!

Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Coq Au Vin (Chicken in Red Wine)

2 lbs chicken legs

1 lb cremini or baby portobella mushrooms

1 lb baby carrots

12 oz frozen pearl onions

12 oz bacon, cut into small pieces

1 head of garlic, halved

1 750 mL bottle good red wine

6-8 fresh thyme sprigs

6-8 fresh rosemary sprigs

2 Tb sugar

2 Tb cornstarch

1/4 cup cold water

Salt and Pepper

Olive oil

For the Instant Pot: Set the Instant pot on High Saute and brown off your bacon. When it has rendered its fat and become crispy, remove it from the pot and reserve for later. In the bacon drippings, sear your chicken on all sides until it is brown. Add in the carrots, mushrooms, garlic, herbs, salt, pepper, sugar, and wine. Stir to combine and distribute the seasonings. Put on the lid and set the vent to sealing. Set the Instant Pot on Poultry. When the cooking cycle has finished, release the pressure and strain the meat and vegetables out of the liquid. Put the Instant Pot on High Saute and reduce the cooking liquid to thicken it and mellow the flavor. Combine the cornstarch and cold water to create a slurry. Pour the slurry into the cooking liquid and whisk until the liquid thickens. Add the meat and vegetables back to the thickened liquid. Serve with the bacon sprinkled over the top. Enjoy!

For a standard pressure cooker:  Set the pressure cooker over medium high heat and brown off your bacon. When it has rendered its fat and become crispy, remove it from the pot and reserve for later. In the bacon drippings, sear your chicken on all sides until it is brown. Add in the carrots, mushrooms, garlic, herbs, salt, pepper, sugar, and wine. Stir to combine and distribute the seasonings. Put on the lid and set the vent to sealing. Cook at high heat for 15 minutes. When the cooking has finished, release the pressure and strain the meat and vegetables out of the liquid. Put the pressure cooker over medium high heat and reduce the cooking liquid to thicken it and mellow the flavor. Combine the cornstarch and cold water to create a slurry. Pour the slurry into the cooking liquid and whisk until the liquid thickens. Add the meat and vegetables back to the thickened liquid. Serve with the bacon sprinkled over the top. Enjoy!

If you have any questions or have anything that you’d like featured in a future post on The Renaissance Beard, don’t hesitate to contact me or leave it in the comments.

Be sure to check out The Renaissance Beard Youtube Channel here.

How to Make Sweet and Sour Shrimp

How to Make Sweet and Sour Shrimp

Most everyone loves Chinese takeout, but lets be honest, between the massive amount of extra salt, food dyes, MSG, and fat, it’s not the best thing for you. This recipe is not only better for you but it also maintains the authentic Chinese takeout taste while still being something that you can throw together in just a few minutes. In fact this recipe takes less time to cook than it does to leave the house and grab takeout. The video and full recipe are below. Enjoy!

 

Sweet and Sour Shrimp Stir Fry

1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined, preferably 26-30 count size

1 12 oz package frozen veggies

2 cups shiitake mushrooms, chopped

1 orange, zested and juiced

1 lemon, zested and juiced

2 tsp garlic paste

2 tsp ginger paste

2 tsp chili paste

6 Tb soy sauce

2 Tb ketchup

2 Tb white vinegar

1 Tb brown sugar

1 cup water

2 tsp cornstarch

Veggie oil

Salt and pepper

In a large measuring cup, whisk together the water, orange and lemon zest and juice, garlic, ginger, chili paste, soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, and cornstarch. Set the sauce aside for later. Bring a large wok or skillet to high heat and saute the veggies and mushrooms in vegetable oil until the veggies are tender and the mushrooms are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add in the shrimp and cook until the shrimp are just cooked all the way through. Add in your sauce and bring everything just up to the boil, stirring constantly until the sauce tightens up. Serve immediately with rice or noodles. Enjoy!

If you have any questions or have anything that you’d like featured in a future post on The Renaissance Beard, don’t hesitate to contact me or leave it in the comments.

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How to Make Sausage Rolls with Sharp Cheddar and Caramelized Onions

How to Make Sausage Rolls with Sharp Cheddar and Caramelized Onions

Sausage Rolls, although common in Australia and the UK, are not well known here in the US, but they should be! The simple combination of sausage and puff pastry creates something awesome that is perfect as a party food or for something to make ahead for a great lunch. My recipe takes regular old sausage rolls one step further with the addition of sharp cheddar cheese and caramelized onions. I hope you enjoy! Below is the video and full recipe.

Sausage Rolls with Sharp Cheddar and Caramelized Onions

1 lb ground sweet Italian pork sausage

1 2-count package frozen puff pastry

2 onions, sliced

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1 tsp fresh thyme

4 oz. extra sharp white cheddar

2 Tb Dijon mustard

2 Tb honey

1 egg, beaten

3 Tb Panko bread crumbs

1 Tb sugar

2 Tb olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Saute the onions, sugar, and garlic in the olive oil until the onions have caramelized, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool. While the onions are cooling, mix together the mustard and honey. Combine the sausage, cheddar, bread crumbs, thyme leaves, and cooled onions. Mix using your hands until the ingredients are thoroughly distributed throughout the sausage. Lay out the puff pastry and, with a pastry brush, paint on a layer of honey mustard about an inch and half wide. Form your sausage meat into a shape that resembles a log and lay it on top of the honey mustard layer. Carefully roll the puff pastry up over the sausage and trim the puff pastry so that there is just enough to connect and seal. If you leave too much, the pastry will be too thick to fully cook and will be gummy instead of light and flaky. Apply a layer of egg wash, push the edges together, and lay the rolls seam side down. Cut each roll into quarters and place seam side down on a greased baking sheet. Cut two small vent slits on each roll and paint each roll with the egg wash. Bake at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes or until the rolls are golden and the sausage is cooked through. Enjoy!

 

 

If you have any questions or have anything that you’d like featured in a future post on The Renaissance Beard, don’t hesitate to contact me or leave it in the comments.

Be sure to check out The Renaissance Beard Youtube Channel here.