The oven is a good partner-in-crime for cooking many recipes. Advanced functions save time and money, getting the best results simultaneously. Yet, the chef is still the king. If you don’t use the oven more often to cook meat because you think the meat is going to be dry, come with us through this brief route and learn our know-how for juicy meat cuts and tasty, tender steaks, those ones you can almost cut without a knife.
1. Meat to room temperature
There are different opinions about cooking meat at room temperature. We are totally pro-room temperature. First, the meat retains its juices better this way. Also, coming straight from the refrigerator to the oven means a huge change in temperature, and that also means that characteristics like taste can change too. The texture improves if you just keep the meat at room temperature for about 30 minutes. By the way, if you defrost your steak in the refrigerator under certain conditions, it will absorb flavours from other pieces of food.
You can also let the meat come to room temperature in the oven. There are even some ovens with this kind of function, using a very low and constant temperature until the cut is ready to cook.
2. Preheat the oven
Do not try to cook meat in a cold oven. There are many reasons not to do it. For instance, it is easy to miscalculate the recipe time when you try to cook in an oven with a lower temperature than what you can read in the recipe. Also, heat means causing a chain of chemical reactions in the food. If there are some changes about it, like there is no sudden rise in the temperature, food may cook differently.
When we talk about meat, you have probably heard about the Maillard reaction. It is a process where sugars and proteins interact when they reach a certain temperature. It is a complex process, though, and the meat changes colour as a result, looking more and more mouthwatering. This caramelization process happens when we cook meat. If we haven’t got enough heat to make it possible, we block this process.
Besides that, when we let meat heat at the same time as the oven does, the juices and water evaporate, making the meat dryer.
3. Different oven temperatures for different meat cuts and weights
You can totally control the temperature with the oven, and that’s a great advantage. If you have a modern oven, you probably have preset functions to choose the best combination of the type of meat, weight and temperature for a better cooking experience. You just need to press the button and the oven does the rest. For a professional grilling result, some ovens can even reach 700 °C. If it is not your case, know your oven to choose the best options, but take a look from time to time or the meat will dry easily.
4. Sear the meat before cooking it in the oven
This may change for the cut meat but, usually, searing the meat before putting it in the oven will help to keep the juices inside. If you are cooking a big piece of meat like roast beef or similar with sauce, make sure you pour some sauce in while cooking it to keep it juicy. Marinating meat is also a good way to retain fluids.
5. Do not cut your meat right away
When you need to serve the meat, don’t forget to let it rest for five to ten minutes. The juices will set, the meat will rest, and then it’s time to slice. This simple action will keep the flavour and aroma. It is not a good idea to poke it or slice it while the meat is in the oven, or it will dry out.
The best way to check if all these tips are working is to practice. Cook and experiment with different ways to cook with your oven. Try how to get the most out of it. The main goal here is that you enjoy cooking the recipe and the final result. It doesn’t matter if it is just for you or for a big family meal but taste the process as much as the plate from the very first moment you put the apron on.