The key to knowing how to cook beef is knowing the cut of beef you’re working with.
Each cut has its own characteristics and needs to be cooked a certain way to get the best results.
There are just a few rules to follow:
For example, steaks can be cooked quickly at a high heat to get tender, juicy results. Stewing beef, on the other hand, needs to braised or stewed, where the low, wet heat will break down the tougher collagen fibres, and keep the meat moist. There are lots of different ways of cooking beef. But they all boil down to two main types of cooking: dry heat, and wet heat.
When you cook using a dry heat, (braaing, grilling, panfrying or roasting) a few different things happen. First of all, the surface of your beef forms a delicious, flavourful crust.
The second thing that happens is that the beef loses some of its moisture. It evaporates from the surface first, and then the moisture from the inside moves outward. This gives the meat a more concentrated flavour. Dry heat is best for steaks such as fillet, rump or sirloin.
When you cook with a wet heat, your beef loses less moisture. It still loses some, but the cooking juices make up for it. This lets you cook your beef longer, which can really help out a tougher cut.
Braising and stewing are great examples of wet heat cooking. Wet Heat cooking can produce meat with fantastic flavour, such as brisket or short ribs.