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Meat
Meat is the basis for many meals as we all know. Your basic meats are beef, pork and chicken. Then from there Louisiana folks have the wild game such as venison, duck, goose, frog legs, turtle, alligator, raccoon and  squirrel. If you're not from here I'm sure a few of these wouldn't be on your list of main courses, but us South La. Cooks most certainly will. Frog legs, turtle and alligator are in the seafood section.

Bar-B-Qs, pot roasting, smothering, casseroles, sauce piqaunts, sausages and dressings are some of the favorite cooking methods in south Louisiana. 

Here's a few meat facts.....

Beef

Beef is USDA graded as follows (from best downward): Prime, Choice and Select. (Remember PCS). Choice and Select are normally found in your local grocery. Prime is sometimes found in specialty meat markets but usually reserved for restaurants. There are lower grades but you'll not usually find them in your grocery! Un-graded meat is also available and many stores carry it. Is it a good grade? Most probably so, but, you must know that up front so you can modify the way you cook it to compensate for the lower quality!

USDA also says....There are four basic major (primal) cuts into which beef is separated: chuck, loin, rib, and round. It is recommended that packages of fresh beef purchased in the supermarket be labeled with the primal cut as well as the product, such as "chuck roast" or "round steak." This helps consumers know what type of heat is best for cooking the product. Generally, chuck and round are less tender and require moist heat such as braising; loin and rib can be cooked by dry heat methods such as broiling or grilling.

Unfortunately, names for various cuts can vary regionally in stores, causing confusion over the choice of cooking method. For example, a boneless top loin steak is variously called: strip steak, Kansas City Steak, N.Y. strip steak, hotel cut strip steak, ambassador steak, or club sirloin steak.

The later two paragraphs courtesy of the USDA web site. Read more there.

When purchasing beef look for a "sell by" date on the package. Remember though, it's not mandatory for the grocery to have the date on the package. To be safe you should cook or freeze the meat within 3 -5 days after the "sell by" date to assure it's highest quality.

Old myth: you can't re-freeze meat after it has been thawed. The truth: If it has been thawed in the ice box (refrigerator) and has NEVER reached a temperature ABOVE 40F you can re-freeze it. 

Think about it! How many freezers have gone out (that means "quit working") and the contents, meat, beef, pork or whatever, never reached a temperature above 40F, yet, all was thrown away! Check this out!

Pork

Pork is pig and pig is hog! Much of a hog is cured and made into ham, bacon and sausage. Uncured pork meat is called "fresh pork." Pork found in supermarkets generally has no grade, but, if it's been inspected by the USDA it's called "Acceptable" and will be labeled, "Passed and Inspected by USDA". One way or the other I would think you're getting good meat. 

Now here in South Louisiana the word cracklins make people do a 180 and head for the source. They move even faster if the cracklins are HOT (heat, not pepper). To have the best cracklins at your store around here is something of great pride! Cracklins are 1 " X 1" X 1" (in general) pieces of pork belly or back (with a little meat on it) and are similar to pork skins you buy in the grocery but only only 3,000 times better!

Salt MeatWe also have what we call "Salt Meat", a-k-a salt pork or pickled pork. It's a salted pork leg. We can buy this in single packs or as a loin as shown here. Cajuns use salt meat to cook beans and other vegetables. It's a staple to us similar to ham hocks. Read More

The refrigeration rules for pork are no different than beef, 40F is the key temperature.

Here's a link to the National Pork Board

Chicken

Fryer, capon, Cornish hen, roaster hen and rooster are all varieties of chicken also known as poultry. Each has great dishes associated to them and as a rule are less fatty than beef. Chicken is not normally graded but when it is, it's usually "Grade A, B & C". As with other meats, keep chicken below 40F when handling. Chicken should be kept frozen at 0F. When thawing either do it in the refrigerator or in water, never left out in the open air. USDA site info.. We can't forget eggs here and of course the same rules apply with the exception of freezing. According to the USDA we consumed 71 billion eggs in 2000. 

Sausage

Sausages are made from all sorts of meats are are usually either smoked, fresh or dried. Handling sausage is no different in that you should observe the same refrigeration and freezing rules as the meats above. Smoked sausage is normally already fully cooked and can be eaten "as is". Fresh sausage must be cooked. Sausages are not graded. Deer (venison) sausage is very popular here and is made mostly by the home cook and is often a big event with friends. Of course you can make your own sausage at home using pork, beef or a mixture of both. Making sausage is fun especially if you have kids and want to teach them a little about where foods come from and how they are made. Another form of sausage here in Louisiana is Boudin' (BOO-DAN - N is silent but pronounce the "A" as in DAN). The ingredients include a filler such as rice. In reality it's rice dressing packed in sausage casing, but, it's not that simple! Here in Lafayette, LA. just about every corner grocery and every meat market  has there own "special recipe"  boudin'. It's just about an ongoing contest.

Here is the USDA site information on sausages....

Other meats mentioned in the beginning of this page should be handled in a similar manner. Ducks, geese, deer, coon and the others are prized possessions in many a household and demand a family gathering when they're cooked!

On to Cooking Meat...

Cook me something mister......

 

On to Cooking Meat

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