10 Restaurant Secrets to Creating an Incredible Meal


Respect the Meat

To keep the juices in, don't cut or poke the meat.
To keep the juices in, don't cut or poke the meat.
Jamie Grill/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

Chefs at Morton's Steak House recommend that you purchase beef that carries a USDA quality grade of "prime" if you can find it or "choice" if prime isn't available. Prime beef comes from young, well-fed cattle and has more marbling -- the threads of fat that lace through the meat to add flavor and tenderness -- than other grades of beef. Most of the extremely small percentage of beef that earns a prime grade is sold in restaurants or hotels. Choice graded beef is still tender and flavorful, and it costs less than prime beef. "Select" beef is leaner and drier than the higher grades. Most select cuts should be marinated or cooked in moist heat.

Another tip from Morton's: never stab your meat. Piercing the meat with a fork or meat thermometer gives all the juices in the cut a place to drain out, leaving you with a dry entrée. Whether you're cooking beef, pork, chicken, fish or hot dogs, use a spatula or tongs to handle meat, and only turn each piece one time during the cooking process.

If you can't cut into the meat, how can you tell when it's done? Use the Morton's palm test. This doesn't mean holding your palm over the meat to feel the heat; it refers to comparing the firmness of the meat when you poke it with a finger to the firmness of different areas of your palm. Rare steak should have the unresisting spongy feel of the thumb area. A medium steak should spring back when touched like the middle of your palm. Well-done meat will feel firm like the area of your pinky finger.