Who doesn't love to eat meat? In many countries and culture. It is very popular because of its availability, the number of dishes you can do with it and of course the taste. In many celebrations or feasts, it can be the star. Turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas, Lechon (whole roasted pig) in fiestas in the Philippines.
Today, meat is very much accessible because of the ways we have developed to store them. This is done either through refrigeration. For an ordinary household in the old days, meat was expensive and less accessible because it was harder to extend the life of the meat
The process in which we modify the meat to extend its shelf life and taste is called meat processing. Some of the methods of processing meat are: salting, curing, fermenting and smoking.
All time favorites
Almost everyone loves to eat or has tasted processed meat at least once in their lifetime. Some of the most popular out there are ham, salami, spam and chorizo among others.
We too have our own processed meat and it is everywhere. It is a regular on breakfast meals of fast food joints, karinderya to all day breakfast restaurants and even on the menu of casual dining and of course to almost every home.
Some of the techniques we learned ourselves and some we acquired during the colonial period.
Longganisa. This is our version of the sausage. Depending on where you are in the Philippines the taste will vary, from sweet, to spicy to garlicky. The variation is as rich as the culture. Have it using pork, beef, chicken, with skin (intestine casing) or without, you will love it with rice!
Tocino. The taste of tocino is sweet. I have never encountered tocino that does not taste sweet, just varying in sweetness. It is straightforward, meat that is in cured, no casings just different cuts and types of meat.
Tapa. Always great with fried rice. Actually all of them are great with fried rice and egg. Traditionally made with thinly slices of beef, it is the cornerstone meal of some of the popular restaurants out there which is a testament to its popularity.
Ways To Process Meat
Before refrigeration, people extend the life of meat through the removal of moisture. Moisture promotes the growth of bacteria, fungi and other organisms which help increase meat decomposition.
Sun Drying. You might be familiar with dried fish sold in the market, such as, yes you guessed it, Tuyo! A more scientific term is dehydration. Usually, salt is added to further increase the dehydration since water absorbs moisture.
Salting. Because of the properties of salt, it is mostly present in all the processes of meat processing. I guess the simplest way of processing meat. We do salting using brine, which is water and high amounts of salt or just by putting high amounts of salt on the meat before storage.
Religious customs such as those observed by the Jews and Muslims, where blood must be removed from freshly slaughtered meat also utilizes salt to help with the process.
Fermentation. Unlike salting or curing, fermentation promotes the growth of certain organisms or bacteria. Like the process of bread making, which yeast produces carbon dioxide in the leavening. In meat fermentation bacteria such as lactic acid bacteria are used. Oil such as olive oil are used to replace the fat which holds moisture. Some of the popular fermented meat products are salami and chorizo.
Another method of preserving food is through smoking. Smoking not only removes moisture but also add flavor to the meat through the fuel used to make the fire which produces smoke. Wood such as oak, apple or uncooked rice or even tea. Some of the popular smoked products are traditional hams and tinapa.
Harmful Effects of Processed Meat
As we enter to the modern age, the demand for food has increased. Processed meat still has its place in the modern world however modern techniques has modified and at times replaced the old to meet the demand.
We have heard about processed food and in this case processed meat being harmful, but what does it make it harmful for the body?
You might heard of "salitre" or curing salt. It has received a bad reputation over the years because of its harmful effect to the body. There are different types of curing salts. The most popularis the pink curing salt. This not only help extend the shelf life of the meat but it also enhance the color. It is composed of 6.25% sodium nitrate and 93.75% table salt.
Nitrite is the one that gives the salt its pinkings color and when mixed with myoglobin it can produce a reddish color which to most is pleasing to the eyes. Nitrite does not sound safe. Actually it is not an organic compound. It is being identified as a carcinogen which may cause cancer.
What can we do?
Nowadays we cannot be too careful on the food that we eat. We have to be certain on where the ingredients came from and how it was made.
That sounds like making it ourselves? You might think that would be difficult because you do not have the tools to do it...
Have no fear, Chef RV is here! Chef RV is an accomplished Chef and author of several cookbooks. He came up with this class as an answer to a challenge from his students who are moms who needs an easy recipe to cook for their kids. It's not just easy to prepare but healthier as well.
He has put all the knowledge in making processed meat in his online class and more! Not only you get to learn how to do longganisa, tocino and tapa but you will learn how to make the most delicious seafood roll with sweet and sour sauce, vinegar dip to go with your processed meat and the talk of the town pickled vegetable or "atsara"!
Watch the video below for the preview:
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Just look at the reviews made by our students who took this class:
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