short cooking time) is much more tender than a well-done steak (where water evaporation is much
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More about culinary ingredients: Meat
Meat contains water (about 75%), proteins (about 20 %) and fats (normally only around 3%). In a
piece of raw meat, however, the arrangement of these substances is much more highly organised than
in for example a raw egg white (which just contains a simple unstructured mixture of proteins and
Its contents are essentially organised into three different sorts of tissue.
· The muscle tissue: This is the main tissue, and is composed of many muscle cells, or fibres,
containing the muscle proteins actin and myosin. These muscle proteins and fibres are
responsible for how an animal moves when it’s alive, and how tough the meat is to eat once
when the animal is dead. As an animal grows and exercises, the muscle tissues strengthen
and become thicker – meat from an older animal is tougher than meat from a younger animal.
· The blood: The muscle tissue also contains blood vessels that contain the pigments
responsible for the colour of meat. The main pigment (comprising 75% of the total pigment
content) is called myoglobin, which contains a central iron atom attached to a large protein. In
the presence of oxygen, the iron atom “holds” the oxygen molecule and appears bright red.
The more a muscle is used, the more of this pigment it will need, so the redder the muscle will
be, so the parts of the animal that uses its muscles a large amount (eg the legs) will be darker
in colour and tougher (contrast chicken breast with leg, and how tender the appropriately
named “tenderloin” is).
Not all meat is red. Some animals are made of “white meat”, such as chickens and poultry. This is
simply because their muscles arranged in a different way to “red meats”, and their myoglobin levels
are lower, giving them a lighter colour. This is because poultry, which tend to move in short rapid
bursts, have different muscle requirements to a large cow, which must support his body weight all day,
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