USDA prime, choice, good, standard, commercial and utility in descending order. Most meats sold in retail stores are choice. As you shop for meat, look for marbling (tiny spots of fat). Aging can provide tenderness and flavor.

Meat should be stored properly right after purchase. Fresh meat should be used in 2-3 days. Ground meat used within one day. For 1-2 days prepackaged meat can be stored as is. Non packaged meat should be stored loosely wrapped in waxed paper, plastic or foil. This allows air to dry surface and retard bacteria growth. Cool cooked meats quickly. Cover and store in refrigerator. Meat to be frozen should be done just after purchase.

The six methods for cooking meat: roast, broil, pan broil, fry, braise and cooking in liquid. The best method depends on the tenderness, size, and thickness.

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Cajun Country -- New Iberia, Louisiana