Here’s the scoop on beef cuts
When you look around the beef section of the grocery store, you may be amazed to see the many different cuts of meat. Maybe you’ve always bought the same pieces and want to try something different, but don’t know what to choose.
Let’s start with the basics: There are four main, or prime, cuts of beef, according to the USDA: chuck, loin, rib and round. These sales are divided into sub-sales and then finally into retail sales, which you find in a grocery store.
There are specific properties, uses and recommended cooking methods for each cut. We’ll take a look at the basic cuts: ground beef, steak, oven-roasted and pot-roasted, and prepared cuts like kebabs, braised meats, and stir-fried meat.
Ground beef is beef that has been cut into small pieces using a meat grinder. It is made up of several pieces, such as the chuck, rib, and side. Sometimes minced meat is taken from the dish, but it is fatty. Ground beef varies in fat-to-fat ratios. It contains no more than 30 percent fat and is always at least 70 percent fat.
Ground beef that is 70 percent fat is ideal for burgers, taco meat, and spaghetti sauce because it is moist and juicy. It’s best to use ground beef that’s 80-85 percent fat in your meatloaf and meatballs because even though it’s a little firmer, it’s still moist and juicy. 93% lean beef doesn’t have a lot of fat to drain, so it’s well suited to meat sauces, casseroles, and stuffed peppers.
Cooking methods: grilling (dry heat), grilling (moist heat)
Steak is a cut of meat usually taken from the back of a cow.
a lot of Tender steaks It comes from the center cuts (rib and loin). The middle of the cow is used for hanging and doesn’t get a lot of movement, so the meat from it is generally tender. The two types of tenderloin steaks are premium tenderloin steaks and family-priced tenderloin steaks.
Premium tender steaks Includes Top Loin, T-Bone, Porterhouse, Rib-Eye, Rib, and Tenderloin.
Tender steaks at family pricessuch as top sirloin, top blade of chuck, eye of chuck, and round tip, are more affordable.
Cooking method: Dry heat cooking methods, such as roasting, grilling, grilling, or pan cooking.
Less tender steaks They come from the front (chuck) and back (ring) of the cow. These parts are used for movement, so the meat is firmer than the middle of the cow. Some less tender steaks include whole round, top round, eye round, and bottom round cuts.
Cooking method: These cuts can be prepared with moist heat because they are not as tender as the center cuts.
Cubed steak It is another type of steak. This cut usually comes from the round, so it is stiffer.
Cooking method: Moist heat or pan cooking (dry heat)
Some steaks are considered lean, while others are not. For more information, see Beef, That’s What Fits the Interactive Butcher’s Table for Dinner.
Roast and ribs
A roast is a cut of beef that is two or more inches thick. Roast beef comes from several different cuts, usually the front and back of the cow, although some comes from the center cuts.
Oven roasting They are categorized as premium oven roasters or family priced oven roasters.
Deluxe oven roasting Includes cuts such as rib, rib eye, and tenderloin. It’s more expensive than family-priced oven roasters.
Oven roasting at family prices They are more affordable, plus they are smaller in size than premium oven roasters. Some popular family-priced oven roasts are tri-tip, round tip, rump, bottom round, and eye round.
Cooking method: On oven rack in a shallow pan or in a covered grill (dry heat)
Pot roast It comes from the front and back, so it’s less tender than roasting in the oven. The chuck roast is more flavorful because it contains more fat than the round. Brisket is used in barbecue as well.
Cuts of chuck that are great for pot roasting include the Bone-in and Bone-in Chuck Arm Pot Roast, the Bone-In Chuck Pot Roast, the 7-Blade Chuck Pot Roast, and the Boneless Chuck Shoulder Pot Roast. A bone-in pot roast, boneless chuck roast, bone-in top blade roast, and bone-in chuck eye roast may also be used in a pot roast, but they are not common.
Cuts of the round that can be used for pot roasts include rump round roasts, bottom round roasts, eye round roasts, and round roasts.
Boneless cuts of brisket are sold fresh or canned. Brisket cuts include whole brisket, half point/point cut, half point/flat cut, and center cut.
Beef chuck (chuck, arm or shoulder roast) and round cuts (boneless rump roast, bottom round roast) work well with pot roasts.
Cooking Method: Preparing a pot roast means you use moist heat. It may take longer, but the result will be tender and juicy meat.
Beef for Kabobs It is usually from the sirloin or round, but can be taken from any cut other than the leg. Cut into 1 to 1.5 inch thick pieces. The kebab meat from the round will need to be tender. Meat from more tender cuts will not need to be tenderized.
Cooking method: Grilling or stir-frying (dry heat)
Stew meat It is taken from any cut except the stem, but usually comes from the chuck or round. Cook boneless meat and cut into ¾- or ½-inch cubes.
Cooking method: braising or roasting (moist heat)
Frying, or fillets, are cuts taken from lean cuts of beef such as sirloin, top sirloin, tri-tip, rib-eye, top sirloin, or tenderloin. Steaks, top round and round steaks are not very tender, but can be suitable for stir-frying as well.
Cooking method: frying (dry heat)
the shank It is the leg of the animal. It’s juicy but tough, so it’s often used as a stock for soups and stews.
Cooking method: searing (moist heat)
Sources: USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, Iowa Beef Industry Council, Beef Board, Certified Angus Beef, Beef, That’s What’s for Dinner
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