What is your Beef? – Knowing How to Select Your Preferred Cut

 
 
There are a couple of things to look out for when shopping for a great piece of steak. To help you choose the perfect slice for the great meal you have planned, we have put together some useful guidelines for you.
Achieving the Grade
The first thing to look out for is the color of the beef. The meat should be bright red and any fat should be creamy white, and evenly distributed.
The next thing to look for is the grade of the steak. Grading is typically performed by a third party organization or by a government agency and will give you an insight into the quality of the meat. Factors such as the age of the animal and the marbling of the meat, determines the grade of the meat. Beef is graded whole, so you will find some variance in grades of an individual cut. Prime grade beef are premium cuts and this is followed by “choice” and “select”. Lowest rated meats are not generally distributed in retail stores and usually become meat by-products.
Prime grade beef are typically exported overseas or sold to fine dining restaurants and “Choice” and “Select” normally end up on the shelves at the grocery stores. If you have budget constraint, try opting for a less desirable cut of “choice” since it is still superior to “select”. Try it and you will notice the difference. When selecting a piece of steak, determine the marbling by looking at the texture of the meat. Marbling means that there are thin streaks of fat in the steak, which adds more flavors to the piece of steak. Steaks that have thick lines of fat contain a lot of connective tissue, which makes it tougher and less tender. Meat that is free of fat and has no or little marbling, is leaner and often more tender.
Making the Cut
Another important factor to consider is the cut. Different cuts have different qualities and can be broken down into three sections. Starting from the upper back and moving down to the mid-back, you have the “Rib”, the “Short loin” and the “Sirloin”.
The “Rib” contains cuts such as the “Rib Roast”, the “Rib-eye” Steak and the “Back Rib”. Of these three cuts, the “Back Ribs” is the least tender section. The “Short loin” is where the “T-bone”, “Top Loin” Steak, “Tenderloin” and the “Porterhouse” come from; and “Strips” steaks such as the “New York Steak” is cut from the T-bone portion. “The Sirloin” part gives the “Sirloin” Steak and the “Top Sirloin”, and the “Chuck”. “Round” and “Flank” steak that come from these respective areas do tend to be tough cuts of meat. “Tenderloin” is the tenderest part and gives us cuts like “Chateaubriand”, “Filet Mignon” and “Tournedos”. When deciding which cut best suits you, you might want to consider that the “Tenderloin” parts are tenderer but less flavorful. The “Rib-eye”, the “Sirloin” or the “Rib” steak are less tender, but more flavorful.
Grilling, Broiling, and Pan-frying
“Rib-eye”, “Strip”, “Shell” and “T-bone” steaks contain both the strip and tenderloin steaks, making it best for grilling, broiling, and pan-frying.
Roasting, Stir Frying and Kebabs
“Top sirloin”, “Tenderloin”, “Standing rib” roasts, and “Top rump” roast are good candidates for roasting. For stir-frying, “Flank”, “Top round”, and “Sirloin” steak are good because these cuts are best cooked quickly and tend to be more tender. “Tenderloin is the best cut to use for making kebabs because it absorbs flavors easily and it is very tender.
Pot roasts, Braising and Ground Beef
“Chuck” and “Rump” are good to use for pot-roasting and braising because the high levels of collagen require a long, slow cooking in a wet environment to reach their optimum tenderness. Chuck is perfect for ground beef because it has optimal amounts of fat, making it the most flavorful and tender.
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