Cuts of Beef – Explained
It’s Friday and you just got off work. You get it in your head to go to the grocery store and pick up a great cut of beef and treat your significant other. You’re looking for a steak that won’t break your budget, but will pack a ton of flavor. You get to the meat counter and it dawns on you that you have no clue what the difference between a ribeye and a flank-steak is.
If you’ve ever found yourself in this situation, don’t fret because we’re here to help! We will dive into the 4 main sections of beef, how cuts vary and the best way to cook them.
The cows that are reserved for butchering are steers and heifers. Steers are castrated males, whereas heifers are un-bread females. A heifer tends to taste sweeter and fattier.
When the animal is butchered, it is cut into four main part: The chuck, the rib, the loin and the round. Let’s dive right in, we’ll explain the different cuts, where they are located on the cows’ body and the best way to cook with them.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO KEEP IN MIND THAT WHEN YOU ARE CUTTING INTO BEEF ALWAYS CUT AGAINST THE GRAIN. THIS WAY YOU USE THE KNIFE TO DO WHAT OUR JAWS DO, DENATURING THE PROTEINS. IF YOU CUT AGAINST THE GRAIN YOUR MEAT WILL END UP MORE TENDER THAN IF YOU HADN’T.
The chuck roast is a shoulder cut. It’s full of connective tissue and collagen so it’s a tough meat, but due to the constant movement of the muscle its packed full of flavor.
This steak is best prepared by slow cooking the meat, but you have to be careful because you run the danger of drying out the meat. Meat proteins dry out at 165 degree’s whereas connective tissue starts to break down at 195 degrees. The ideal methods of preparing this cut is souvi, a braise with a broth or to smoke it with a liquid. – Grind, Roast or Stew
This cut sits under the chuck roast and is packed with flavor. Perfect for a sear or to grill over high heat.
The Flat Iron cut lies under the scalpula. Next to the tenderloin, this is the second most tender cut, but it packs 10 times more flavor from the constant movement in this muscle.
This is the one cut of beef that will still taste good if cooked well done. So, if you have that family member that likes well done meat, and you don’t want to punish them for their preferences this is the cut to use.
This is an extremely unique cut; butchers tend to cut the chuck in a completely different way if they aim for this steak. This cut sits right on top of the club and is best served rare.
A very popular cut, best served medium to medium-rare due to the large amount of connective tissue you have to break down. The benefit of the bone-in is that it helps protect the ribeye part of the steak as you render the fat cap. It also ads a touch of flavor, but protecting the cut is the true benefit of having a bone.
An insanely flavorful steak, this cut gets its name because it hangs on the animal’s diaphragm. There is only one hanger steak cut on the animal. Cook this steak to perfection than cut out the long tendon inside for a consistent temperature.
This is a tougher piece of meat so it’s best cooked in the slow-cooker or smoked. There are three different cuts of short ribs.
English Cut – 3 bones, 2 inches long
Texas Cut – Single Bone, long cut of 5 inches
Korean Cut – Quarter inch across
Along the diaphragm, this cut make excellent tacos and goes well in marinades. The proper way to cut a Skirt Steak is to cut them into 3 large pieces, then cut against the grain, otherwise you’ll be chewing on them for a minute.
This is a premium cut because this muscle has not experienced much movement, making it super tender. This is where you get your filet mignon cuts from.
It’s the same muscle as the ribeye but it’s a leaner cut that tastes more irony. A definite crowd pleaser that’s best served rare to medium rare.
If it has the steak bone in it’s called a Kansas City steak.
Great for Marinades and a quick sear. Use tropical fruits like papaya and pineapple to marinade this cut to help the connective tissues break down. DO NOT let the tropical fruit marinade sit overnight, you’ll be left with steak mush.
This cut is known for its California barbecue. This cut is great for slow cooking grilling and smoking. It’s very versatile.
This cut is located at the top of the rump, a very lean and flavorful cut.
This cut has lots of connective tissue and collagen so it’s best cooked in a stew, braise or slow-cook.
Full of great flavor, this cut is best cooked using a souvi and grill. This cut is popular due to the Ossobuco dish.
Located on the front shoulder chuck section, the beef brisket comprises of 2 main muscles, the pectoral and the point. Smoke it together so that you get to enjoy the mouthwatering moisture from the gelatin. Cook this bad boy for 12 hours on the smoker at 225 degrees then wrap it until it hits 160 degrees to trap the moisture.
In conclusion, you don’t have to sacrifice quality when you’re on a budget. Turn to the working-class cuts like the flat iron (did we mention it’s the second tenderest cut) or teres major for high flavor steaks. Since these cuts have a lot of movement through the muscles, they are jam packed with flavor.
If you’re considering grass-fed, you are looking at leaner and gamier tasty cuts. That gamey taste is the omega-3 fatty acids that grass-fed beef is chock full of.
No matter what cut you choose from, shop at your local butcher to avoid the miss-labeling at grocery stores. You can also turn to Raise America for 100% American grown beef that is organic and grass-fed.