To understand what piece of meat we should buy we have to analyze the “what is what” and the “where does it come from” first. So here we break down a side of beef and show you the most desired parts of it. This is only an overview and I will write more in depth about each part in future posts.
It is a fact that the more a muscle is used the tougher it gets. So if we look at this a little closer we find that a steer uses the front quarter the most for grazing and walking and with that “the Beef Chuck” includes the least tender meat with the exception of the even tougher beef shank, with is more sinewy. So we used to take any of these cuts and cooked it for a long period of time usually with some liquid (water) added . Here we get our cuts for pot roasts, stews and soups .
Let’s jump to the back of the beef side next, “the Round”:
As these muscles are only used for walking this section of the steer includes the next “not-as-tender” pieces of meat. The round steak, rump roast and sirloin tip are part of this. These cuts are usually already tender enough to be used as roast beef.
To the middle we go, this includes “the Beef Loin” and “the Beef Rib”. The job of this part is basically just to hold the front and back together.
The Beef Rib has, in my humble opinion, the most delicious cuts, starting with the prime rib, rib eye roast, rib steak, rib eye steak, which used to be also called Delmonico steak, and the back ribs. Even the back ribs, if prepared right, can be a finger licking good experience.
In the Beef Loin we find the sirloin steaks, T-bone and porterhouse and if you remove the bone this part gives you the top sirloin, New York strip and the beef tenderloin. The tenderloin is “the least” used muscle and therefore the most tender. Which kind of proves my statement above.
All the other parts include, besides stew meat and hamburger, meat for cube steaks, short ribs, flank steak, skirt steaks and also the brisket.
All the different sections will be worked on more in depth in future posts!
A nice PDF chart of the Retail Beef Cuts can be downloaded from the Cattleman’s Beef Board