Beef is one of the primary sources of protein in our diet and you should know how to choose it properly. There are eight grades of beef that you can find in the market. These grades are determined by USDA, you should purchase beef from sellers that are certified by USDA. The grade of the meat depends on various factors, such as shape of the meat, aging process, muscle texture, fat content, fat color and marbling. Proper marbling will make roast or steak more tender and flavourful. Grades of beef that are defined by USDA include Prime, Choice, Select, Standard, Commercial, Utility, Canner and Cutter. Meat grading is voluntary, but anything below Select or Standard can be used for home cooking, stews, canned soups and other things you do at home.
Select and above are quite expensive. They should be used for fine dining purposes in restaurants. Improper cooking technique will ruin their flavour and texture. There are also other terms that are used to define the quality of beef, such as all natural, grass fed and free range. When these terms are added alongside regular USDA grades, you can expect to pay more money. Grass fed cattle will produce better tasting meat, compared to cattle with regular feed.
Beef sections are typically categorized as primals. The front quarter is consisted of four primals, such as the Chuck, Cross Rib, Rib and Plate. The plate runs from the bottom part of the rib to the front quarter. When choosing brisket, make sure it’s located right under the font shank. You should be aware that the brisket part can be quite fatty. There are two big knots of fat in the brisket area, so you should make sure that the butcher has cleaned it up for you. The leaner part of the brisket should be along the lower portion of the front quarter.
Primals of the hind quarter include the round (rump, sirloin tip and rear shank), loin (short loin and head loin) and flank. Boned out head loin can be used for fillet mignon, fillet steaks and sirloin steak. If you want to get a huge steak, ask the butcher to slice through the whole head loin. Short loin starts from the end of head loin to the entire hind quarter. You can use short loin for steaks, especially Porterhouse steaks. Next to head loin, you can use the part for making T-bone steaks. Boned out short loin can be used to make New York steaks, Club steaks and Top Loin steaks.
Rib steak is known to be more flavourful than many other parts. It’s up to you whether you want to de-bone the rib steak, but many prefer to keep the steak with the bone. When properly cooked, the meat can actually be easily removed from the bone. By taking the above consideration, you should be able to get the most of your money and obtain the best beef quality available for your in the market. Beef is a significant source of protein, you should be careful with your selection.