Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Beef Cuts

It's BBQ season finally, and one of the most common things to cook up is good old beef. However, it's hard to know which cuts are the best. So I thought I'd share some insights here.

The most tender cuts – and best for grilling: as steaks or kebabs
Rib steaks
These are my all time favorite. They are well marbled with fat, which gives them the most wonderful flavor. Of course they’re not on most diet plans). I love the bone in rib steak, so I can chew on the bone)

Rib eye – boneless center cut of the rib steak and the one I prefer for my Portuguese Steak recipe

Loin cuts

Sirloin, Club steaks, T-bone, Porterhouse (larger version of T-bones), Tenderloin, called beef fillets in Australia (which, when sliced across does make lovely steaks- This is the cut I use for my Steak au Poivre recipe because the sauce is rich enough without extra fat from such cuts as rib eye) and Filet Mignon, which is just a fancy name for the tip end of the tenderloin.

Less tender cuts but equally great for grilling if you marinate them first:
Short ribs – sliced very thin across the bone. These are also called Miami Ribs in some places. Here’s a favorite recipe of mine

Flank Steak- an entire muscle group and needs to be cut across the grain when serving. Try this recipe, or this one

Skirt Steak – is from the lower part of the brisket. In some areas this is a more common cut than flank steak, so you can use them interchangeably

Hanger steak – part of the diaphragm muscle

And of course, what would we do without ground beef for delicious burgers and such.

Great for long slow cooking:
Chuck – from the shoulder is very flavorful and my favorite choice for stews and slow oven braising.

Brisket – long slow roasting is needed to get this baby tender, but well worth the effort….and the house smells wonderful while it’s cooking.

Round- top round, bottom round, eye of round (the stringiest of the three) are good for roasts, and braises. Texture wise, they’re more like rib roasts, but tougher. They do well for moist roasting (liquid in the pan and covered) as opposed to dry roasting (no liquid, no cover and – for me – sitting on a bed of sliced onions). Rib roast is the star for that! I like to stud my rib roast with slivers of garlic and coat the top and sides with a mixture of powdered mushrooms, freshly ground black pepper and dry mustard.

Some really good sites for more specific info is Ask the MeatMan or Beef - It's what's for dinner, or Beef - Beef Cuts, or Texas Beef - Happy beefing!!

If there's anyone out there with other ideas, please share them in the comments.

Please email me any of your questions, and if I don't have the answer, I'll certainly try find it for you.
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