What’s your beef?

When you source your meat locally, which I always recommend you do, you’re going to be paying a bit more for cuts than you’d be used to at a grocery chain.

And when you spend a little more on your beef, you want to be good and sure that you enjoy it. That means getting the right cut for the cooking method you’ll be using.

Since I’m advising y’all to splurge on those locally sourced, pastured meats, I thought I’d take it upon myself to work a little harder at helping to educate you about what grades and cuts you should be buying for which purpose. Some of our readers have also asked for this type of information, so here you have it!

Buying beef by the grade

When you buy beef in the United States (things are a bit different up North for our Canadian friends), you’re going to want to consider cut and grade. Here in the US, beef is graded according to the texture, color, marbling, and age of the animal.

The most common grades of beef you’ll find are prime, choice, and select.

Prime beef is the most expensive. This is the highest grade—the most flavorful and the most tender beef you’ll find. Prime beef is most often found at butcher shops and specialty meat stores.

Choice beef is leaner than prime, and it’s the most common cut you’ll find at the grocery store.

Select beef is the least expensive cut of these three grades, and it’s best for braising and stewing.

There are other grades of beef (e.g., standard and commercial) that are hardly fit to eat, in my opinion, so you’ll want to avoid these very tough, low-quality grades of beef.

Which cut to buy

Now that you know you’re looking for prime, choice, or select beef, let’s take a look at which cuts you’ll want to look for, depending on what you’re cooking.

For dry methods of cooking like grilling, roasting, sautéing, or broiling, you’ll want to use a very tender cut of beef. The most tender of cuts include tenderloin, rib eye, rib roasts, porterhouse, sirloin, New York strip, shell, filet mignon, and Delmonico steaks.

If you’re buying beef for braising, stewing, or preparing in your crock cooker, you can use roasts that are a bit tougher. Look for brisket, rump, chuck, shoulder, and bottom round for these wet methods of cooking.

With Dinner Answers you can find fabulous recipes for all cuts of beef!  Get all the details here!

0 Responses

  1. Love this article, Leanne! Have to say, though, that I don’t think local pastured meat is a splurge. The higher costs are the REAL costs. Factory farmed beef is heavily subsidized with federal taxpayer money so the real cost of producing it is hidden. Smaller beef operations don’t have those benefits available, so they have to charge the full costs. When you buy local food, in most cases you paying what it actually costs to produce. For more details about this, check out the book Gaining Ground by Forrest Pritchard, and also Blessing the Hands That Feed Us by Vicki Robin (co-author of Your Money or Your Life).

  2. I have meat in the freezer from ordering a 1/4 cow. Rib steaks. I’m not sure what to do with them? I usually buy sirloin to grill.

  3. Leanne, we’ve limited our beef to a treat once or twice a month, and only buy small filets of tenderloin, and try to get them from grass fed animals. So delicious and tender! Great article.

  4. I think one thing that should be addressed that many people do not understand is “marbling” and what that means. I know people (who shall remain nameless) who will always go for the steak with the least amount of fat… and that is so so wrong it makes my skin crawl to think about trying to eat that (esp if it is destined for a grill). Steak should not have the texture of cardboard!

  5. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Steak. This dish looks delish. I’m going to have to give it a try,. Of course, my favorite cut is the Rib-Eye because I love the flavor the fat gives to the overall steak. I cut it off before serving though.

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