By: Leanne Ely
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 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.
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