Beef Cuts Explained
To some people, beef cuts can be confusing, and learning to identify them, and what to use them for means a big difference when cooking delicious recipes. Here we share information from various sources we hope can be very useful to you. During butchering, beef is first divided into primal cuts, pieces of meat initially separated from the carcass. These are basic sections from which steaks and other subdivisions are cut. The term “primal cut” is quite different from “prime cut”, used to characterize cuts considered to be of higher quality.
Since the animal’s legs and neck muscles do the most work, they are the toughest; the meat becomes tenderer as distance from hoof and horn increases. Different countries and cuisines have different cuts and names, and sometimes use the same name for a different cut; e.g., the cut described as “brisket” in the US is from a significantly different part of the carcass than British “brisket”. “Cut” often refers narrowly to skeletal muscle (sometimes attached to bones), but can also include other edible flesh, such as offal (organ meat) or bones without significant muscles attached.
There are 8 main cuts of beef:
The USDA divides a cow into eight regions. They are called the primal cuts, or the main cuts. These eight are important. You need to learn them. If you do, you can easily understand everything you see at the grocery store. Here are the eight primal cuts:
- Loin (short loin and sirloin)
- Short Plate
The video in this article shows every cut, and the links below provide the complete guide with names per region.
How to Choose the Best Cut of Steak
For just about any steak, it’s especially important to look at thickness. Although thinner cuts of steak can cook just fine on the grill or in the oven, they’re a little more difficult to master. An extra 30 seconds or minute too long, and your delicious steak can turn into a not-so-tempting hockey puck. Thicker cuts allow you a little more time to play with, so you can get the perfect grill marks and cook without overcooking it. Of course, the right thickness can vary with your preferences, but it’s a good idea to choose a cut that’s at least 1-inch thick for any cooking method.
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