Beef cuts refer to the various sections of a cow that are processed into meat products. Understanding beef cuts can enhance your culinary skills, allowing you to choose the right cut for the right cooking method. From luxurious filet mignon to hearty stews made from chuck or round, the variety of beef cuts offers a wide range of flavors and textures to explore and enjoy.
These are cuts from the shoulder area of the cow. They have a lot of muscle and connective tissue which is tougher but flavorful due to more movement. It’s often slow-roasted and can also be used to make ground beef. It’s a more affordable cut that’s great for slow cooking methods.
The beef has 13 ribs on each side. The meat between the ribs is cut out to make rib fingers. When cut into sections with the bone, it becomes short ribs. They have a lot of meat and fat on them, which makes them juicy and tender. These cuts are often used in grilling or slow-cooking recipes.
The beef short loin is a cut of beef that comes from the back of the steer, just behind the rib and ahead of the sirloin. It’s a premium cut that’s known for its tenderness and flavor. The short loin is where we get some of the most desirable cuts of beef, including T-bone and porterhouse steaks, as well as the strip loin or New York strip. The steaks can be bone-in or boneless, depending on whether the tenderloin is removed or not. The steaks are best cooked to medium-rare or medium to preserve their juiciness and flavor.
Here are some common uses for the short loin:
- T-Bone and Porterhouse Steaks: These are both cut from the short loin and include a “T-shaped” bone with meat on each side. On one side is a piece of the tenderloin, and the other side is a piece of the strip loin. The main difference between the two is the size of the tenderloin: in the T-bone, it’s smaller; in the porterhouse, it’s larger.
- Strip Loin or New York Strip: This is a cut from the other side of the T-bone and porterhouse steak, and it’s known for its tenderness and buttery texture. It’s a popular choice for grilling or broiling.
The sirloin is a cut of beef from the back of the animal, behind the ribs but before the round (the rear end). The sirloin is divided into several types of steak. In the U.S., the sirloin is further divided into the top sirloin and the bottom sirloin.
In some countries, such as the UK, Australia, and South Africa, the word sirloin refers to cuts of meat from the upper middle of the animal, similar to the American short loin, while the American sirloin is called the rump. In these countries, the T-bone steak is regarded as a cut of the sirloin.
This is from the area near the lower back of the beef. The part closer to the back is called top sirloin, and the part closer to the belly is called bottom sirloin.
Top sirloin is a tender and flavorful cut of beef that has some marbling and fat. It is best suited for grilling, broiling, or pan-frying. It can be sold as boneless top sirloin steak, top sirloin roast, or center cut sirloin steak.
The bottom sirloin is less tender than the top sirloin, and it’s a larger cut. It’s located near the hip and includes cuts like the tri-tip, bavette, and flap steak. The bottom sirloin is often used for roasts, but it can also be cut into steaks or used for ground beef. The tri-tip, in particular, has become popular for grilling. The bottom sirloin provides good flavor but can be a bit tougher than the top sirloin, so it’s often marinated or slow-cooked to tenderize.
This is a cut from the loin section of the cow. It is also known as filet mignon, chateaubriand, or beef fillet. It is the most tender and expensive cut of beef. It has very little fat or marbling, which makes it mild in flavor. It is best suited for grilling, broiling, or pan-frying.
This is a cut from the rear leg or rump of the cow. It is also known as bottom round or top round. It is a lean and tough cut of beef that has very little fat or marbling. It is best suited for braising, stewing, or roasting. It can also be slow-roasted or pan-fried and sliced thin for sandwiches.
The brisket is found over the sternum, ribs, and connecting costal cartilages. It’s basically the chest of the cow. Since this area contains a substantial amount of connective tissue, it’s best suited for long, slow cooking methods that allow this tough connective tissue to break down. Brisket is often used for barbecue, corned beef, and pastrami. In Chinese cuisine, it’s often used in stews and braised dishes.
The plate, or short plate, is the other source of short ribs. It’s found near the abdomen, and it’s fattier than the flank. It’s also the source of skirt steak, which is used in fajitas. When the plate is left on the rib section, it becomes part of the “long ribs.” The plate provides some very flavorful cuts due to the presence of cartilage and bone, which imparts a rich taste when cooked slowly.
The flank is located below the loin and has a lot of hard-working muscles, with long fibers and a fair amount of connective tissue. The meat here is lean, somewhat tough, but full of intense flavors too. Flank is often used in dishes that are braised (like a braise of beef and mixed vegetables), broiled, or grilled. It’s also commonly used for ground beef due to its lean meat-to-fat ratio.
This is from the front and back legs of the beef. It is also known as beef shank or osso buco. It’s often found in Chinese supermarkets as a whole piece. The shank is a tough cut with a lot of connective tissue and collagen. It is best suited for braising, stewing, or soup making.
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