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Beef Information

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HOW TO BUY BEEF

There are many kinds of beef roasts ranging from rib roasts, the gourmet's delight, to arm pot roast, for hearty he-man meals. Likewise, many different cuts of beef are called "steaks." Each of these cuts can vary in quality, depending upon the kind of carcass from which it came, but all are nutritious and all can provide good eating if properly prepared. The secret lies in suiting the cooking method to the grade and the cut you select.

ABOUT BEEF QUALITY: Beef varies in quality more than any other kind of meat. But you don't have to judge beef quality for yourself. USDA grades are a reliable guide to meat quality- its tenderness, juiciness, and flavor. The grades are based on nationally uniform Federal standards of quality and are applied by USDA graders. Therefore, you can be sure that a USDA Choice rib roast, for example, will provide the same good eating no matter when or where you buy it.

LOOK FOR THE GRADE: Each USDA beef grade is a measure of a distinct level of quality. Because beef can vary so much in quality, it takes eight grades to span the range. The lower three grades- USDA Utility, Cutter, and Canner- are seldom, if ever, sold as retail cuts. They go mostly into ground beef or into processed meat items such as hot dogs.

The grade most widely sold at retail is USDA Choice. Choice grade is produced in the greatest volume and retailers have found that this level of quality pleased most of their customers. Some stores, however, offer two grades- Prime and Choice or Choice and Standard. So that their customers may have a choice of quality and price.

Prime grade beef is the ultimate in tenderness, juiciness, and flavor. It has abundant marbling- flecks of fat within the lean- which enhances both flavor and juiciness.

A U.S. Prime rib roast is considered by many as the finest meat dish available. Prime round, rump, and sirloin tip roasts also provide excellent eating. Prime grade roasts are the best for dry-heat (oven) cooking.

Prime steaks are best for broiling.

Choice grade beef has slightly less marbling than Prime, but is still of very high quality.

USDA Choice rib, rump, round, and sirloin tip roasts can also, like Prime, be oven roasted. They will be quite tender, juicy, and flavorful.

Choice- grade steaks are good for broiling and pan- broiling. They will be tender, juicy and flavorful.

Good grade beef often pleases thrifty shoppers because it is somewhat more lean than the higher grades. It is relatively tender, but because it has less marbling it lacks some of the juiciness and flavor of the higher grades. Some stores sell this quality of beef under a house brand name rather than under the USDA grade name.

Standard grade beef has a high proportion of lean meat and little fat. Because it comes from young animals, beef of this grade Is fairly tender. But because it lacks marbling. It is very mild in flavor and most cuts will be somewhat dry unless prepared with moist heat.

Commercial grade beef is produced only from mature animals- the top four grades are restricted to young animals. Although it has abundant marbling (comparable with the Prime grade) it will require long, slow cooking with moist heat to make it tender. However, Commercial grade beef will have the rich, full, flavor characteristic of mature beef and if properly prepared can provide delicious and economical meat dishes.

LOOK FOR THE CUT: Regardless of their quality grade, some cuts of beef are naturally more tender than others. Cuts from the less-used muscles along the back of the animal- the rib and loin section- will always be more tender than those from the active muscles such as the shoulder (chuck), flank, and round.

The most tender cuts make up only a small portion of the beef carcass- and they are in greatest demand. Therefore, they command a higher price than other cuts.

Names given beef cuts sometimes vary from store to store and in different parts of the country. It would be impossible to try to list them all here. Moreover, the terms used do not always mean the same thing. For example, a "cross cut rib roast" may be cut from the blade portion of the chuck in some places- in others it may be from the shoulder arm portion of the chuck. It is not the cut from the rib roast, as you might assume from the name. Likewise, a "Delmonico" steak is cut from the ribeye in some parts at the country, while in other areas it is cut from the chuck.

Grades
U.S. Prime
Highest quality, most tender, juicy flavorful.

U.S. Choice
Most popular quality, very tender, juicy flavorful.

U.S. Good
Lean, fairly tender, not as juicy and flavorful.

Cuts: Steaks-
Most Tender- rib steaks, tenderloin, porterhouse, T-Bone, strip loin, club, sirloin steaks.

Moderately Tender- blade chuck, round steaks.

Least Tender- arm chuck, flank steaks.

Cuts: Roasts-
Most Tender- rib roasts, ribeye roasts.

Moderately Tender- rump roasts, sirloin roasts.

Less Tender- eye-of-round, blade chuck, shoulder clod.

Least Tender- heel of round, shoulder arm, brisket.


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ROAST
Rib Roast:
Unexcelled for tenderness and flavor. Frequently called "standing rib" or "prime rib" even if not USDA Prime. Has a rather large portion of bone and fat. Can be oven-roasted.

Ribeye Roast:
The meaty, boneless heart of the standing rib. This cut has excellent flavor and is superbly tender. Can be oven-roasted.

Rump Roast:
This is a very flavorful cut, but is less tender than the rib roast and contains a considerable amount of bone. The rump is often sold boned or rolled, for easier carving. Can be oven-roasted, but pot-roast the lower grades.

Sirloin Tip:
This is a boneless roast, with very little waste. Despite its name, it is not as tender as a sirloin steak. But it has good flavor and is tender enough to be oven roasted. Sometimes called: loin tip, round tip, knuckle.

Eye-of-Round Roast:
Lean and meaty, this tender cut has good flavor. It may be oven roasted in Prime and Choice grades but should be pot-roasted in lower grades.

Heel of Round:
A boneless, less tender cut from the round. This roast contains several muscles of varing tenderness. It should be pot-roasted regardless of grade.

Blade Chuck:
An economical roast with excellent flavor. This one can be oven-roasted in Prime and Choice grades, although all grades make execellent pot-roast.

Shoulder Arm:
Contains less bone than the blade chuck, but this cut is less tender. It has the same well developed flavor. Cook only as a pot-roast in all grades. Also called round bone chuck or arm roast.

Shoulder Clod:
This is a meaty cut from outside the of the Chuck. It has a well-developed flavor and no bone. A fairly tender cut, it may be oven-roasted, but lower grades best as a pot-roast.

Brisket:
Often cured and sold as corned beef. The brisket is also sold fresh, usually with bones removed. Definitely a less tender cut, it must be cooked with moist heat (pot-roasted) in all grades.


STEAKS

Tenderloin (Fliet Mignon):

The most tender of all steaks. The tenderloin has no bone and very little fat. Broil or pan-broil in all grades.

Porterhouse:
Often considered the best steak. The porterhouse usually sells at a higher price than other bone-in steaks. It has a generous section of tenderloin, which can be removed and served separately as filet mignon. Broil or pan-broil in Prime, Choice, and Good grades. This is a good steak for special occasions.

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T-Bone:
Very similar to the porterhouse steak, but with a smaller amount of tenderloin. The T-bone can be used in the same fashion. Broil or pan-broil in Prime, Choice, and Good grades.

Club Steak:
The Club Steak, like the porterhouse and the T-bone, but has no tenderloin. Its relatively small size makes this steak well suited to individual servings.Rib steaks are often sold as club steaks since they too, contain the same large muscle.

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Strip Loin Steak:
This steak is the same muscle as the large muscle in both the porterhouse and the T-bone. It is very flavorful and tender. Can be broiled or pan-broiled in the Prime, Choice and Good grades. This steak is also sold boneless. The Strip Loin Steak is often sold in restaurants as a New York Strip Steak or a Kansas City Steak.

Sirloin:
The sirloin is a large steak. It contains several different muscles and varies in size, shape, and bone size.Sirloins are frequently cut into two boneless steaks- top sirloin and bottom sirloin. The top sirloin is the better of the two. Broil or pan-broil in Prime, Choice, and Good grades, Braise in lower grades.

Sirloin Tip:
This is a boneless steak that is less tender than the regular sirloin. Can be Broiled or pan-broiled in Prime, Choice, and Good grades, Braise in lower grades.

Rib Steak:
This steak is cut from the rib section and includes the rib bone. It is sold as Rib Roast when cut two or more ribs thick. It has a well developed flavor and is very tender broiled or pan-broiled.

Blade Chuck:
This is an economical steak with well developed flavor but varies in tenderness. The "First Cut" of blade chuck is from adjacent the rib roast and contains a sizable extension of the ribeye muscle. This makes a delicious and tender steak. Other sections of this cut are definitely less tender and should be cooked with moist heat (braised).

Ribeye:
Cut from the eye of the beef rib, this steak is boneless and has little fat. Like the rib steak, it has a well-developed flavor and is very tender. Broil or pan-broil. The Ribeye steak is often sold as a Delmonico Steak.

Arm Chuck:
Although sold as steak in some stores, this cut is best used as Swiss Steak or braised. It is definitely a less tender cut but has a good flavor. It can be identified by the round arm bone. It has very little waste.

Round:
Because it has very little waste, the round steak is usually an economical buy. It is not as flavorful and juciy as some of the other steaks because it lacks marbling, The full round contains three muscles which vary in tenderness. Top Round is the most tender of the three. Top Round can be broilded or pan-broiled in Prime and Choice, but braise lower grades. Also the bottom round and eye-of the round must be braised.


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