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
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)
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
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
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.
Highest quality, most tender, juicy flavorful.
Most popular quality, very tender, juicy flavorful.
Lean, fairly tender, not as juicy and flavorful.
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.
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.