Distinguishing Beef Cuts
What's Your Preferred Cut?
This Hub is dedicated to learn more about different cuts of beef and what part of the bovine (relating to cattle) do they come from. What makes one cut of beef so tender and why are some cuts of beef so tough.
Beef is muscle tissue and muscle tissue makes the cut. For example, the most frequently used muscles create tougher cuts of beef while less used muscle tissue create more tender cuts of beef.
Particular cuts of beef are used for certain cooking methods for a reason. Muscles which are used more frequently are more tough and usually are used for long, slow and moist heat cooking methods. More tough cuts of beef are used for long, slow and moist heat cooking to loosen the connective tissue. Methods of moist heat cooking include boiling, braising and stewing. Least used muscles create a much more tender cut of beef and usually are cooked using a dry heat method such as grilling, broiling, roasting and sauteing.
In the diagram above, you will notice that the chuck, brisket and shank are the most used muscle which means the most toughest muscle. Most often the chuck, brisket and shank are braised. Braised means cooking the beef cut in a small amount of liquid for a long period of time. Buying tough beef cuts can help you save money but you will need to let cook slowly for a long period of time. Chuck, brisket and shank are the least expensive cuts of beef because they are the most used muscles which make them very tough. These parts of the bovine need to be well-cooked to become tender. Great for stews.
Another tough muscle beef cut of the bovine/cow is the round. The round is located towards the back of the bovine/cow. The round part of the bovine/cow is used all the time which means the muscle tissue is more tough. You have the top round, bottom round, heel round, eye round and rump roast. The top round is the most tender part of the round and London Broil comes from this part of the round. London broil is the most tender part of the round and because of this can be grilled. If you marinate the london broil for at least eight hours (over night would be ideal) the London Broil will be on the tender side. Marinate instead of cooking longer.
Here is one more tidbit of information about the round part of the bovine/cow. The eye round is also known as the bottom round and is cheaper than the top round. Deli roast beef comes from the bottom round and the cooking method used is roasting/dry heat. Cooks can get away with cooking bottom round beef cuts because roast beef is sliced thin. Because it's sliced thin there is no need to cook the round beef using the moist heat methods.
The shank is located below the brisket and the round sections of the bovine/cow. Braising is suggested when cooking this beef cut. It's tough texture needs to be cooked for a long period of time to make it tender to enjoy.
The plate and flank section of the bovine/cow is considered medium toughness. These beef cuts have intra-muscular fat which maintains some tenderness. Short ribs come from the short plate and skirt steak come from the short plate section while the flank and hanger steaks come from the flank section. These beef cuts benefit from being marinated before cooking and should be cut against the grain for a softer texture. In my opinion it's best to order these cuts of beef rare and medium rare to enjoy the most out of it's flavor.
The most tender cuts of beef are the rib, short loin and sirloin. These are the most delicate cuts of beef. Because of the top quality of beef tenderness, using any cooking style is suggested. Rib steaks, (prime rib) rib-eye steaks (without the bone) and rib roast naturally come from the rib section of the bovine/cow.
The tenderloin roast and the tri-tip roast are boneless cuts of beef. These two cuts of beef come from the bottom part of the sirloin.
From what I have learned throughout the years of serving and eating steak, the Porterhouse and T-bone are the most tender and most expensive. The shell steak, NY strip, strip and top loin are very tender and delicious. Filet Mignon comes from the small end of the tenderloin and melts in your mouth. Most people order Filet Mignon rare or medium rare because of it's naturally tenderness texture and the flavor is delicious.
I hope you enjoyed the descriptions of different cuts of beef. Remember, you can always purchase the least expensive cut of beef at the grocery store and use the cooking method of braising to turn it into a enjoyable moist tender stew. Braising less expensive cuts of beef will help you stretch you buck while your family enjoys a good quality dinner. You can get more for your money.