Most of us feel intense discomfort standing at the meat counter trying to look like we know what we’re looking for, when in fact it all looks exactly the same to us. We know, confronting these different cuts is confusing, and we are here to help you understand the differences between them, and figure out how to cook each cut to perfection.
What Is in The Meat?
Although beef cuts may seem similar, the slight differences in their composition have a huge effect on how they react to heat. Meat has three main components; muscle fibers, connective tissue, and Collagen, and when we understand how these components react, we can choose the right way to cook them.
Know Your Cut
How do you know what your beef cut is made of? We know you just want to know how to pick and cook your steaks. You can always fill yourself with information to know about different steak cuts, BBQ techniques, and grilling and smoking recipes, but we will give you a general idea on different beef cuts and what they need to cook properly. It’s important to remember that the more a muscle moves, the more collagen, and connective tissue it contains, which makes it tougher. This means that the parts of the animal that move the most make the tough cuts, while resting muscles are more on the tender side.
Beef cuts on the tender side of the scale are located on the hinder side of the animal and some of the most desirable meat cuts, which include the rib region found in bone-in ribeye and beef short rib. It also includes the short loin, from which you get one of the most desirable cuts of meat such as the classic T-bone and the Top Sirloin, which allows you to get a neat New York strip or center-cut sirloin. Short loins are also the cuts behind the tenderloin, from which we get the superb filet mignon medallions.
Tender cuts have less connective tissue and less collagen, so you can put them on direct heat and they will not take a long time to cook. That is why they are perfect for grilling or roasting, especially for steaks.
A good way to cook a tender cut is to cook it on high heat for a short time and then to reduce the heat, until it cooks to the extent you want. This lets the meat keep its natural juices and maintain flavor.
Thighs, legs, and muscles, or what is generally called the lower locomotive group, have muscles that are most active and get a lot of exercises, which gives them tougher cuts. This doesn’t mean bad cuts if you know how to handle them.
Among the tough cuts is Chuck. Most ground beef is ground chuck. It is tender and slightly fatty. Then, there is the shank, which is extremely tough and full of connective tissue. There are also the brisket, the flank, and the plate.
Tough cuts need time and low heat, so that the connective tissue starts cooking and the collagen melts. That is why slow-cooked stews are perfect for cooking tougher cuts.
Tough cuts should basically be overcooked. When cooked on low and slow heat, they will have a tender texture and the released juice from the melting collagen will make the meat feel moisture and more tender in your mouth
Another important tip when choosing your meat is sizing up the amount of fat it has in it because the fat in meat means flavor; the more fat in a cut, the more marbling you get.
How people like their meat done is up to their taste and personal preference. However, knowing your beef cuts can save you a lot of time, effort, money, and disappointment. Ensure you are well-aware of beef cuts to get yourself the nicest cooked meat out there!