Beef

Beef is the culinary name for meat from cattle, particularly skeletal muscle. Humans have been eating beef since prehistoric times. Beef is a source of protein and nutrients Cattle are reared in the following ways:

  • Lot Fed.
  • Grass-Fed.
  • Grain-Fed.

Lot Fed: For a minimum of 100 days the animal is fed on corn, grass and millet and allow to move in a very limited area. Fat content in these cows are very high and they are the costliest too because of intense farming required.

Grass-Fed: In this method of farming the cows are allowed to move in a slightly larger area and are fed with only grass for 70 days.

Grain-Fed: The best quality beef is obtained from this kind of farming, where in the animals are allowed to move in a much larger area and hence there is a lot of marbling but not too much of it. The animal is fed only with grain and a little grass for 100 days. This is costlier than grass fed cows.

Grass fed

Grain Fed

Lot Fed

Quality determination of Beef.

When choosing Beef, the following points are to be borne in mind:

  1. It should bright red and shiny in appearance.
  2. Firm and springy to touch with a sweet light scent.
  3. It has a good network of white or slightly yellowish fat.
  4. In order to be tender, the beef must be matured after slaughtering.
  5. The meat should look fresh and moist, not watery.
  6. The lean or prime cuts should look smooth and velvety.

Composition of Beef

    Water

65% (maximum)

    Proteins

20%

    Fat 

31%

With some traces of phosphorus and iron. Beef produces 220-340 cal. from every 100 grms.

CUTS OF BEEF

A cattle is broken down into what are called primal cuts, the main areas of the animal which include the loin, rib, round, flank, chuck, sirloin, brisket, and more.

These primal cuts are then broken down into sub-primal cuts, including specific steaks and chops: flank steak, flat iron steak, filet mignon, rib eye. 

As you’ll see below, there are many different cuts of beef to learn. 

Loin, short loin, strip loin cuts

These are usually leaner cuts of beef, best grilled or fried, and work better with high heat. It’s the T-Bone and Porterhouse Steaks, the Tenderloins, cuts of meat that respond better to dry heat cooking. For a primordial recipe where nothing gets in the way of the flavour of the meat, learn how to cook beef tenderloin on a bed of salt in a searing hot pan.

Sirloin cuts

Filet mignon, bavette, tri-tips, strip steak and roasts – coming from the rear of the animal, these are also leaner cuts, and certainly not the best beef choice if you want to slow cook. The sirloin family is best for grilling, skillet and stir-fry, with high, dry heats. Follow Gordon Ramsay’s stovetop fillet mignon recipe to bite into a luscious steak enhanced by the fragrances of rosemary and thyme.

Rib cuts

Ribeye filet, ribeye cap, ribeye steak. These cuts are getting fattier, meaning some of them are better for slow cooking and roasting. Not all the cuts in the rib family work well with slow cooking methods: ribeye steak, for example, will always kick better grilled or fried in a skillet.

Chuck cuts

Blade, chuck eye, country-style ribs, this is where the slow goodness starts to come to play with some good cuts for pot roasts. Don’t get us wrong, you’ll also find lots of chuck cuts are good for grilling: top blade, ranch steak, shoulder steak. If you only understand one section, chuck is the one as there’s a cut for every style of cooking. 

Brisket cuts

You can’t really go wrong with brisket, whether you choose flat or point cut – they both want to be slow cooked. For us, brisket point works better than brisket flat, the flat cut is a bit leaner. Just be careful when slow cooking brisket, it’s a forgiving cut but the margin between delicious juicy and chewy dry is small.

Round cuts

Coming from the back legs of the cow, this is a part of the animal that usually provides leaner cuts of beef so you need to know your business at this end. Top, bottom and eye round will go well at high heats, the bottom, rump and eye roast are best for slow cooking and, you guessed it, oven roasted. 

Plate & flank cuts

Skirt, flank, short ribs: only the short ribs should be slow-cooked over here, the flank and skirt steak will do you best grilled or fried. There are endless rich variations on braised ribs, where this cut is immersed in a bath of rich flavours like red wine, beer, garlic, or tomato until the meat is falling off the bone.

Other cuts

Beef cuts come in all shapes, sizes, textures and tastes. ‘Other’ covers anything that doesn’t fall into the rest of the main families. You have stewing steak, burgers, corned beef, minced and ground beef in this category. Shanks, which come from the legs of the cow, are probably one of the most interesting beef cuts and perfect for slow cooking.

One of our favourite cuts of cow is the cheeks. Beef cheeks are an often overlooked piece of meat that many top chefs use in their restaurants. One of the most forgiving cuts when cooked slowly and a simple piece of meat that will change your pot roast game for the better. The recipe below shows you how. 

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