Cooking Class: Cuts of Beef
When you wander down the aisle of the Meat section of your local supermarket, you’re confronted by a wide variety of different cuts of meat. Here’s a list of the various cuts you may encounter and the types of dishes you can prepare with them.
Beef Brisket: This popular boneless cut of beef is most often used in the preparation of corned beef and pulled barbecue beef. Before the advent of refrigeration, this cut was often pickled to preserve it for long periods of time. Over time, the taste of the pickled beef became popular and it remains so to the present day in dishes like corned beef and cabbage.
Flank Steak: Contrary to popular opinion, the best type of flank steak you can buy is one that is thick and short in appearance with a bit of fat on it. If a flank steak is long, thin and very lean, it will have a gritty texture when cooked and not much flavor. Flank steak is an excellent steak to grill. After cooking flank steak, cut it in thin slices against the grain of the meat. For the best flavor, it’s recommended that you marinate flank steak before cooking it. This will add some tenderness to this cut of beef.
Skirt Steak: This cut has a grainier appearance than flank steak. It’s often used in the preparation of fajitas. Skirt steak also benefits from being placed in a marinade prior to cooking.
Bottom Round Roast: While some people roast this cut of beef in the oven, it is best enjoyed when cooked over low moist heat as you would do for a dish such as pot roast.
Similar cuts are rump roast and eye round roast.
Eye Round Steak: A boneless steak that is cut from an eye round roast. It’s usually used for stew meat or cube steaks.
Top Sirloin: This has the best texture of all of the beef cuts. Top sirloin is most commonly used to prepare roast beef or sliced London Broil. London Broil is not a cut of beef but your butcher will often substitute this name for top sirloin or top round.
Fillet of Beef: A fillet of beef is a long cylinder of meat which is surrounded by fat and a silver skin. When purchasing this cut, make sure your butcher trims all of the fat and the silver skin that surrounds this fillet. The skin, which has the texture of rubber, is very hard to chew. Most people have encountered this cut of beef on restaurant menus which feature center cut fillet steaks, such as Fillet Mignon and Chateaubriand.
When you purchase beef in your supermarket, look for cuts of meat that are a dark shade of pink. This will indicate a certain degree of freshness. Most cuts of beef can be stored in your refrigerator for 5 to 7 days without spoiling. The only exception to this is ground meat, which should be cooked within 24 hours of purchase. If you freeze cuts of beef, always double wrap them in plastic wrap and then wrap them again in aluminum foil. This will prevent the meat from becoming tough when you cook it.