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Know Your Cuts of Beef

Posted by Julia Smith on

Understanding the anatomy of beef goes a long way towards making sense of the many different cuts. The position of the muscle and the way it used, dictates in large part the preparation options for meat cut from that muscle. The harder a muscle is working... the stronger it is... the tougher the cut. These cuts often have the most flavour and when prepared properly, can also be the most delicious. Here is a breakdown of some of the more popular cuts and how to use them. 

Hind Leg

Sirloin Tip |  Tri-tip  |  Outside Round  |  Inside Round  |  Eye of Round

The part of the animal does a lot of work so the muscles are strong and tend to be tougher than other muscles that don't work as hard. The round muscles are best for slow roasting, stewing or grinding. If cut into steaks, they should be marinated to tenderize. The inside is the most tender of the rounds. The eye is the leanest. The sirloin tip is a very lean muscle best marinated or cooked quickly to medium rare that works well in a stir-fry. The tri-tip is a very lean cut from the sirloin muscle. Also known as the "poor man's prime rib" it is an excellent marinated & grilled or pan seared. 

Sirloin

Cap  |  Centre |  Baby

The Sirloin is found between the loin and the hind leg so it is a little tougher than the loin cuts. It is made up of 3 distinct muscles, each with different properties. The cap has a nice layer of fat and is good for grilling or frying. The centre is the traditional "sirloin steak." It is quite lean so marinates well and should not be overcooked. The baby is a small muscle and the most tender of the sirloin cuts. Cook quickly and not too much. All the sirloin cuts are good for grilling and pan frying. 

Rib/Loin

New York |  Ribeye  |  Tenderloin 

This part of the animal does the least amount of work so it produces the most tender cuts. Best cut into steaks and grilled quickly to no more than medium-rare. The tenderloin is very lean so be careful not to overcook. We recommend wrapping with bacon to keep it from drying out and because, well, bacon! 

Flap

Skirt  |  Bavette  |  Flank

Skirt and flank muscles are thin cuts and very flavourful but have tough fibres running through them. They marinate very well and are best grilled or pan fried quickly to rare or medium rare and sliced thinly against the grain with a sharp straight edge knife. Very popular as fajita meat. The bavette is a thicker cut with similar properties to the skirt an flank.

Chuck

The neck/shoulder is a strong group of muscles that works hard and as such, is best suited for slow cooking. Most of this muscle group is best ground or roasted slowly but there is one treasure hidden away here. The flat-iron is a very tender, flavourful cut of meat but has a thick piece of tough connective tissue running through the middle of it. Other than that, it is second only to the tenderloin in tenderness. A very versatile cut that can be cooked like any of the loin cuts or also makes a marvellous stir-fry or fajita meat.

Shanks

Upper leg sections of the beef. Wonderful braised (osso bucco) or can be boned out and ground.

Brisket

The Brisket is the breast muscle which includes the superficial and deep pectoral muscles. These muscles work very hard, supporting 60% of the weight of the animal. It has a significant amount of connective tissue so it requires long cooking time to tenderize it. Fantastic braised and great in stews and soups when cooked slow and low. Also makes great pastrami.

So now you know your cuts of beef! To keep learning, join our mailing list for a weekly email including recipes, news from the farm, upcoming events, and more:


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