COM­MON CUTS

Beef is cut into large pri­mal or whole­sale cuts af­ter slaugh­ter, then brought to the butch­ers to be cut into smaller re­tail por­tions.

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Chuck (Shoul­der)

This leaner cut lies be­tween the neck and the shoul­der blade, which yields re­tail cuts like blade steak, chuck steak, chuck eye steak, shoul­der steak and, most com­monly, chuck ten­der, cut into cubes for brais­ing or stew­ing. It is an in­ex­pen­sive cut as it can be a lit­tle tough but of­fers good flavour. With a good meat-to­fat ra­tio, it is great for mak­ing burg­ers.

Brisket

From the un­der­side of the fore­quar­ter, brisket is rich in flavour but tends to be less ten­der. It yields other cuts in­clud­ing point cut brisket and flat cut. The lat­ter is less fatty and of­ten used for mak­ing braised beef brisket. The layer of fat on the brisket is usu­ally kept to en­hance the flavour of the dish.

Rib

From the sixth to 12th rib of the cow, this pri­mal cut of­fers some of the best re­tail cuts in­clud­ing short ribs, rib roasts and rib­eye steak. Rib­eye— which also goes by the name of Scotch steak—gives a rich, juicy, ex­cel­lently flavoured steak as it is ringed by a layer of fat, with gen­er­ous mar­bling within the meat. It is also only a lit­tle less ten­der than the ten­der­loin. In its un­cut form, the rib­eye is known as a rib roast (prime rib). Due to its mar­bling, it is per­fect for grilling and roast­ing as well as cooked as a steak.

Skirt

From un­der the ribs to the back of the brisket. A unique cut, it is of­ten mar­i­nated first and grilled. It is gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity as a steak for its juici­ness and flavour, and it helps that it’s an in­ex­pen­sive cut too.

Sir­loin

A mus­cled cut from the back of the an­i­mal and con­tains the top, bot­tom and cen­ter cut sir­loin. Tri-tip steak also comes from this sec­tion. Rel­a­tively lean with some mar­bling, sir­loin can be chewier and less ten­der than those from the loin and rib. When buy­ing sir­loin steak, ask for ’top sir­loin steak’, which comes with a mid-sized pin bone, or the long, flat part of the hip bone. This cut is best grilled or pan-fried to re­lease the fat which then melts and coats the rest of the steak. Mar­i­nate it to ten­derise.

Flank

One of the tough­est cuts, the flank is a long flat cut from the belly mus­cle of the cow. Con­tain­ing lit­tle fat, it is usu­ally sliced thinly and mar­i­nated to ten­derise be­fore stir-fry­ing or grilling. This is of­ten used in Asian stir-fries or turned into Mex­i­can fa­ji­tas.

Bot­tom Round

This is the hind sec­tion of the an­i­mal, specif­i­cally from the out­side thigh, which yields re­tail cuts like cube steak, eye of the round, top round and rump steak. Gen­er­ally lean, this part of the an­i­mal is tough­ened by ex­er­cise, and as a re­sult, is less ten­der. For the same rea­son though, some feel it gives the best com­bi­na­tion of tex­ture and flavour. This is best cooked over longer pe­ri­ods and un­der lower tem­per­a­tures, us­ing cook­ing meth­ods such as stew­ing, brais­ing or slow roast­ing.

Shank

From the leg of the cow, the shank is greatly ex­er­cised in life, and as a re­sult, is a lean, tough and there­fore cheap cut. It is of­ten minced, or cooked over long pe­ri­ods.

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