Cuts of Beef
The quality of beef depends on the feeding of the animal, the age at which it is slaughtered and the handling of the meat. Although the very best beef goes to restaurants and fancy butchers, it is possible to choose good cuts of beef in the supermarket.
In the color, look for bright pink-red flesh, light-colored bones, and creamy-white fat.
In texture, look for fine flesh, soft looking bones, and crumbly suet or exterior fat.
The best beef-the kind that is served in top-notch steak restaurants has a delicate network of fat running through the flesh. This is known as "marbling" which dissolves during cooking, providing the internal basting.
Since tender and less tender cuts have about the same food values, it is good to be able to recognize and use a variety of beef cuts. Then you can experiment with recipes and take advantage of sales and specials.
The Cow and The Beef Cuts
Tender beef, like the tenderloin roast and steak, is cooked dry for short periods of time, while tougher cuts, like chuck, round and brisket need slower moist cooking.
Stew beef is a cut from small pieces and ends of the less tender roasts. The stew beef should have some bone in it to add sweetness and moisture, but for some reason it is not packaged this way. Get 1 pound of short rib to every 2 pounds of chuck or combine 2 packages of supermarket stew beef with 1 package of soup bones and you will make an old-fashioned beef stew of surprising quality.
As for the all American hamburger, it is in fact made up of almost any part of the steer. I remember my mother used to buy whole cuts of meat and watch as the butcher ground it to order.
I fear meat markets are a part of the past, too bad, but if you can find one make friends with the butcher out back that cuts the meat. Even if you shop regularly in a supermarket, get to know the butcher. If you have a food processor, it is simple to buy cuts of beef and grind your own, That way you know exactly what is in your hamburger.
Except for people on special diets, some fat is needed in the meat to give it flavor and hold it together.
20 percent of hamburger should be fat. Too much fat, on the other hand, simply melts away, wasting flavor and money.