What is the difference between cuts of beef?
Is a striploin the same as a sirloin? Are a filet mignon and a tenderloin different? Which cut is the most tender? Knowing the difference between cuts of beef means you can get the right cut for your recipe and your palette, every time.
Overview of Beef Cuts
There are 8 main cuts of beef. Those 8 cuts get further divided into the specific cuts you are probably used to ordering online. Even if you aren’t familiar with the specific cut, knowing the general region your cut comes from can give you a clue as to taste and tenderness.
A quick way to determine tenderness: a steer’s most used muscles are its legs, and its neck. Anything cut from those regions is likely to be tougher than cuts from the centre.
The Chuck Cuts
The chuck cuts come from the shoulder, a well used muscle. These cuts can be tough, but with long, slow cooking methods they can also be incredibly flavourful.
How to cook: slow cook, braise, stew
Look for: Ground chuck, chuck roast
The Rib Cuts
These tender cuts make up (not surprisingly) the ribs and backbone. There is usually lots of delicious, flavourful fat marbling. One of the most popular cuts for steak lovers who enjoy a tender texture full of rich flavour is the ribeye.
How to cook: Dry-heat cooking, grill, pan-sear
Look for: ribeye steaks, cowboy steaks
The Brisket Cuts
Although brisket comes from the breast, a muscle that gets a lot of action, if cooked properly it is actually one of the most delicious, melt-in-your-mouth beef experiences! Tenderize with a rub, and cook it low and slow for a mind-blowing taste.
How to cook: slow cook, smoke, braise
Look for: brisket
The Loin Cuts
Located at the top of the steer, behind the rib, these cuts are known for being intensely tender. The loin cuts are divided into two types: shortloin, and sirloin, based on the location.
Since this is a point of confusion for even seasoned steak lovers, it is worth noting that the filet mignon is a steak cut from the smaller end of the tenderloin roast – so essentially, filet mignon and tenderloin are one and the same.
Popular sirloin cuts: sirloin steak
How to cook: Dry-heat cooking, grill, pan-sear, roast
The Other Cuts
Short Plate: These cuts are from the front belly of the cow, just below the ribs. Cut against the grain and braise to get the most out of these tougher cuts like skirt steak and short ribs.
Shank: The meat from the forearm is one of the toughest cuts, which makes it perfect for soups and stews.
Flank: This lean cut from below the loin is flavourful but tough, best marinated before grilling.
Round: These lean rump cuts, like eye of round and sirloin tip, are best roasted, sliced thin and against the grain.
How To Choose Your Cut of Beef
Some beef lovers prefer a steak so tender they don’t need a knife, like a filet mignon. Some like a bit of chew to their meat. Some prefer the richer beef flavour a ribeye offers.
Before you decide on a cut, ask yourself:
How are you cooking your beef?
- Low and slow? Go with a tougher cut, like chuck or brisket, that will benefit from the tenderizing
- Grilling? A more tender cut like a striploin or a ribeye does well with high, dry heat
Ultimately, though, what cut of beef you prefer comes down to your own preferences. As long as you buy beef online from a reputable provider that has been raised naturally and aged perfectly, you can’t really go wrong with any cut you choose.
(Hint: All Farm2Fork beef comes from quality small-scale farmers, and is wet or dry aged for the ultimate taste and texture.)
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