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Our Guide to Cuts of Beef

Beef can get a bad rap – which is why we’ve produced this buying guide to cuts of beef and what they can be used for, written by our professional chef, Jason.

It’s true that some cuts can be high in fat and it’s more calorific than other sources of high protein, but it is also packed with iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium, alongside vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12 and D. Other nutrients of interest include choline – essential for cell growth and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which can help reduce fat and build muscle.

Here’s Jason’s guide to the best cuts of beef and the most different types of beef to buy for different dishes.

If in doubt, find a good local butcher and ask their advice as well, rather than grabbing pre-packed beef from the cold aisles of the supermarket.

Organic Beef or Not? Which is best?

  1. Grass-fed beef: Naturally fertilise the land to grow more grass without adding extra carbon to the atmosphere. The meat contains higher levels of vitamins, conjugated linoleic acid (see right) and omega-3 fats.
  2. Organic beef: Organic means the animal was not given hormones, antibiotics or man-made pesticides in its feed – but it could be fed corn or soy. Grass-fed beef is often organic, but organic does not mean grass-fed.
  3. None-organic beef: May have been treated with hormones or pesticides. A Newcastle University study found that non-organic beef had higher levels of undesirable saturated fats such as myristic and palmitic acid and less poly-unsaturated and omega-3 fats.

Cuts of Beef

Outline of the different cuts of beef on a cow

FORE QUARTER CUTS

Ox cheek

This cut is succulent with incredible flavour and a rich and sticky texture. It’s a tough muscle so you should pre-marinade and cook low ’n’ slow to keep it tender.

Beef Brisket

The brisket is made up of two different muscles: the point and the flat. The point is the fatty part (the deckle). The flat has the deckle removed to make it leaner. Great flavour, if minced down and blended with other high VL fat cuts for a tasty burger patty. Beef brisket can also be cooked slowly in a stock, chilled and pressed for cold cuts.

Jacobs Ladder or short ribs

Magnificent, flavoursome cut, ideal for marinading then cooking low ’n’ slow in the braising liquor or over a low-heat high-smoke fire pit or smoker.

Feather blade (chuck)

One of the cornerstone cuts of beef for most burger blend recipes, chuck is versatile and can be used for quality mince, diced for casseroles/stews or flash fried as thin cut strip steaks.

Flat Iron Steak

The flat iron steak is one of the more well known cuts of beef, taken from a relatively tender muscle at the top of the shoulder. Traditionally used braising steak, it makes for a tasty grilled steak if cooked rare – but the outer hard membrane needs to be trimmed.

Jewish fillet

A lean tender cut of beef from the shoulder, ideal for braising as a whole or sliced. Minimal fats mean it can dry out in cooking, so be wary of that as you’re preparing the meat and planning out cooking times..

Fore rib

The fore rib comprises the first five bones of the loin and is an ideal roasting joint. Look for more marbling as this adds flavour and succulence to your dish. Don’t forget to rest it after cooking and before serving, so the texture is just right.

Carvery rib

A celebration or showpiece joint prepared by having the vertebrae removed from a ‘standing rib’ and leaving the remaining rib ‘fingers’ exposed. You see them in the butchers all the time as almost a showcase cut of beef, so you can’t miss it!

Roast on the bone for best flavour.

Côte de boeuf

Also known as fore rib steak, this French Brasserie favourite is deep cut on the bone through the rib, usually to serve two people. Pan seal and oven finish or chargrill.

Ribeye Steak

Considered one of the tastiest and most elegantly flavoured of steaks, rib-eyes are cut from the main muscle attached to the spine. Grill, pan fry, BBQ, cook medium to allow the fats to begin to render naturally.

Onglet

Also known as ‘hanger steak’ or ‘butcher steak’ this cut from the upper side of the belly skirt makes a great, affordable steal and is often what is used for steak frittes on the continent. As a skirt steak, it’s very popular and tasty too.

Bavette/flank steak

Cut from the long flank muscle, flank steak has great flavour but needs to be flash fried quickly and kept rare to medium or it will dry out and toughen up. A great cut of beef for your fajita night!

Mince or ground beef

Most mince is taken from the off-cuts or really hard-working, tough muscles, which is why we prefer to mince our own or to choose cuts and ask our local butcher to mince them on the spot. Ground beef can be used in a huge range of dishes. From stews to pastas, it’s versatile and tasty.

HIND QUARTER

Wing rib

The wing rib is sirloin left with the bone in for added flavour. As with cote de boeuf, this is usually served as a single portion, so the long beef bone tends to be split (sawn in half by the butcher) which allows the marrow to be roasted and eaten smothered across the meat.

T-Bone Steak or Porterhouse steak

Some consider this a sacrifice as it cuts into both the sirloin and fillet muscles which are joined together by the rib bone which is sawn through. The UK T-Bone steak tends to favour a smaller, tail-end fillet, the more American Porterhouse steak is a full-size fillet. Cook medium on a grill, pan or BBQ.

Sirloin steak

For many the archetypical steak due to it’s flavour, ease of cooking and availability – treat the same way as a rib-eye.

Fillet

The least working muscle means it has virtually no fat and is one of the more supremely tender cuts but has high value as there’s not much of it! Also known as tenderloin steak, beef loin steak or fillet mignon, it’s widely known as one of the most superior steak cuts of beef you can get.

Look for a fillet with dense marbling to retain moisture and flavour. Do not overcook – it really does spoil an excellent cut.

Chateaubriand

The head of the fillet muscle, where a split and fold back occurs naturally is usually served as a small carvery joint for two. As one more of the more tender cuts of beef, it’s an absolute must try for a special occasion.

New York strip/striploin

Cut from the short loin which does little work making for a tender meat. Short loin suits both a roast and a steak, so why not try out both? Speak to your local butcher about cooking times.

Minute steak

Thinly cut end of the sirloin tenderised with a cutlet bat or similar and flash fried.

Whole rump

The lower part of the back beyond the sirloin can be divided into the heart and the tail (the latter is the most tender and flavoursome). Can be left whole to have as a rump roast, or used as a steak where it is best cut thinly and flash fried not beyond medium.

Topside and silverside

These are cheaper cuts of beef than sirloin for Sunday roasts but can dry out quickly, which is why they often come with added fat. Both have multiple uses, including braising low ’n’ slow then cut thinly for sandwiches.

Salmon roll

A great cut attached to the silverside that is very lean. However, don’t feel put off from trying it yourself, if pan sealed and roasted then rested, it is easily carved and very tasty.

The Basics of Beef Cuts – Primal Cuts

Beef has been separated into large portions called primal cuts.

These meat cuts are divided further which are then cut for individual steak, roast joints and other products.

So, if you’re looking to expand your beef knowledge, the best place to start is by understanding your eight primal cuts of beef, which we’ve listed below:

  • Chuck
  • Rib
  • Loin
  • Round
  • Flank
  • Short Plate
  • Brisket
  • Beef Shank

Once you become familiar with your primal cuts, you’ll learn that the majority of the meat we’ve outlined above comes from one of these, simply is one of these primal cuts.

For example, the loin is home to the sirloin steak, while you’ll find your tenderloin fillet in the short loin, which is closer to the centre of the cow.

The main thing, is knowing which cuts of beef are best for which dishes. And, as we’ve outlined above, there are plenty to choose from.

Best Cuts of Beef for Steak

Ribeye Steaks

  • Location: Cut from the rib section, known for its marbling and tenderness.
  • Attributes: Ribeye is well-marbled with fat, providing a rich flavour and tender texture. The intramuscular fat melts during cooking, enhancing juiciness and creating a flavourful steak.

Filet Mignon

  • Location: From the tenderloin, a non-weight-bearing muscle.
  • Attributes: Filet mignon is prized for its exceptional tenderness and mild flavour. It has less marbling compared to other cuts, making it a leaner option while still offering a buttery texture.

Sirloin Steak:

  • Location: Cut from the sirloin, specifically the top loin.
  • Attributes: New York strip steaks are known for a balance of tenderness and flavour. With moderate marbling and a firmer texture compared to ribeye, it offers a satisfying meaty bite.

T-Bone Steak:

  • Location: Cut from the short loin, featuring both the strip and the tenderloin.
  • Attributes: The T-bone steak provides a combination of tenderness from the tenderloin side and robust flavour from the strip side. It’s essentially two steaks in one, offering a variety of textures and tastes.

Best Beef Cuts for Roasts

Chuck Roast:

  • Location: Cut from the shoulder area of the cow.
  • Attributes: Chuck roast is well-marbled and contains connective tissue, which makes it an excellent choice for slow-cooking methods like braising or roasting. The marbling contributes to flavour, while the connective tissue breaks down during cooking, resulting in a tender and delicious roast.

Brisket:

  • Location: Located on the breast or lower chest of the cow.
  • Attributes: Brisket is known for its rich, beefy flavour and significant marbling. It contains both the flat and point cuts, making it suitable for slow-cooking methods like smoking or braising. When cooked low and slow, brisket becomes tender and develops a distinctive, rich taste.

Rump Roast:

  • Location: Cut from the hind leg of the cow.
  • Attributes: Rump, or a Bottom Round roast is lean and less tender compared to other cuts. It’s often recommended for roasting at lower temperatures or as thinly sliced for dishes like roast beef sandwiches. Marinating or using a slow-cooking method can enhance its tenderness too, so why not give that a go.
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