What is Beef? A Comprehensive Guide
Beef is a rich and flavourful type of meat that has been enjoyed in many cultures around the world.
From classic steak dinners to slow-cooked roasts, there are myriad ways to enjoy this versatile protein source.
Learn more about what beef is, where it comes from, and how to select and prepare it.
Find out more with this guide!
Definition of Beef
By definition, beef is a type of meat that comes from cattle.
Beef can refer to the flesh of any age or gender of bovine, but it’s commonly used to describe the meat from adult cows.
This type of meat is commonly consumed around the world in various forms such as steaks, roasts, patties, and minced/ground beef.
The term “Beef” is used to collectively refer to a variety of cuts from many different body parts of cattle.
Thus, beef is a general term that includes different cuts like steaks, roasts, and minced/ground beef.
Calling meat “Beef” is an easier way to refer to an entire animal than having to specify each individual cut.
Types and Cuts of Beef
There are several types of cuts of beef, including chuck cut, sirloin cut, brisket cut, and round cut.
Each type is different in terms of texture and flavour and can be prepared in various ways such as grilling, frying, roasting and stewing.
The size of the cut will also determine how long it takes to cook the beef and the overall taste.
When selecting your cuts of beef, make sure to choose the right type for the recipe you’re preparing.
Nutrition Content of Beef
Beef is rich in essential vitamins and minerals, such as zinc, iron, selenium, phosphorus, and vitamin B6.
It also contains significant amounts of niacin, riboflavin, thiamin and vitamin B12.
Plus beef is a great source of protein and dietary fats which provide the body with energy.
Finally beef also contains some fibre for digestive health.
Cooking Method Basics for Beef
The three most popular cooking methods for beef are barbecue grilling, roasting, and pan-frying.
BBQ Grilling is by far the most common method for preparing beef. This involves placing cuts of beef on a grill over direct heat.
Roasting requires no fat or oil, and involves slowly cooked pieces of beef in an enclosed environment like an oven with added herbs and spices if desired.
Finally, pan-frying is the quickest cooking method of the three and requires adding some fat or oil to a skillet before placing the meat inside.
Serving Tips and Recipe Ideas for Beef
Beef is incredibly versatile and can be cooked in a range of ways to suit any recipe.
Whether you’re looking for the perfect dinner party dish or a quick and easy family meal, there are plenty of options.
Consider adding some Mediterranean flavours with rosemary and garlic, or an Asian twist to your dishes using soy sauce and ginger.
Alternatively, partner with fresh vegetables as sides for a simple but satisfying dinner. Delicious!
Global Guide to International Beef Cuts
Master the art of differentiating international beef cuts!
Looking to diversify your beef repertoire?
The world of international beef cuts offers something for every palate. Get to know the different cuts, plus helpful tips, with our global guide.
Beef can be broken down into many different parts, each with its own unique flavor and texture.
Depending on the country, certain cuts may be preferred over others, giving you new opportunities for exploring the world one bite at a time.
To understand the diverse cuts that exist today, it’s important to understand the anatomy of a cow: where exactly do each of these cuts come from?
American Beef Cuts
American beef cuts are broken up into eight distinct sections, each with its own cuts and characteristics.
These include chuck, rib, plate, brisket, shank/foreshank, flank, short loin, and round.
Some of the most popular American cuts include;
- Rib eye steaks from the rib section.
- Sirloin steaks from both the short loin and sirloin tip.
- Tenderloin from the short loin.
- Chuck steak or Roast from the chuck section.
- Brisket for barbecue styles.
- Flank steak for fajitas and stir-fries.
- Bottom Round Roast from the round section.
- Shank for slow-cooking methods.
Australian Beef Cuts
Australia produces some of the finest meat in the world, with a wide variety of cuts
There are many different types of beef cuts available from Australian cattle.
Depending on where it is from, the cut can be classified into four main categories, stewing, roasting, quick-cooking and grilling.
These cuts include;
- Steaks such as sirloin.
- T-bone and Porterhouse.
- Roast beef cuts such as chuck eye roll and topside.
- Casserole cuts such as blade steak and oyster blade.
- Cubed beef for stir-fries or stews.
- Ground beef for burgers.
New Zealand Beef Cuts
New Zealand beef is known for its tenderness and flavour.
New Zealand produces a variety of different beef cuts, including;
- Short ribs.
- T-bone steaks.
- Rump steaks.
- Sirloin steaks.
Specialty cuts such as gourmet steaks and minute steak are also produced in the country.
Additionally, chuck steak and blade steak are two popular roasting cuts that can be found in New Zealand.
Chinese Beef Cuts
Beef cuts in China vary widely, but one major way of categorizing is based on the texture and taste most commonly associated with each cut.
- Huai Yang meat – which is a marbled beef generally used for steaks and roasts.
- Qing Chunyan and Zhu Yan are lean cuts suitable for making soups.
- Pai Gu Li contains soft and wet fat layers, prized among braised dishes.
- San Hei Yao Wang indicates tougher, visceral membranes popularly served as hotpot entrees.
- Yu Mi Rou includes the thinner strips, used for stir-fries and stir-fried beef tendons.
Italian Beef Cuts
In Italy, the main beef cuts include;
- Spallacci – a leathery cut with an intense flavour, typically served as steaks.
- Muscolo – a soft, juicy and tender cut suitable for many recipes.
- Fesa al Cavolo– an especially tasty but slightly fatty cut perfect for roasts and stews.
- Branzino–a lean cut ideal for thin-sliced, grilled steaks.
- Quarto Trasversale – great in carpaccio or stir-fries, this is a large piece of meat from the hindquarters.
Japanese Beef Cuts
When it comes to beef in Japan, the most popular cuts are;
- Sōsu – perfect for grilling.
- Sute-goku – a tender cut ideal for sukiyaki and shabu-shabu dishes.
- Tan– great for roasting or braising.
Japan also has Wagyu beef, famed for its marbling fat which gives an intense flavour unlike any other type of beef.
Some restaurants also serve meat from A-5 grade cows fed on sake lees and beer grains, creating an ultra-rich flavour.
The Different Cuts of Beef and Their Uses
Beef is one of the most popular meats in the world, used in dishes from all over the globe.
From steak to roasts, burgers to mincemeat, this versatile meat comes in a variety of cuts with different flavor and texture profiles.
Learn more about different beef cuts and discover how it can be used to create delicious meals.
Chuck cuts are often used to make roasts and steaks, as they contain connective tissues which get tender during slow cooking.
This cut is from the shoulder of the cow, so they tend to be tougher than other cuts of meat and is a good choice when you want a low-cost yet flavourful cut of meat.
It’s full of marbling, which is fat interspersed throughout the muscle tissue giving it plenty of flavor.
This cut is best marinated or braised slowly over a low heat on the stovetop or in an oven so that it becomes tender and juicy.
These cuts are most often cooked using moderate-heat methods such as braising or stewing and are great for making pot roasts, stews, and casseroles.
Chuck roast comes from the shoulder area of the cow and is full of rich fatty flavors that make it ideal for slow-cooking methods such as braising or stewing.
When cooked properly, chuck roast can yield incredibly tender and deliciously juicy results that makes it an all-time favorite when it comes to roast cuts.
Short ribs are cut from the rib and plate primals, just behind the front shoulder area of the cow.
They are a delicious yet hearty cut taken off the bone connected to them.
Once you remove these bones though, you’re left with succulent pieces perfect for slow cooking into an intensely flavourful meal.
Their high fat content makes them well-suited for braising, slow roasting, or frying.
Short ribs have a robust and beefy flavor and can be used as stand-alone cuts or in large pieces for roasts.
Flat Iron Steaks;
Known as butlers’ steak (UK), feather blade steak (UK) or oyster blade steak (Australia and New Zealand) is a cut of steak cut with the grain from the chuck, or shoulder of the animal.
This steak is becoming increasingly popular and has been referred to as one of the “new” super-tender steaks.
It is a lean cut that contains excellent marbling, giving it a juicy flavour and tender texture compared to most other lean beef options.
Flat Iron steaks are best served cooked medium-rare to medium, with short cooking times at high heat recommended.
Sirloin steaks are cuts of steak taken from the back end of the cow, near its hip.
They are generally more leaner than rib-eye, offering more flavour and a more tender texture.
Sirloin steaks can be cooked a variety of ways, including barbecue grilling, searing, roasting or under the gril/broiling.
Try using slightly gentler cooking methods so you don’t overcook them, pan-frying or baking rather than charring over an open fire for instance, but still using fast methods so those hearty flavours remain intact!
They are best served medium-rare to medium, with short cooking times at high heat recommended.
Sirloin Tip Roast;
Sirloin tip roast comes from the loin region – located in between chuck rib eye roles – so you know you are getting quality flavour no matter what!
It works great when grilled over medium heat or roasted until just moderately rare since overcooking will cause this cut to become tough and unappealing.
If you’re looking for a flavourful but leaner alternative without sacrificing any flavours, try sirloin tip roast next time!
Tenderloin steak cuts come from either side of spine near the back end on both sides near the rib area in small prime cuts.
Tenderloin steak is one of your more expensive cuts but also one of your tenderest meats due to its low amount of connective tissue compared to other beef cuts;
It has a mild flavour and can be seasoned with a variety of spices and herbs to make it more flavourful.
Commonly cooked by grilling or roasting, but it’s also ideal for quickly searing on high heat methods such as those restaurant-style charred
outsides with pink interiors so beloved by foodies everywhere!
Ribeye steak comes from the rib section of the cow just behind the chuck roast and it makes the most decadent steaks.
The combination of its high fat content and marbling gives it intense flavour.
A ribeye should be cooked using a hot cooking method such as grilling or pan-searing to bring out its complex flavours without drying out and toughening up too much during cooking.
Bottom Round Roast;
This is also known as Eye round roast and is called beef silverside in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.
The bottom round roast comes from the rump area of the cow, making it a great economical cut of beef.
It is an economical alternative when it comes to roasts as it’s typically one of the most inexpensive cuts to buy.
It offers leaner results than some other roasts, however, its mild flavour tends to lack in comparison with those cuts.
It has a mild beefy flavour and is best cooked low and slow to make sure it stays tender and juicy.
To get the best taste out of this cut, make sure to use your favourite seasonings before cooking!
Bottom round roast is perfect for roasting in the oven or slow cooking in a crockpot.
Brisket is one of the more flavourful roasts due to its high fat content, making it an excellent choice for smoking. braising or slow-roasting in a low oven temperature or stovetop.
This highly marbled cut normally includes parts of the forequarter which makes its texture quite different than other roasts.
When cooked right you can expect briskets hearty flavour reminiscent of fine steakhouse fare!
Rump roast has recently become quite popular among home cooks given its affordability and robust flavour profile
It is perfect for long slow cooking that heightens its natural juices as well as creates incredible mouthfeel during each bite!
Rump roast also transitions between dry rubs/seasonings nicely while keeping moisture content at bay.
If you’re looking for something juicy yet subtle go with rump!
FAQ About Beef
How Long Does Beef Last In The Fridge?
Raw beef can last up to 3-5 days if properly stored in the fridge.
It should be fresh, then wrapped securely and placed on the lowest shelf, away from any other food items, to avoid cross contamination.
Be sure to smell and inspect it before cooking or eating.
How Long Can You Keep Raw Beef in the Freezer?
Raw beef can last up to 6 months in your freezer if stored properly.
Be sure to wrap it tightly and store it at 0°F (-18°C) or lower.
Ground beef can last up to 3 months before freezing, while steaks can last up to 12 months.
Is Brown Beef Still Safe to Eat?
While discoloured beef may have an off-putting appearance, it is still safe to eat if stored properly.
Fresh raw beef can be bright red to dark brown or even black depending on its age and oxidation.
The colour of raw beef should not be a signifier of whether the meat is spoiled, but rather the smell and texture of the meat.
Why Is Beef Not Called Cow?
The term “beef” is used to refer specifically to meat from bovines, especially cattle.
While cows are a type of bovine, so are bulls, steer, heifers and calves.
Because beef can come from any of these animals, the terms ‘beef’ and ‘cow’ are not interchangeable.
The name “beeF” actually comes from the Old French word boef, which refers to all bovine animals, regardless of gender or species.
Therefore, beef can technically refer to any type of cattle meat, including veal and buffalo.