What Is Beef?
Beef is the culinary name for meat from cattle.
It is categorised as red meat — a term used for the meat of mammals, which contains higher amounts of iron than chicken or fish.
Usually eaten as roasts, ribs, or steaks, beef is also commonly ground or minced. Patties of ground beef are often used in hamburgers.
Processed beef products include corned beef, beef jerky, and sausages.
Fresh, lean beef is rich in various vitamins and minerals, especially iron and zinc. Therefore, moderate intake of beef can be recommended as part of a healthy diet.
Have you seen U.S. style cuts of meat appearing on the supermarket shelves recently and wonder these where beef cuts come from?
What are they?
You have probably noticed in the beef cut maps above that there is a huge difference between Australia, New Zealand & Britains beef cuts and the US cuts.
Beef cuts don’t have to be intimidating.
It’s not that the cuts of beef have different names in the two places, it’s that they are different cuts of meat.
Beef cuts can be generally categorised according to the part of the cow they come from,
- Breast and flank
- Middle back
Different cuts of beef lend themselves to different styles of cooking.
So knowing which cooking method is best suited for particular cuts enhances the tenderness of the meat and the overall flavour of the dish.
Chuck is both tasty and economical, but needs to be cooked slowly to break down the muscle fibres and make it more tender.
Chuck steak or diced chuck is best suited to slow-cooked casseroles.
Another versatile cut with delicious flavour, Clod/Chuck is one of the eight primal cuts and consists of the shoulder area of the cow.
Cuts from the chuck/clod include Chuck, Clod, Flat Iron Steak, Blade Steak (Bone-In), Chuck Eye Roll Steak, Shoulder Roast or Diced.
Blade is the muscle that sits on the shoulder.
Blade cuts, such as oyster blade steak and minute steak, are well suited to stir-frying or pan-frying.
Beef shin, also referred to as the shank, is a cut of beef taken from the lower leg of a steer.
A well-flavoured cut, it is sold as bone-in or boneless medallion-shaped pieces of meat.
When cooked slowly, its gristle will turn into jelly giving it a wonderful rich beef flavour.
Due to the large amount of connective tissue, it can be very tough, but when slow-cooked it will fall off the bone.
The flat iron is nestled into a tender area of the shoulder and is part of the chuck, so it’s an exception to the rule that shoulder steaks are always tough.
Plus it’s cheap.
Flat iron steak (US), butlers’ steak (UK), or oyster blade steak (Australia and New Zealand) is a cut of steak cut with the grain from the shoulder of the animal.
This produces a flavourful cut that is a bit tough because it contains a gristly fascia membrane unless removed.
This cut of steak is from the shoulder of a beef animal.
It is located adjacent to the heart of the shoulder clod, under the seven or paddle bone (shoulder blade or scapula).
The steak may be displayed in some butcher shops and meat markets as a “top blade” roast.
Breast and flank cuts
Brisket is cut from the lower chest and is quite tough, because the muscle supports the weight of the cow.
Brisket is prone to being quite fatty, so should be trimmed prior to cooking.
Due to the large amount of connective tissue in this cut, it is best suited to long, slow cooking.
In America a brisket primal cut with Deckle/point and Flat still attached is called colloquially as a “Packers cut”,
In Australia however, this terminology is not used.
It is just called by its industry name and that is a whole brisket with flat and point/deckle connected.
There are two parts to a brisket
Being a well exercised muscle, the point end has a high degree of connective tissue and is best suited to slow wet cooking methods such as braising and casseroling.
This beef cut is perfect for shredding as it literally pulls apart when cooked.
The Navel End is more square shaped than the point end brisket and slices up more neatly.
Same as the point end brisket, this cut needs to be cooked low and slow.
Skirt / Flank
Known as Flank (UK/AUS/NZ), London Broil (US), Bavette (FR).
Skirt steak, also known as flank steak, is a long, flat cut of beef that is considered to be one of the cheapest and toughest cuts but has lots of flavour.
It can be grilled, pan-fried, broiled, stir fryed or braised for increased tenderness.
The flank steak is a beef steak cut from the abdominal muscles or buttocks of the cow.
You can quickly spot this steak by its flat oval shape and its long, clearly defined grain.
Grain (meat fibre) is very apparent in flank steaks, and many chefs cut across the grain to make the meat more tender.
Flank steak is best when it has a bright red color.
It is frequently used in Asian cuisine, often sold in Chinese markets as “stir-fry beef”.
Flap meat is derived from the internal flank plate and is a thick, fleshy portion of the meat.
Sometimes called flap steak, flap meat is can be used to BBQ, broil or as Cheese Steak or Fajitas.
Ribs are typically purchased as a standing rib roast, rib cutlets or short ribs.
They have quite a high fat content and are one of the more difficult cuts to trim.
They are well suited to pan-frying, grilling or oven roasting, in the case of a rib roast.
Short ribs should be slow-cooked.
Rib eye, also known as Scotch fillet – which is rib eye off the bone – comes from the rib area and is suited to both grilling and pan-frying.
Rib steak which has bone in or rib eye which is boneless, is same cut of meat with different names because of bone being removed.
A rib eye steak’s abundant internal fat melting into the meat creates one of the juiciest steak-eating experiences imaginable.
The rib eye or ribeye (also known as Scotch fillet in Australia and New Zealand) is a beef steak from the rib section.
In some areas, and outside the U.S., the terms are often used interchangeably.
The term “cowboy ribeye” or “cowboy cut” is often used in American restaurants for a bone-in rib eye.
The rib eye or “ribeye” was originally, as the name implies, the center best portion of the rib steak, without the bone.
In Australia, “ribeye” is used when this cut is served with the bone in. With the bone removed, it is called “Scotch fillet”.
It is both flavourful and tender, coming from the lightly worked upper rib cage area.
Its marbling of fat makes it very good for fast and hot cooking so is suitable for bbq, grilling and pan-frying.
Middle back cuts
Sirloin / Porterhouse / New York strip
Sirloin/Porterhouse/New York strip are considered to be the finest of the beef steaks.
They are typically marbled and contain a layer of outside fat, which can be trimmed, and are well suited to grilling or pan-frying.
The sirloin is situated in the hindquarter of the animal.
Whatever the various steaks are called – whether it be Sirloin Steak, Porterhouse Steak, New York Strip or Striploin Steak, they’re all the same cut of beef and they’re all boneless.
A New York strip is a relatively lean cut with a firmer texture than a rib eye or filet mignon, but the flavour is great.
The strip steak, also called a New York strip or a Kansas City strip steak (USA), or a sirloin steak (AU/NZ), is a cut of beef steaks from the short loin.
It consists of a muscle that does little work, the longissimus, making the meat particularly tender, though not as tender as the nearby rib eye or tenderloin.
Fat content of the strip is somewhere between the two cuts.
Unlike the tenderloin, the short loin is a sizable muscle, allowing it to be cut into larger portions.
In New Zealand and Australia, it is known as a porterhouse steak or sirloin steak.
In Canada, most meat purveyors refer to this cut as a strip loin.
Eye Fillet / Tenderloin
Fillet / tenderloin is leaner than sirloin, with little external fat.
It is the most tender cut and retains its tenderness even when cooked to well-done.
Filet Mignon is a cut from the small end of the tenderloin and is usually the most expensive cut by weight.
It’s suited to grilling, stir-frying and pan-frying.
Tenderloin is known as an eye fillet in Australia & NZ, filet in France, and fillet in the United Kingdom and South Africa.
Tenderloin itself lies right under the back bone as is the most tender steak on the cow, because there is no movement of any part of it,
therefore it lies there doing nothing therefore is the most tender cut of meat that cows have to offer.
It is very versatile and can be roasted whole, or steaks can be sautéed, broiled, or grilled, all with excellent results.
Cuts of beef here include Tenderloin, Tenderloin Butt and Tenderloin Centre Cut Steak.
The T-bone are steaks of beef cut from the sirloin or short loin.
T-bone steak has fillet on one side of the T-shaped bone and sirloin on the other.
It is well suited to pan-frying or grilling.
Owing to their large size and the fact that they contain meat from two of the most prized cuts of beef, the sirloin/short loin and the tenderloin,
they are are generally considered one of the highest quality steaks, and prices at restaurants are accordingly high.
Silverside is the most popular cut for corned beef.
It is a fairly lean cut of meat with little or no marbling or fat.
It is not the most tender of cuts but it’s an acceptable and economical roast.
Best when slow-cooked.
Topside sits on the inside of the hindquarters and top of the leg – and for that reason is also referred to as the ‘inside’.
It is extremely lean and therefore makes an excellent mince or schnitzel meat.
Rump steak/rump roast is well regarded for its flavour but can be tough if not cooked properly.
Rump steak tastes best when pan-fried or grilled and is also suited to oven roasting or braising.
A whole rump can produce a range of cuts including roasts, steaks, a rump cap, pillow steak and eye rump.
Rump caps can be sliced into portions which resemble more expensive sirloins.
Round and Knuckle
Round cuts are sourced from the rear leg of the cow.
A frequently used muscle, the meat from this area is lean but tough.
Cuts include Round Steak, Round and Beef Strips.
Round and knuckle runs lengthways down the leg and stops just above the knee.
Because it is a working muscle, it is quite tough so needs to be cooked slowly to get the best results.
A tri-tip is an American cut taken from the sirloin area.
It’s not so much a steak as it is a skinny roast, but you can grill it like a thick steak.
It is a cut of meat that you either cook extremely quickly or very slowly. Just don’t overcook it.
It makes awesome fajitas (fast) and works well in the smoker (very slow).
Tri-tip in Australia is left as a part of two different cuts – the rump and the round.
When butchers break up a beef carcase, the rump and the round are split, leaving part of the tri-tip on both parts.
Roast Beef Cooking Tips
How to roast beef perfectly & exactly how you like it.
- For best results, always take your meat out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour before roasting.
This will help to ensure that your joint roasts evenly and stays tender.
- When it comes to your roast beef cooking temperatures it is important that the oven is always be preheated.
- When putting in the oven, ensure any fat on the joint is on top.
This will ensure that the fat drips down and bastes itself whilst roasting.
- Cook roast in the centre of the oven for best results.
- Use your meat thermometer to test your cut’s final internal temperature.
- Once cooked, allow to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes before slicing.
This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.
Cover the joint with a tent of aluminium foil or wrap in a tea towel.
- Remember to remove your roast just before you reach the temperature goal, as it will continue to cook while resting.
- Make gravy with the Au jus right out of the roasting tin after you have removed the meat to rest.
- For best results, carve into slices by cutting against the grain.