Understanding the different steak cuts
DIFFERENT TYPES OF BEEF
The most commonly used types of beef are:
- Short plate
- The round
There are less common types that we won’t be discussing here, but they are:
Description: The chuck, also known as the seven-bone steak (in reference to the shape of the bone), is located near the shoulder and neck area of the cow.
Types: The chuck cut yields some of the more economical cuts of beef, such as the chuck roast, chuck arm roast, and the flat iron steak.
How to Cook: The chuck contains a significant amount of connective tissue, which contains collagen and can be a little tough, but provides great flavour.
Chuck cuts of beef are best cooked slowly over time with a crock pot or by braising.
ROUND OR RUMP
Description: The round, also known as the rump, is a lean cut of meat with very little fat. It is located at the back of the cow near the rear leg. Like the Shank, the round is a tough cut due to the constant use of the cow’s legs.
Types: Despite the round or rump’s toughness, it produces quite a few different cuts of meat that are quite popular. Some of the more common cuts are rump roast/steak, top round roast/steak, bottom round roast/steak, the eye of round roast/steak, and the sirloin tip centre roast/steak.
How to Cook: Round cuts are best braised or roasted with low levels of moisture.
Description: Brisket is cut from the breast or the lower portion of the cow. Like the shank, it has a lot of connective tissue and can be quite tough unless cooked properly.
Types: The brisket is known by two main cuts of meat: brisket flat cut and the brisket point cut.
How to Cook: Brisket is a favourite of BBQ’ers everywhere and is best cooked smoked or braised.
Description: The rib includes some of the finest cuts of the cow, and is the known for its juiciness, tenderness, superb marbling, and flavour. The rib cut refers to ribs 6 through 12 on the cow.
Types: The rib includes several of the finest cuts of the cow, including the prime rib, short rib, rib-eye steak, and rib-eye roasts.
How to Cook: Rib cuts are best cooked over dry heat and for long periods of time. American BBQ’ers favour grilling or smoking these tender cuts.
Description: The short plate is located on the front belly of the cow below the ribs. It contains a lot of cartilage and is kind of fatty and tough.
Types: It contains a few different cuts including the short ribs, hangar steak, and the skirt steak. It is best known for being used to make Carne Asada.
How to Cook: Best braised because of its toughness.
Description: The flank is a long flat cut from the abdominal muscles of the cow. It is one of the toughest cuts of meat.
Types: The flank is usually cut into flap steaks or flank steaks. It is typically used in Asian and Mexican cuisine as stir-fry or fajita beef. It can also be used in London broil.
How to Cook: Due to its excessive toughness, flank cuts are best cooked with moist methods like braising.
Description: The loin is cut from the back of the cow, typically a portion of the hindquarter directly behind the ribs. It is one of the most tender and desirable cuts of beef.
Types: The loin is best known for producing filet mignon, porterhouse steak, and the T-bone steak. However, it also contains the KC strip, tenderloin roast, and the shell steak.
How to Cook: Loin cuts are best cooked over dry heat such as on a grill.
Description: Sirloin is also cut from the back of the cow, just past the loin (a.k.a the short loin). Although, not as tender as the loin cuts, the sirloin is still a very popular tender cut of beef.
Types: The sirloin contains the top sirloin, bottom sirloin, and centre cut sirloin steaks, as well as the tri-tip steak, filet of sirloin, and the ball tip roast.
How to Cook: Sirloin is best cooked by grill, but can also be broiled, sautéed, or pan-fried.
Description: The shank is the leg of the cow and is one of the toughest meats. This is due to the fact that the leg muscle is constantly used, creating a tough, sinewy cut. Therefore, it is one of the less popular, but also one of the cheapest.
Types: The Shank doesn’t yield very many cuts of meat, just the shank or the shank cross cut. It is also used in very low-fat ratios of ground beef.
How to Cook: The shank is best cooked over a long period of time and in liquid. It is best in soups, stews, or to make beef stock.
Here is a nice video showing a butcher butchering an entire cow.