CHOOSING THE PERFECT CUT
June 20, 2011 | Peggy Martin
Ok, I admit it. Most of the time when planning a meal I start with the protein food. I think this is a carryover from growing up on a farm and having a freezer full of homegrown beef, pork and chicken to choose from. The type of meat and how it will be prepared (grilled, broiled, oven roasted, pot roasted, stewed, etc.) effects the rest of the meal. My mom taught us the importance of matching the cooking method to the cut of meat. I didn’t make the mistake of turning a great rump roast into a pot roast more than a couple times.
Where on the animal the cut of meat comes from, how long it is cooked and whether you use moist or direct heat effect juiciness and tenderness. When a cut of meat is from a more used muscle (the fore and hind quarters of the animal), the stronger and, therefore, tougher the cut of meat will be. The longer meat is cooked, the more liquid it loses, and the tougher it becomes. Other factors that also influence tenderness and juiciness are the animal’s age at slaughter and the amount of fat.
My kids didn’t have the benefit of a freezer filled with different cuts of meat when they started cooking, so they are less prepared to match up the cooking methods with cuts. They also have questions about how many servings per pound you can get from different cuts of meat (this varies by the amount of bone and fat there is).
The Beef-It’s What’s For Dinner web site has a pull down tab on the home page called Shopping for Beef where you can find several great resources you might want to bookmark. The Interactive Beef Case lets you choose a beef cut then tells you the recommended cooking method plus recipes using that cut.