The quality of beef is dependent on a variety of factors such as the age, breed, and sex of the animal and the hanging, storing, and cutting up of the joints.
Alberton Record asks if it’s worth seeking out a butcher who supplies the sort of beef you like.
Neck and clod
Neck and clod are usually cut into pieces and sold as stewing “steak” or as mince. These pieces have a longer cooking time than other cuts of beef, but they deliver more taste. They are excellent for casseroles thanks to the rich flavours and smooth texture from the collagen, fat, bone, and marrow.
Fore rib is a wonderful roasting joint which can be bought on the bone or deboned and rolled. The fore rib, which consists of the first five bones of the loin, has marbled fat running through the meat, which intensifies the flavour and ensures that the beef is kept tender through the cooking process.
Wing rib is a popular roasting joint that can be roasted on the bone or deboned. It can also be sliced and grilled or fried.
Sirloin is a tender and delicious cut of beef. It is sold on the bone or deboned and rolled with or without the fillet, for roasting. The fillet is the smaller “eye” on the inside of the rib bone, which is usually removed. It is sold in slices as fillet steak or whole.
Sirloin steaks are cut from the sirloin where the T-bone, porterhouse and club steaks are cut. The sirloin is actually divided into several types of steak. The top sirloin is the most prized of these and is specifically marked for sale under that name.
A triangular shaped lean muscle from the loin, which may be whole or cut into narrow steaks. It can be a tougher cut and lends itself just as much to slow braising and roasting as grilling. When it appears as a Brazilian Picanha, it has a thick cap of fat over the top.
Chuck and blade
Blade steak, sometimes called top blade, is a steak cut from a muscle in the beef chuck primal cut, specifically the top blade muscle. The chuck primal cut can be divided into two sections – the chuck roll and the chuck shoulder clod.
Chuck and blade steak is a large, fairly lean cut of high-quality meat that can be removed from the bone and sold as “chuck-steak”. It is also suitable for braising (fry to seal in juices and then stew slowly covered), stewing and pie fillings.
Thick flank (top rump)
Thick flank (top rump) is a lean cut suitable for roasting, pot roasting and braising or, when sliced, for braising and frying. Minute steaks can be cut from a variety of muscles, usually the thick flank, but these are taken from the top rump.
Thin flank is ideal for braising and stewing. It is often salted or pickled and frequently sold as minced meat, but it can also be cut into steaks.
This long flat steak is taken from a single muscle beneath the loin in the abdominal. Because they’re practically free of fat and connective tissue, they require little trimming. Flank steaks are full of flavour, extremely versatile and easy to prepare. The distinctive coarse grain that runs along the length is porous, so they generously soak up rubs and marinades. Carve flank steak thinly across the grain.
Silverside is traditionally salted and boiled in stock. Uncooked salted beef is grey, but turns pink during cooking. Recently, it is more often cooked as a roast, but because it is lean, it needs constant basting.
Brisket, sold either on the bone or deboned and rolled, is suitable for braising or boiling and is often sold salted. It is often served cold.
Short ribs are ideal in stews. Thin and thick ribs, usually sold deboned and rolled, are ideal for braising and pot roasting.
Rump is an excellent large lean and tender cut, sold in slices for grilling, frying and braaiing. It can also be cooked whole as a roast or cut into cubes and skewered as in the case of Portuguese Espetada.
Topside, a lean cut of beef, with little or no fat, is often sold with a layer of fat tied around it. It can be roasted or pot roasted.
Steaks are slices of the most tender cuts of meat, such as fillet, sirloin, rump, T-bone and porterhouse.
Shin or shank (foreleg) and leg (hindleg) are lean meat cuts with a high proportion of connective tissue. Sliced, it is suitable for stews, casseroles, stock, soup and brawn.