Mississippi Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner
Know the best cuts of beef for your favorite recipes.
Thanks to America’s beef producers, there are beef choices to satisfy every taste, schedule and budget. Choosing the right cut doesn’t have to be confusing. The Mississippi Beef Council provides an excellent guide to help you find the best cut for your needs, whether it’s for a weeknight family dinner or a special celebration. Above all, matching the correct beef cut to the appropriate cooking method is the key to moist, tender and flavorful beef. Using the right cut is not only crucial to making sure your beef dishes are tasty and delicious, it also goes a long way in helping you keep your grocery budget in check.
Lean beef gives you 10 essential nutrients needed for a healthy, active lifestyle without sacrificing taste. A typical 3-ounce serving of lean beef is only 180 calories and is an excellent source of five nutrients and a good source of five additional nutrients.
Ground Beef Fresh ground beef is one of beef’s most versatile options – great for casseroles, burgers, soups, and sauces. Make sure you purchase by the “sell by” date on the package label and use within 2 days if you don’t freeze. Remember, burgers should be cooked to a higher temperature than a steak or roast. 160° is the optimal temperature for safe and savory ground beef.
Steak Most tender steaks come from the center (rib and loin sections) of the animal and are usually cooked by dry-heat methods. You can find tender steaks in a variety of prices.
Premium steaks, such as strip (top loin), T-Bone, Porterhouse, ribeye, rib and tenderloin, usually have a higher price per pound, but cuts such as ranch (shoulder center), top sirloin, flat iron (shoulder top blade), chuck eye and round tip are less expensive, and a good choice for family meals.
Less-tender steaks benefit most from moist-heat cooking. These cuts include full-cut round, eye round and bottom round; chuck shoulder, chuck arm and chuck blade; flank and skirt. Some of these less tender cuts, including top round steak, may be cooked with dry heat after tenderizing in a marinade.
Oven Roasts A roast is a cut of beef, thicker than two inches, that is suitable for cooking by dry heat on a rack in a shallow open pan in the oven or in a covered grill (indirect heat).
Premium oven roasts, including rib, ribeye, top loin and tenderloin are typically more costly, but ideal for holiday entertaining and other special occasions.
For everyday family meals, casual gatherings, and for the health-conscious, the round and bottom sirloin cuts are leaner and economical. Moderately priced roasts include tri-tip, round tip, rump, bottom round and eye round.
1½ cups of beans has two times more calories than a 3-ounce serving of lean beef.
Pot Roasts Pot roasts also are less tender cuts and should be prepared using moist-heat cooking methods in the oven in a covered pot or pan. It takes more time, but the results are worth waiting for. Pot roasts become fork-tender and develop a savory flavor unique to slow-cooked beef.
Pot roasts from the chuck have more fat, and thus more flavor than those from the round, but many beef chuck and round cuts can be used interchangeably in pot roast recipes.
A balanced diet includes high quality protein like lean beef, eggs and dairy, in addition to fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Beef Brisket Beef brisket is a boneless cut from the breast section, the underside of the forequarter. Available as a fresh cut, it is best prepared by using braising or stewing techniques. Brisket is also processed into corned beef, a technique that brines the meat, and uses moist-heat methods.
Brisket is available in whole brisket, point half/point cut brisket, flat half/flat cut and middle cut. The point half is sometimes also called thick cut. The flat half, often referred to as first cut is less fatty and is often the most popular for making braised beef brisket.
Stir-fry Beef Your goal when stir-frying beef is to have uniform size pieces to ensure even cooking. Almost any tender beef cut, such as sirloin, top sirloin, tri-tip, ribeye, top loin or tenderloin may be trimmed and cut into the appropriate size strips for use in beef stir-fry recipes. Even some less tender cuts, such as flank, top round and round tip steaks, are suitable for stir-frying.
Beef for Stew One of the homiest comfort foods, beef stew practically cooks itself as it slowly simmers on the stove. Beef for stew should be a boneless cut, from the chuck or round. The ideal size for uniform cooking is about a 3/4 to 1-1/2 inch cube. Trim the excess fat and cut into the appropriate size for your recipe.
Beef for Kabobs Kabobs are a great crowd pleaser, whether you grill them outdoors or broil them indoors. Beef for kabobs is usually cut into 1 to 1-1/2 inch boneless pieces from the sirloin, tenderloin or round. Cubes cut from the round will benefit from a tenderizing marinade.
Beef production is a significant component of Mississippi agriculture. The total value of production of cattle and calves in Mississippi ranked 7th among the state’s agricultural commodities in 2011. As of January 1, 2012 Mississippi cattle farms and ranches had a total of 950,000 head of cattle. Currently the state boasts a total of approximately 18,000 cattle operations.
Source: Mississippi Beef Council www.msbeef.org.