Round, chuck, rib, shank, brisket, sirloin… The nine portions of a cow can yield some 40 common cuts of beef, each one with its own uses, flavors, and best cooking methods. Cuts of beef can vary wildly in their fat content, their toughness, and their taste. Here are a few of our favorite cuts.
From the Short Loin
The short loin of the cow, just behind the ribs, yields the well-known tenderloin cut, the porterhouse steak, and the T-bone steak.
The tenderloin is common in steak tartare, beef Wellington, and beef Stroganoff, and is the source of the iconic filet mignon.
The porterhouse and T-bone steaks are characterized by their t-shaped bone, and both have a strip steak on side of the bone, and a piece of tenderloin on the other. T-bone steaks typically have less tenderloin than porterhouse steaks.
While we won’t wade it the murky waters beef ribs vs. pork ribs in regional barbecue, one of our favorite cuts of beef comes from the rib portion of the cow: the ribeye steak.
Ribeyes are known for being particularly tender and exceptionally flavorful, making them a favorite amongst steak eaters. Known as a “cowboy cut” when the bone is left in, this cut of beef is well-marbled and quite juicy.
Beef brisket is a staple in the barbecue world, and its pickled variant – the corned beef brisket – has its own place in history as the foundation of the famed Reuben sandwich. Brisket is often cooked slowly over low to moderate heat, which tenderizes the meat and breaks down its connective tissues. Brisket is often purchased in one of two distinct cuts – the flat cut, or the deeply marbled point.
From the Flank
The flank portion of the cow gives us two well-known pieces of meat, the flank steak and the skirt steak. The skirt steak is best known for its use in classic fajitas, while the flank steak is often found in London broil. Both of these steaks are highly flavorful, but can be tough. Slicing the steak thinly, against the grain will improve its tenderness.