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Fresh beef has cream-colored fat and bright red meat.   The best beef is marbled with fine strands of fat, which bastes the meat as it cooks and makes it tender and juicy.  Lower grades of beef have thicker marbling or no marbling, so the meat's tougher after you cook it.  Choice breeds include Angus, Kobe, Chianina, and lean but tender Piedmontese.

Substitutes:  venison (If substituting venison or other game for beef, consider adding some vinegar to the sauce to tone down the gamy flavor.) OR veal OR pork OR ostrich OR chicken OR turkey OR tempeh OR tofu OR TVP (textured vegetable protein, a meat analogue)  


chuck   The chuck section comes from the shoulder and neck of the beef, and it yields some of the most flavorful and economical cuts of meat.  The downside is that these cuts tend to be tough and fatty, and they have more than their fair share of bone and gristle.  It's usually best to cook them slowly in a liquid. 


rib   Meat from the rib section tends to be tender and well marbled with the fat that makes steaks and roasts juicy and flavorful.  Rib steaks and roasts are sometimes called "prime rib" even when the meat isn't good enough to be graded "prime" by the USDA.  It's best not to marinate rib cuts.


loin  The loin yields the most tender and expensive cuts of beef--but not the most flavorful.  The choicest portion is the tenderloin, which is exquisitely tender and lean.    The top loin and sirloin aren't as tender, but they're a bit more flavorful.  Cuts from the loin require very little work to taste great.  Indeed, steak lovers consider it almost a sacrilege to marinate them, or to cook them beyond medium rare.    


round   The round is a kind term for the rear end of the carcass.  Those muscles are well exercised, so round cuts tends to be a bit tougher and leaner than cuts from the loin.  Round cuts do well if they're cooked with moist heat, and many of them can also be roasted, as long as they're not overcooked.  


breast & flank   The breast and flank yield an assortment of cuts, including the flank steak, skirt steak, hanger steak, brisket, and short ribs.

miscellaneous cuts   This category includes cuts taken from different parts of the carcass, including ground beef, stew meat, and soup bones.


Copyright 1996-2005  Lori Alden