Now that summer is upon us the time to get out the grill and prepare that beef to everyone’s delight. There are several items of interest that a dad must take into consideration when selecting and buying beef. One is the use or method of preparing the steak or cut of beef. For example, if you wished to barbecue beef by the smoking method you would only want to use brisket beef. The brisket cut comes from the lower front portion of the cow and has the greatest amount of fat. Barbecuing in a smoker, as a general rule, needs fat to cook properly. If you are going to roast then there are the chuck or the round cuts that offer great results. Same thing with broiling such as a London Broil using a cut of round. There are many recipes that will go against what has been stated in this article so take note, follow these general rules and you won’t go wrong because they are easy and reliable.
When it comes to pure eating and grilling the king of all has to be the T-bone steak. This cut comes from the rear section of the cow but in front of the round section and is close to the tenderloin section, the primo portion, of the cow. The T-bone is a succulent portion of the cow which is easy to cook and hard to make mistakes. Here the butcher has several options. One of which is to call it a Porterhouse versus a T-bone cut. In some cases there is a difference in that the Porterhouse cut comes from the back of the short loin section whereas the T-bone comes from the front of that section. However, in most cases the only difference is the price.
The term Porterhouse was concocted in a town named Midway in Kentucky where a train stop restaurant wanted to give the cut a fancy name and picked a sophisticated name of a New York restaurant. That indicates that there are a lot of names of cuts of beef which are just promotional in nature. For example one might go into a restaurant and see ‘New York Cut’ but in New York that same cut of beef will be called “Kansas City Cut”. Don’t let any of those names fool you. They mostly are hype and with the hype so also goes higher prices.
As to the grades of beef that is one of the most important aspects to the quality and taste of the meat. There are four rankings: Prime, Choice, Select and Standard. Within these rankings there are other rankings which are not readily revealed to the common person. For example there is a high grade Prime, a medium grade Prime and a low grade Prime. All these grades are determined by a USDA inspector.
Forget the high and medium grade Prime. You will never or rarely see that in the meat section of your local store. Buyers for restaurants are eagerly waiting for this kind of stock to arrive and often purchase these cattle before they are butchered or while still on the hoof. How can they grade it without even seeing the beef and its marbling and other aspects? Any buyer worth his salt knows the location where the beef has been raised and under what conditions. For example, The best beef in the world comes from the pan handle area of Nebraska and is called ‘high grassy lands beef’. This beef has proven more succulent than the Kobe beef from Japan. If you ever get a chance to eat this beef you will think you are in pure heaven.
Forget the Select and Standard grades as they are not worth wasting your grill gas. When you buy any beef for the grill get the highest grade. It is worth the extra money.