Making The Cut:
Choosing Grassfed Beef Cuts That Are Right For You!
Multiple cuts. Multiple Sections. What's tender, what's tough, how do I cook what? We're sure you have just as many more questions. This primer can help.
Grassfed Beef Cuts
Incorporating the rib section numbers one through five, Grassfed Chuck Beef is most popular when used for grassfed ground beef. However it is also very popular for grassfed beef roast and steaks, as well. It’s not typically as tender as the Rib section (ribs six through twelve), but is great for roasting, braising, and slow-cookers. The most tender cuts of grassfed chuck are Ranch Steaks, Flat Iron Steaks and Short Ribs.
The Grassfed Beef Rib Section (ribs six through twelve) are going to be the most tender cuts for your grassfed beef. This is where you get your Rib-eye Roast (more commonly known as grassfed Prime Rib, a truly delicious and tender cut of grassfed beef), Rib-eye Steak (also known as grassfed Beauty Steak) and Hanger Steak (very popular with folks in the catering and food service industry because of its ability to be sliced very thin).
These are the most desirable cuts of meat, including T-bone, porterhouse and strip steaks. A grassfed beef short loin is about 16-to-18 inches long, yielding from 11 to 14 steaks, depending on your choice of thicknesses.
Steaks from a grassfed short loin are cut starting at the ribs, then working toward the rear. Club steaks (bone-in strip steaks) are first cut, then the T-bones ( six or seven center-cut steaks), and your butcher may be able to get two to three porterhouse steaks, along the sirloin end.
** Please note: The tenderloin extends from the short loin back into the sirloin. It's interesting to note that if the tenderloin is removed, there can be no T-bone or porterhouse steaks. Both of these steaks include a section of the tenderloin muscle.**
The tender cuts from the short loin do best under “Dry-heat” cooking. You’ll find them excellent grilled or fried, enjoying the meat's full flavor with only a very light seasoning.
The primal cut of grassfed beef called “sirloin” is yet another large carcass portion running from the thirteenth rib back to the hip bone, then extending down from the backbone to the flank. This is then cut into subdivisions: Top Sirloin, Bottom Sirloin and Tenderloin. Being closer to the rear leg, these muscles can get a little tougher.
Even so, a first-cut sirloin steak (or, “pin-bone steak” as it includes a hip bone section) can be quite similar to your typical porterhouse cut of grassfed beef.
the bottom sirloin is usually divided into three main components: the tri-tip, ball tip and flap, which do well with roasting and barbecuing (and they are sometimes made into ground beef).
As previously mentioned under the Short Loin, the tenderloin extends from the short loin back into the sirloin. If the tenderloin is removed, there can be no T-bone or porterhouse steaks. Both of these steaks include a section of the tenderloin muscle. Take this in to consideration when discussing your processing order.
Top sirloin grassfed beef is generally divided into steaks, that are quite excellent when grilling.
The bottom sirloin is usually divided into three main cuts: tri-tip, ball tip and flap, These are particularly good for roasting, barbecue and ground beef.
The grassfed beef Round cut is taken from the the steer’s back leg. These muscles found in the round will be fairly lean, but because the leg and rump get the most exercise, they can be a bit tough.
Grassfed beef round, as in the sirloin, will consist of multiple subprimal cuts: the top round, bottom round and the knuckle. The bottom round is more commonly called rump roast and/or eye of round.
While braising a piece of beef round might need to be done out of necessity, the chuck will always produce a more delicious cut of meat; reason being that the top and bottom round are very lean, lacking in much collagen (Collagen is that protein that ttransforms into gelatin when slowly braised. A braised rump roast simply won’t be as flavorful or succulent as your typical braised chuck roast.
The best use of round roast is to roast them, and to do so slowly, so they come out a savory medium rare. Then, these can be thinly sliced, used for sandwiches or even served as roasts. That thinly slicing, against the grain, is essential for making them tender to eat and of course, enjoy.
This is one of the most flavorful grassfed beef cuts, but it needs to be cooked with particular care. While traditionally a fatty cut of beef, you can work this to your advantage in the cooking process, transforming it into a dish you’ll savor over and over again.
A brisket is basically the chest, or pectoral muscle around the breastbone of the animal. It’s a thick, coarser-grained grassfed beef, and needs time combined with low-temperature cooking, in order for it to break down, tenderize and incorporate into a delicious meal.
Frequently used as pot roast, Brisket is also the common choice for corned beef. Many cooks have found it highly successful to prepare brisket in a slow cooker, barbecue or smoker.
The Plate is where the skirt steak is located (used to create carne asada, grilled spicy marinated steak strips found in Mexican Cuisine) and come from the grassfed beef’s diaphragm muscle. This steak is thin, but highly flavorful, allowing it to be cooked quickly over a high heat. Just be careful not to overcook it. And, with its coarse muscle fibers, you’ll want to be sure to slice it against the grain to cut back on chewiness.
Grassfed Beef Plate contains much of the cartilage from around the ribs, which is what makes it ideal for braising (the process of cooking under moist heat at a low temperature) to dissolve this cartilage and turn it into a healthy, thick broth.
The beef plate can also be fairly fatty, often used in the making of your ground beef. Those who may want a leaner ground beef can get with their grassfed beef processor and ask them to make it leaner by adding ground beef from another cut.
Cooking Tips For Grassfed Beef
Be sure to thaw your grassfed beef (no matter the cut) in a refrigerator, and never in a microwave. For faster thawing, place your packaged beef in water.
*Very important:* After thawing your grassfed beef, let the meat “set” to allow it to reach room temperature before cooking. Do not cook grassfed beef straight out of the refrigerator!
Preparing Grassfed Beef
Be sure to give your grassfed beef cuts a substantial coating of a healthy oil, such as Virgin Olive Oil, Coconut Oil or Avocado Oil, as well as lightly oil any pan, grill or cooking sheet. Grassfed Beef is high in Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids but low in other fats, so this will both help to enhance the natural flavors of the beef and help it to get that mouth-watering color.
Also be sure to preheat your oven, pan or grill before setting your beef into them.
Cooking your Grassfed Beef
Grassfed Beef cuts are best cooked to a rare-to-medium stage, and you’ll want to make sure that you don’t over-cook it, or it may dry out on you. This is because grassfed beef, being lower in fat, retains less moisture since there is less fat to “bind” to; If you truly need to cook it more, you may want to consider basting the beef while cooking it at a lower temperature with your favorite sauce.
The Final Step in Cooking: