PRIMALS + CUTS
The highly-marbled, melt-in-your-mouth, tender steaks that come from the short loin are perfect for upscale foodservice menus. These include: porterhouse steaks, T-bone steaks, filet mignon (tenderloin steaks) and tenderloin.
Known for value, versatility and great flavor, the sirloin provides flavorful steaks as well as delicious roasts, without breaking the bank. Very tender—though not quite as tender and marbled as cuts from short loin—sirloin steaks respond well to typical dry, fast cooking methods and are best served medium rare to medium. Roasts such as the venerable tri-tip originate in the sirloin, and with a little extra attention like marinating or seasoning, are also delicious menu additions.
Since beef chuck is a well-exercised "locomotion" muscle group, it is comparatively tough in texture. Fortunately, there is a good deal of connective tissue called collagen. When cooked slowly with added moisture, this collagen turns to smooth gelatin, providing intense flavor and a very tender texture. Beef chuck is most conducive to long, wet cooking methods, such as braising or stewing. Alternatively, ground beef chuck patties are highly desirable for their ideal ratio of lean to fat, and their savory, beefy flavor. Other chuck cuts include pot roasts, short ribs, blade steaks and petite tender flat-iron steaks.
Highly marbled and known for rich flavor and tenderness, the rib fits perfectly onto a variety of menus. Bone-in or boneless roasts from the rib should be lightly seasoned, then dry roasted in the oven. Steaks can be grilled, broiled or pan seared. Cuts from the rib are ideal when served medium-rare for best flavor and texture.
Best known for corned beef and beef barbecue, brisket should be prepared with moist heat or "low and slow" levels of heat, perhaps with smoke added for flavor. Brisket is comprised of strong pectoral muscles, with plenty of connective tissue that requires a slow cooking process. Fork tender and succulent, corned beef brisket, pastrami and barbecue brisket all make delicious home-style favorites.
Although the muscles here are lean and tough, there are a few tender cuts such as top round roast. Beef round is primarily roasted and sliced thin for deli meat. In the deli, corned beef and pastrami made from the round provide a leaner alternative to the traditional brisket versions.
Meat taken from the beef flank is very lean and muscular. It is rich and flavorful, but needs a little in the way of special preparation for maximum tenderness. Because of extra-long muscle striations, flank steaks should be served medium to medium rare and sliced on the bias, cross grain. To aid tenderness and flavor, flank benefits from a short marination in citric acid, such as lime juice. Rolled steaks and kebabs also come from the flank.
The short plate's only whole muscle cut is the skirt steak. Skirt steaks are commonly grilled or broiled whole, then cut across the grain for added tenderness. You’ll often see them served as fajitas on Tex-Mex menus, too.