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Beef 101

A cut above: learning the different grades of beef and how to cook them!


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Whether you like a lean top sirloin steak or a buttery filet mignon, there's a cut of beef to suit everyone's taste buds. But have you ever wondered where your favorite cuts of beef come from? And how they're graded? We grilled (pun intended) Executive Chef Reagan Roach from Harris Ranch in Coalinga about different cuts of beef and he met the challenge!

According to Reagan, USDA inspectors determine the quality rating of beef and there's three different grades:

Prime has the most marbling: Usually sold to high-end restaurants, Prime beef may also be featured at specialty meat markets and some supermarkets.

Choice has a little less marbling than Prime: Choice is the most widely available grade in the market.

Select has the least amount of marbling: With less fat in the muscle, Select beef is leaner but a little less juicy and flavorful than Choice and Prime.

Also, Reagan explained what marbling in meat actually refers to. This intramuscular fat gives beef its flavor, juiciness and tenderness. In general, the more marbling, the better the cut. Marbling, however, does not refer to the layer of fat on the outside of the steak or roast, which can be trimmed away.

Cuts with the most marbling are often called tender cuts and are related to muscles that don't get a lot of action/movement on the animal. These cuts can be cooked with a dry heat like a sear, grill or broil. Examples would be a filet or ribeye.

A cut with less marbling would be a beef shank. It needs moisture when cooking, so braising or slow cooking it will enhance its natural flavors.   

Lastly, Reagan says the most important tip when grilling meat is to start with a hot grill, use tongs (so you don't poke holes in the meat) and don't mess with it after you put it on the grill.

For more information, visit www.harrisranch.com.


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