When its Perry Land & Cattle beef, it’s a cut you can count on. Tender, flavorful, well marbled… which cut is the right one for your table?
If you’ve ever found yourself staring blankly at the beef section in your local grocery store wondering which cuts of beef are superior, you’re not alone. Cut location, quality grade, feed type & cattle environment, these all play a role in the cut you choose. Choosing the right beef to feed your family should be a lot easier than learning the hottest new line-dance, and much less embarrassing. Let us fill you in on just what you’re looking for.
Steak Cuts First, know your labeling. The USDA grades the quality of beef in 3 groups: Prime, Choice, & Select. (There’s a 4th at the bottom of the rankings known as “no roll beef,” but you may not even consider feeding that to your faithful old pooch.) In short, Prime beef is top grade and is made from younger cattle with the most marbling. For good reason, you’ll find Prime steaks and roasts in shorter supply than the other grades, but they’re also perfect for grilling, roasting, and broiling. Next, the Choice grade is most abundant through stores, but, luckily, it’s still up to par in tenderness and cooking potential. Still great on the grill and for roasting, Choice beef is juicy and holds great flavor but typically has less marbling than Prime cuts. Finally, Select grade sacrifices tenderness and marbling altogether, but there’s hope. If you’re the type that uses long marinades or you keep your prize winning slow-cook recipes in a safe with your cash and jewels, these cuts will still come out “blue-ribbon.” Though we don’t use a certified USDA grader at our facility (hello, bureaucracy and added costs!), our lifelong local butcher tells us all of our beef is among the best they’ve ever seen and would easily stand above grocery store prime.
You don’t need to be a professor on bovine anatomy to choose a steak, but we prefer you know a few more parts of the cow than just “the front, the back, and underneath.” Still, if you’re not a butcher it can be hard to remember all the cuts, so here’s a quick tip. If the cut type ends with the letter “K” it’s going to be a tough cut. Like these :
Chuck – Shoulder, can still be flavorful
Shank – Leg, chewy and not very flavorful
Flank – Abs of the cow, most likely the toughest cut
Round – (This one is the butt or “The back,” to fit the K rule) Chewy and tough
Again, these cuts aren’t doomed to be the failure of the family dinner. These can be brought to life through the right cattle handling and meal prep at home.
When there’s no doubt you’re looking for flavor and texture, grab these if they’re available :
Loin (eg, striploin, tenderloin) – Back of the ribs, one of the most tender cuts
Rib – Rib cage cut, tender with lots of flavor
Sirloin – From just behind the Loin, only slightly less flavor and tenderness – more affordable, but similar quality
Brisket – Bovine Breast cut, cooked properly can still be tender
Done right, any one of the grades and cuts can be fashioned into a meal fit for a king. Now you know how to handle that pesky decision in the grocery aisle, but don’t forget about your beef’s treatment and preparation before it’s even cut. Be sure to check out more info on the Secret Behind the Beef to learn about why the best beef comes from the best fed, best kept cattle in Arizona. You can also order your own today from our shop page.
Alicia Perry, PhD, Owner/Operator and all around Hay Maven (see my blog post on the time I fell off a haystack...). I share industry insights, tips & tricks on grilling great beef, and my personal journey into the ranching world.