Beef is a staple part of the Australian diet. The meat is extremely versatile and can be used to prepare a number of dishes, from curries to soups and from patties inside your buns to barbeque. Websites like https://www.australianbeef.com.au/know-your-meat/butchers-guide-to-popular-beef-cuts/ provide delicious recipe ideas and information about the quality and ways of meat preparation to guide your cooking.
Beef is sold by the primal cut, a large section of the animal such as the half-carcass (legs and loin) or quarter (shoulder, ribs and loin). This cut may be further divided into more minor retail cuts. This article shines a light on different types of beef cuts to help you make a better choice in terms of the meat for your next beef dish.
Types of Beef Cuts
Original primals and their usual associated retail names include:
Prime Rib: rib roast; rib steak; short ribs
Loin: strip steak; top sirloin steak; tenderloin filet; porterhouse/T-bone steak
Rib/Short Loin: boneless brisket; beef shank cross cuts for barbecue; chuck eye roll for pot roasting; blade steaks from chuck shoulder
Round: rump roasts; sirloin tip side steaks; the eye of round roast for oven roasting
Rump: minute steaks, stir fry strips & cube steak
The four main categories are Chuck, Brisket, Ribs/Short Loin and Round. The way the meat is treated to create these various cuts will affect both taste and tenderness. Some cuts can be pretty tough, while others are very tender.
As with all primal cuts, smaller sub-primal are cut for sale as roasts or other specific cuts.
- Chuck eye roll roast
- Chuck cross-rib pot roast
Uncut Beef Brisket
Brisket is a sizable primal cut that generally lies between the foreleg and the lower chest. Brisket muscles support about 60% of cattle body weight, and this heavy muscling results in tough meat.
This can be offset by slow cooking at low temperatures. In Australia, beef brisket is commonly cooked to perfection with a coating of sauce or marinade, which forms a crust during the cooking process.
Ribs/Short Loin is prepared from the upper chest and neck sections of an animal, including ribs. With less connective tissue than chuck, these cuts are more tender but also leaner.
It includes various sub-primals, some of which require specialised butchery knowledge to produce particular cuts such as rib eyes. The most popular rib primal is the standing rib roast, which may be bone-in or bone-out. The ribeye is sold boneless and is a common item on restaurant menus and in supermarkets.
Tenderloin, also known as porterhouse, comes from the cow’s back, behind the ribs and in front of the rump. It lies beneath the spine’s bones and weighs about 1/2 to 3/4 of a pound per foot (19 – 25 cm).
In its entirety, it goes from the rump to the shoulder blade. Because of this positioning, some connective tissue runs through it, making it slightly tougher than other cuts but still tender enough for roasting. Tenderloin includes:
- Filet mignon
- Strip steak
- Porterhouse steak
- Rib steak
Round comes from the hindquarters of an animal. Primarily composed of the upper leg muscles, the round is one of the least expensive cuts due to its lack of tenderness. It is, however, very versatile and can be cut into steaks or roasts for various cooking methods. Round includes:
- Eye round roast
- Top sirloin steak
- Round tip side steaks for stir-frying
- “Inside” round steak for pot-roasting
- Bottom round roast & steaks
The most tender beef cuts such as tenderloin and rib eyes are the most expensive. As per reliable websites, cuts from the round (sirloin, rump) can be very tough if cooked incorrectly. These cuts work well with moist-heat methods such as braising.