As is generally known,¬†BEEF¬†is the flesh of a slaughtered steer, cow, or other adult bovine animal. These animals may be sold to be slaughtered as young as 1-1/2 to 2 years old, but beef of the best quality is obtained from them when they are from 3 to 4 years of age.
- Ranging from the highest quality down to the lowest, beef is designated by the butcher as prime, extra fancy, fancy, extra choice, choice, good, and poor. In a market where trade is large and varied, it is possible to make such use of meat as to get a higher price for the better qualities than can be obtained in other markets.
- When the quality of beef is to be determined, the amount, quality, and color of the flesh, bone, and fat must be considered. The surface of a freshly cut piece of beef should be bright red in color. When it is exposed to the air for some time, the action of the air on the blood causes it to become darker, but even this color should be a good clear red.
- Any unusual color is looked on with suspicion by a person who understands the requirements of¬†good meat. To obtain beef of the best quality, it should be cut crosswise of the fiber. In fact, the way in which meat is cut determines to a great extent the difference between tender and tough meat and, consequently, the price that is charged.
- This difference can be readily seen by examining the surface of a cut. It will be noted that the tender parts are made up of short fibers that are cut directly across at right angles with the surface of the meat, while the tougher parts contain long fibers that run either slanting or almost parallel to the surface.
- The amount of bone and cartilage in proportion to meat in a cut of beef usually makes a difference in price and determines the usefulness of the piece to the housewife. Therefore, these are matters that should be carefully considered.
- For instance, a certain cut of beef that is suitable for a¬†roast¬†may cost a few cents less than another cut, but if its proportion of bone to meat is greater than in the more expensive piece, nothing is gained by purchasing it.
- Bones, however, possess some value and can be utilized in various ways. Those containing marrow, which is the soft tissue found in the cavities of bones and composed largely of fat, are more valuable for soup making and for stews and gravies than are solid bones.
- In young beef in good condition, the fat is creamy white in color. However, as the animal grows older, the color grows darker until it becomes a deep yellow.
- Besides the flesh, bone, and fat, the general shape and thickness of a piece of beef should be noted when its quality is to be determined. In addition, its adaptability to the purpose for which it is selected and the method of cookery to be used in its preparation are also points that should not be overlooked.
- With the general characteristics of beef well in mind, you should be ¬†prepared, to learn of the way in which the animal is cut to produce the different pieces that you can see in the butcher shop and the names that are given to the various cuts.
- The cutting of the animal, as well as the naming of the pieces, varies in different localities, but the difference is not sufficient to be confusing. Therefore, if the information here given is thoroughly mastered, you will be able to select meat intelligently in whatever section of the country you may reside.
- An important point for her to remember concerning meat of any kind is that the cheaper cuts are found near the neck, legs, and shins, and that the pieces increase in price as they go toward the back.
- The general method of cutting up a whole beef into large cuts is as follows. After the head, feet, and intestines are removed, the carcass is cut down along the spine and divided into halves.
- Each half includes an entire side and is known as a side of beef. Then each side is divided into fore and hind quarters along the diagonal line that occurs about midway between the front and the back.
- It is in this form that the butcher usually receives the beef. He first separates it into the large pieces and then cuts these pieces into numerous smaller ones having names that indicate their location.
- The cuts that are obtained from these larger pieces are as follows. For instance, from the chuck are secured numerous cuts, including the neck, shoulder clod, shoulder, and chuck ribs. The same is true of the other pieces.
NAMES AND USES OF CUTSTo make these large pieces of a size suitable for sale to the consumer, the butcher cuts each one of them into still smaller pieces, The names of these cuts, together with their respective uses, and the names of the beef organs and their uses, are given in Table II.
|NAME OF LARGE PIECE||NAME OF NAME OF CUT||USES OF CUTS|
|Chuck||Neck||Soups, broths, stews|
|Shoulder clod||Soups, broths, stews, boiling, corning|
|Ribs||Brown stews, braizing, and poor roasts|
|Shoulder||Soups, stews, corning, roast|
|Brisket||Soups, stews, corning|
|Whole Plate||Plate||Soups, stews, corning|
|Navel||Soups, stews, corning|
|Loin||Short steak||Steaks, roasts|
|Porterhouse cuts||Steaks, roasts|
|Hip-bone steak||Steaks, roasts|
|Flat-bone steak||Steaks, roasts|
|Round-bone steak||Steaks, roasts|
|Flank||Rolled steak, braizing, boiling|
|Upper round||Steaks, roasts|
|Lower round||Steaks, pot roasts, stews|