Here in Alberta, it’s all about the beef.
There are hundreds of different cuts of beef that are broken down into categories like primal and sub-primal cuts. The different categories of cuts have distinctive characteristics based on the amount of muscle tissue. For a cut like the chuck, there are 13 cuts just within that category. So where do you start? At Real Deal Meats Ltd., owners Alicia and Darcy Boisvert have hundreds of people come though their doors each week. The most popular item is the ribeye. At a close second, tenderloin – and then sirloin. Here, the Boisverts explain some of the different cuts and how to handle them.
Common and Uncommon Cuts
The most common cuts are the steak cuts like tenderloin, ribeye, New York strip loin, rib steak, top sirloin and T-bone.The not-so-common cuts include flank steak and brisket.
Certain cuts are tougher to begin with and require a bit of finesse in preparation. For example, marinating a flank or skirt steak can help tenderize the meat. A good tip for this type of cut is to cut across the grain. The muscle fibres are minimized when cut against the grain. This will leave you with tender slices rather than chewy meat.
Rest your steak for five minutes and a roast for 15 to 20 minutes once cooking is completed. This will hold in the juices and moisture – giving you the tenderness you desire.
Season with Care
Blair Lebsack, chef and owner of RGE RD, says different cuts need to be treated differently and can deliver different flavours when compared to other cuts.
For a cut like a strip loin and ribeye, just add salt and pepper and let the flavour of the meat shine.
When it comes to a flank and skirt steak, Lebsack likes to do a marinade for about an hour before cooking. Those types of cuts do hold up to strong flavours like rosemary or chili oil. Then, of course, add a liberal hit of salt before cooking.
For a round roast, use a dry rub of fresh herbs, salt and pepper. Then, with the tip of a knife blade, make a few small pockets where you can stuff a whole clove of garlic into each one. The garlic roasts inside, releasing a wonderful aroma and, when the beef is sliced, you get roast garlic in some bites.
Brisket is best smoked. All you need to do is add salt and nice flavoured wood like apple or cherry. Then it’s into the smoker for about 12 hours.
Turn Up the Heat
For a round steak and any of the hip cuts, you want to treat it like a roast. Cooking it low and slow will help tenderize the meat.
Flank and skirt steaks are lean and can cook quite fast. Because the meat is so lean, it takes on extra flavour. So don’t be afraid of adding in some fat and basting the steak with butter in a pan. Cook flank and skirt steak to an internal temperature of 52 to 55 degrees Celsius to reach medium rare.
A nice one-inch ribeye is only going to take about three to four minutes per side on the grill to hit medium rare. You want to get the grill nice and hot then turn it
down before you put the steaks on. A strip loin steak can cook even faster because it’s leaner.
Your meat should be room temperature before cooking. This will help your cut cook evenly