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Have you ever found yourself wandering through the grocery store aisles, browsing the meat section, totally in the dark about what beef cut you’re looking at? Granted, it’s labeled, but what in tarnation is a short plate? The only plate you’ve ever associated with a cow is the one they eventually end up on. Could it be referring to a spinal plate? Does good meat come from the back of the cow? If these questions have previously plagued your meat-buying experiences in both a restaurant setting as well as a grocery store, we’re here to help. We proudly serve Certified Angus Beef, so we know what you’re talking about when it comes to cuts of meat and understanding what you’re getting.

Know Your Beef

“Beef” is defined as the meat product of fully grown cattle, i.e. they’re at least two years old. In general, they yield around 450 lbs of meat that is safe for human eating, though most meat packaging places will use the whole cow, for example, their hooves are often used for glue. Different parts of the consumable portion of the cow are called different things and offer different properties that make them better for various cooking purposes. If you’re confused by all of the jargon on your beef packaging at the store, you’re not alone, as there are over 60 different types of beef products and it’s also the most popular meat in the United States. Understanding a different kind of meats will help you make educated choices about the nutrition value of different cuts and where they fit in the dishes you’re preparing and ordering.

Cuts of Beef

There are eight main cuts of beef: loin, chuck, shank, brisket, short plate, round, rib and the flank. These cuts are known as primal cuts, and from these cuts, several different minor cuts are made before these chunks of meat make it to the store. You’ll find most meat is classified by the primal and minor cut of the piece of beef you’re preparing to purchase.

Knowing The Different Cuts

If you’re trying to locate where each piece of meat sits on the cow, you should know that the chuck sits on the shoulder. It’s not very marbled and usually appears as ground meat or stew meat in stores. The rib, as well as the short meat, has plenty of marbling, which is why they’re often featured on their own. The loins are found right behind the ribs on a cow and are one of the most flavorful and tender cuts. It’ll be one of the most expensive cuts of meat because it’s the most delicious. Short loin is considered to be better than sirloin and features high-end cuts of meat, like filet mignon, T-bones and strip steak, as well as filet of strip. Sirloin cuts tend to be right out of the center of the cut of meat. Obviously, this area produces the sirloin steak as well as the tri-tip steak and culotte steak or bottom sirloin.

Other Cuts

Brisket is from the breast of the cow and is a very tough cut of meat, and is, thus, best suited for stews and BBQ. Lean beef is taken from the shank as it won’t have much fat in it, it’s best suited to dishes that include gravy, or a thick sauce in them. The beef round is found on the back half of the animal in the rump region. It’s often sold as ground beef that is leaner but you can also grab rump roast and top round London broil, top round roast, roast, sirloin steak and other types with a fair amount of tenderness but not too fatty. In fact, one of the better cuts of meat for weight loss is the tiny, but extremely savory, butterfly top round steak. When prepared correctly, these are delicious pieces of meat in their own right.

Try Out Your Knowledge at Montana Jacks

Now that you’re educated about beef, you can make smart decisions about what steak you need in your diet. By that, we mean you need the juiciest Certified Angus Beef cut of meat. Visit us to access high-quality meat for a quality price in Billings today.