Know your cuts
Not all parts of a beef are equally tender. Some parts are only useful for ground beef, some parts make excellent slow roasts. Others are a little less tender, but more tasty. Some parts that are unspectacular on their own can become mind-blowing once smoked or marinated.
The ribeye, tomahawk and ribsteak are ways of cutting from the prime rib, the most delicious and expensive part of a beef. They are the ideal steaks.
The tenderloin is the most tender, but not the most tasty, part of the beef.
The round is less popular, not so tender and contains no marbling. We use it for jerky, smoked meat, etc.
We consider the tri-tip as the best kept butcher’s secret: use our special tri-tip rub for a spectacular eating experience.
Beef cooking basics
The process of raising flavorful and tender beef doesn’t stop when the cattle leave the pasture. Cooking strategy matters. A lot.
There are two rules:
If the temperature of your beef changes too rapidly during the cooking process, it can cause the meat fibers to contract, which will make your meat tough.
A rapid temperature change will also cause moisture to be escape from the beef through condensation. Moisture is a key component of beef tenderness.
When thawing beef, always remove the original wrapping paper, cellophane, or butcher paper to prevent the tastes and smells of the packaging from leaching into the meat.
It is also a good idea to rinse your frozen beef immediately after removing it from the packaging to remove any ice that may have absorbed the flavors and smells of the packaging.
Remove your steaks from the refrigerator an hour before cooking so your steaks can warm up to room temperature before they are thrown on the grill.
For best results when grilling, begin by searing the outside of your steaks to create a crust to lock in moisture. Then turn the grill to low to finish the cooking process on low (slow) heat to prevent excessive moisture losses and protein fiber contraction.
What determines eating quality?
High quality lean beef requires slightly lower cooking temperatures and slightly shorter cooking times than marbled beef, yet marbling in itself is a poor indicator of quality. Continental beef such as Limousins and Belgian Blues are less marbled. Angus is marbled and Wagyu is extremely marbled.
Age is also a poor indicator of quality. Slow growing animals do not taste better.
Eating quality depends first and foremost on whether a beef is properly finished. Properly finished beef has lots of microscopic fat and a fat cap is present .
Most beeves finish around 750-900 lb carcass weight (500-650 lbs of meat). Males from large breeds such as Charolais, Wagyu or BBB should exceed this range. Females from small breeds such as Galloway or Highland cattle can be butchered at slightly lower weight.
A lot of direct marketed and especially grass-fed beef is butchered at much lower weights (unfinished!). This type of beef is sometimes referred to as baby beef. All we can say is that it is hard to give good advice on how to cook an inferior product.
Dry aging is another very important determinant of eating quality. Direct marketed beef carcasses are usually hung for 2-3 weeks. For dry aging, a fat cap (finished beef!) is important to prevent waste and spoilage.
Some parts of beef, such as the rib primal and New York strip can be aged longer. Water loss during the aging process and enzymatic reactions in the meat are in large part responsible for a more concentrated taste and a more elevated price tag.