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Of Meat Grades And Meat Cuts

Of Meat Grades and Cuts

When you are buying meat, buy only those meats that have passed inspection. Look for meat's USDA grading, which is based on the amount of small flecks of fat in the meat. The grade of meat indicates meat's tenderness, juiciness and flavor.

USDA grade is an important consideration when buying meat, particularly beef. The USDA grades currently used for beef are Prime, Choice and Select. Prime, the best grade, is dry-aged to evoke flavor. Choice, the next step down, is not as extensively aged as Prime and thus, much less expensive. Select, the lowest USDA grade, is the meat that most people purchase and eat because it is the least expensive. Veal is either Prime or choice grade, while pork is not graded at all.

Meats can be cut in a variety of ways and certain recipes require particular meat cut. While a meat recipe may not specify a grade, it may specify a type of meat cut. There are many cut, such as: Filet Mignon, New York Strip, Porterhouse, Ribeye, T-bone, Roasts (which come from a little-exercised part of the cow so they are very tender) and Ground beef (which is great for hamburgers and meatballs). Ground beef has different grades such as ground chuck and ground round. These grades indicate the beef's fat content. In general, the lower the fat content, the more expensive the beef.

If you find it difficult to remember which cuts are which, print out a "Meat Cuts" cheat sheet, laminate it and place it where you can easily access when you're cooking. Each cut and grade of meat tastes a little different. A recipe will usually be specific as to which cut you should use.



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