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Beefed up
Cuts from the cow and how to prepare them

06/15/17
By Matt Ingersoll listings@hippopress.com



 From hamburgers to London broil steak, filet mignon to jerky, the meat from a cow provides dozens of variations of flavor and tenderness. Local butchers say these differences have mostly to do with the animal’s muscle usage in its body.

“The muscles that the cow uses the most [to move around] often produce the tougher cuts, so those in turn require a longer and slower process of cooking,” said Craig Muccini, owner and general manager at The Flying Butcher in Amherst. “So you want to braise cuts from the leg and shoulder muscles, because they are worked hard, whereas something like a beef brisket you would want to put on a smoker.”
Kyle Perreault, a butcher at Mr. Steer Meats & More in Londonderry, said shoulder clods of beef are great for hamburgers because the meat is usually very lean.
Burger patties are prepared at Mr. Steer using a Hollymatic Super Patty machine. Owner Christopher George said patties are available either as singles through the front case or frozen in 4-ounce or 6-ounce boxes.
“You don’t want to have the meat too lean, because the leaner you make it, the drier it is,” George said. “Between 85 and 90 percent lean is usually a good mark.”
The chuck, a rectangular piece coming from parts of the cow’s shoulder and neck bones, is a cut Perreault recommends slow cooking for a period of time in a crockpot or a pot, due to its fat content.
“Once you get farther down the chuck [on the animal’s body], you get to the short ribs and loins, which are awesome for braising,” Perreault said. “The short loin is also where you get your Porterhouse and T-Bone steaks, and the filet mignon actually comes off of the short loin as well. … The reason a filet is so tender and has very little fat is because there is really no movement; it’s all on the inside.”
Muccini said chuck and short rib cuts are usually not the best to grill because they generally aren’t as tender.
“Tenderness and flavor are a little bit separate from each other,” he said. “You’re not going to be able to [grill] chuck steak cuts for 10 or 12 minutes … and expect to serve it tender as a [short loin] steak.”
Other cuts include the flank and the brisket, which are located in the cow’s chest area.
“The brisket … is a little bit of a fattier piece,” Perreault said. “That’s good for smoking and for slow cooking, and then farther down, where there’s less rib and a little less movement, you have the flank and the skirt, and those are good for grilling.”
Along the hindquarter and back leg areas of the cow, cuts are divided into the top round, bottom round and eye round, located in the center. Below the round is the shank, a tender cut just above the leg bone. Perreault said a lack of fat in these cuts makes for good roasts, and the round cuts are also often used to make beef jerky.
Muccini said some cuts that are not as widely available but can be special ordered include beef cheeks, or the meat from the facial muscles of the cow, and hanger steak, which comes from the animal’s diaphragm area, as well as inner organs like the liver and the kidneys.
“We can’t sell them regularly all the time but we can always order it fresh for the customer,” he said.
As for what you’ll pay, ground beef is going to be cheaper than some of the other bigger steak cuts; depending on how lean it is, it’ll go for around $5.99 or $6.99 per pound. Briskets are also at about $6.99 per pound. Ribeyes can go for around $15 to $16.99 per pound. Tenderloin steaks like filet mignon and short loin are pricier at about $24.99 per pound.
“Basically the more tender or flavorful it is, the more you are going to pay for it,” he said. 





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