The world of meat is long and exhaustive (or so I’ve been told); there are so many variations and things you can do with them. And if you’re like me, you love your meat. No, I’m not talking about that type of meat, I’m talking about the meat you eat. Yes, beef, pork, chicken, lamb, venison, all that good stuff. And with a little knowledge you too can learn to order, cook, and eat like a pro.
We will start off with everyone’s favorite, beef. Beef is one of the most versatile types of meats. You see beef everywhere, in steaks, pastas, stews, pies, sandwiches, and everything in between. For this post, I will show you some basic things you can do with beef, and how you can cook a simple dish with them.
Cows that are bred in the U.S. are placed into 3 categories: select, choice, and prime. These categories represent the quality of the beef and it’s flavor (fat content, color, marbling, etc.).
But this is all you really need to know:
- Select: Crap, don’t buy this. It is the equivalent of only getting the crust of a pizza.
- Choice: Decent, buy this if you’re using it to make pastas, stews, tacos, or other types of heavily flavored dishes.
- Prime: Awesome, buy this if you want a nice steak and want to make the piece of meat the star of the show.
Now that you know your grades, what parts of this meat should I buy? Well, this really depends on what you want to cook.
If you’re in the mood for pastas, stews, tacos, or curry, buy beef round or beef chuck, these can be bought at the choice category. These pieces of meat are generally leaner (because the cow uses more of this muscle) and can be cooked for a longer period of time without losing much of its flavor and nutritional value. They are usually cheaper and therefore are used to cook with other things, as listed above. Here are some super easy recipes I’ve filtered to help you out:
If you’re in the mood for steak, buy sirloin, NY strips, rib eyes, t-bones, filets, and porterhouses, these should be in the prime category. These pieces of meat are more tender (because the cow uses less of this muscle) and have more fat within the meat, which give it greater flavor. Because the quality is better, these cuts are generally more expensive and therefore you wouldn’t want to mix these meats with a lot of other ingredients, nearly all of the time salt and pepper will do the trick.
The world of meat can be dark and full of terrors and sometimes there is just too much to know. But fear not the next time you’re at the store or the butcher’s, stick with the basics I’ve mentioned above and as you continue to learn and read, you’ll gradually become more confident and experienced in your knowledge and preference.