As is common with larger animals, different beef cuts work better with certain recipes and cooking methods. The most tender cuts are suited for frying and grilling while others are a great fit for slow cooking by braising or in stews.
During a cow’s life, different parts of the body will develop in unique ways based on how much work they do. This will result in individual cuts having varying proportions of muscle, fat, and connective tissue. For instance, areas that have worked the hardest, like the neck, which is frequently moving as the cow grazes, will build up more fiber and sinew.
Another important factor influencing the quality of beef is the origin of the animal. Locally-sourced meat that is lovingly prepared and exceeds all animal welfare standards will be fresher and more tasty. These quality meats will have plenty of marbling (white lines of fat in and around the muscle) that helps keep the meat moist while it melts away during cooking, leading to a rich flavour.
Here is our guide to the most common cuts of beef along with some helpful cooking tips:
Chuck and Blade
This cut is commonly sold as Braising Steak. It’s slightly more tender than stewing steak and is best used in stews and casseroles.
The Feather Blade steak sits on top of the chuck steak. The Feather Blade steak is also refered to as the “Flatiron Steak”, as its shape is similar to a traditional flatiron.
Often sold as “Boned and Rolled”, “French trimmed”, or “On the bone”, this cut has good marbling throughout the joint. With a lovely fat cap on top, this makes for a show stopping Sunday lunch that is super juicy and packed full of flavour.
Sirloin is more commonly sold portioned in to steaks but it all so make for an immence roasting joint for an epic Sunday lunch. Sirloin steak is taken from the same end of the loin as Porterhouse and T-Bone steaks. These prime cuts are great for grilling, frying, barbequing, and stir-fries.
Silverside and Topside
In the past, Silverside was salted and sold as a boiling joint for salt beef. Nowadays, this extra lean piece of meat is normally sold unsalted as a joint for roasting. We recommend regularly basting this cut while cooking.
Topside is another very lean joint and tends to have an extra layer of fat tied around to help baste and keep it moist. It’s an ideal joint for roasting, as the fat adds flavour and tenderness..
This juicy prime cut tends to run cheaper than Sirloin, Ribeye or Fillet, as it’s not as a tender. However, many feel that it has a much better flavour than fillet or sirloin. With Rump being a slightly harder working muscle than Sirloin, Ribeye or Fillet, it is still relatively tender but does pack way more flavour, especially once it’s gone through the dry-ageing process.
Fillet Steak is commonly regarded as the most premium prime cut of beef. This is because of its unique and exceptional tenderness, which is a result of the cut coming from the part of the cow that does the least amount of work — the lower-mid back. Despite being extra tender, fillet has very little fat – just clean, juicy, tender beef.
We recommend cooking Fillet Steak over a nice, hot grill at a rapid pace to ensure it doesn’t dry out.
Rib-eye is a cut of beef that comes from an area of the cow that does very little work — just above the ribs. This means the meat is extra tender and the flavour is very rich. The delicious flavour of Rib-eye is enhanced by ample marbling throughout the beef. As a result, Rib-eye is usually recommended to be done to at least a medium to ensure all the fat is rendered down.
This joint is also known as Top Rump and is great braised in pieces or slow-roasted as a joint. Thick flank is also sold as “stir fry” strips or flash fry steak.
Beef from this area is commonly known as “Skirt”. Skirt steak is a thin, long cut of meat from the diaphragm and is also known as Hanger steak. This cut has plenty of fat marbling, making it moist and full of flavour. It’s great for grilling, frying, or on the barbeque.
Beef brisket is flavour-packed from the breast section, under the first five ribs. It’s one of the best cuts for braising and long, slow cooking, which gives the abundance of connective tissue chance to break down into rich, tender meat.
Brisket is usually cut down further into two sections that you can choose from, each with slightly different qualities:
- Point End: This is more flavoursome than flat cut, but has more fat running through the meat. It is shaped a bit like a triangle, hence the name.
- Flat Cut: This is less fatty than the point end, with the fat in a layer on the underside. This is normally more expensive. Flat cut brisket is more rectangular in shape.
We suggest you sear the meat to start to develop some flavour, then braise until meltingly tender.
Despite being one of the most inexpensive cuts of beef, Oxtail is one of the most flavoursome. It’s most often sold cut into individual vertebrae. Long and slow braising will release the tremendous, rich flavour this cut has to offer.
Leg and Shin
Typically sold as Stewing Steak, this cut is best suited for long, slow cooking. This process helps break down the high concentration of connective tissues and denser fibers.
A Cut Above
The quality of your beef is only as good as the quality of your butcher. At Meat & Cleaver, we know our beef and pride ourselves on providing deliciously fresh and locally-sourced meat. From us to your family’s table, our free-range beef is lovingly prepared and raised to be the tastiest and healthiest meat you’ll ever enjoy.
If you’re looking for the best online butchers in the UK, you’ve come to the right place. Our meat is cut and packed daily and shipped in temperature-controlled cool boxes to ensure that you receive only the freshest meat, straight to your door with next day delivery.