When you fire up the barbeque your goal is often to cook a fine piece of meat. You’ll prepare a fine sauce and monitor the procedure carefully to ensure the best outcome. But that result is only possible if you start with a great chunk of beef. Here are some tips on how to recognize the difference between brisket and the best off the bone.
Filet Mignon has earned its reputation as a truly fine piece of beef. It cooks up to a very tender state and can be found in the finest restaurants because they know you have to start with quality to end up with quality. They’re cut from the tail side of the tenderloin, and have a softer taste than other cuts.
Top sirloin, despite the name, is a good but not great cut. They come in several grades and prime is generally better than the rest. Even within that category there will be variation since each animal is an individual, providing differences in quality.
Porterhouse can certainly be a good cut of beef. A popular choice in restaurants, it can cook up to a delicious level. Cuts are often defined by the level of marbling (the ‘veins’ of fat that wend through a piece). That fat melts under intense heat and diffuses into and around the meat, delivering a juicy, flavorful dish. Porterhouse has ample marbling to produce those effects.
T-bone derives its name from the shape of the bone that holds together the sections of beef that are the centerpiece of the recipe. Cut from just below the porterhouse section, the bone helps provide additional flavor and solidity, making for a tasty meal.
This cut is similar to a tenderloin, which is cut from inside the breast. New York Strip is another popular variation, which is essentially a T-bone with the bone cut away. Strips are comparatively inexpensive, but still very tasty when prepared correctly.
Rib-eye is an even finer piece of beef, with considerable marbling. Cooked properly, this cut becomes tender on the inside with just the right amount of seared surface. The final result is a delicious barbeque that demonstrates why the style and cut remain so popular.
But whichever cut you pick, it’s important to look for certain common elements in order to produce a delectable dish.
Freshness is critical. Frozen meat will never produce the best meal. Even when thawed correctly, by de-freezing slowly in the refrigerator not rapidly on the counter, the beef can never fully return to its original state.
Marbling should be ample, but not overwhelming. Fine threads that wind through the beef will help create a uniform level of good taste. But trim any excess around the perimeter to a thin outer layer in order to yield a dish that tastes like steak, not fat.
Cook slowly and apply rubs or sauces to taste, while remembering that the meal is in the beef.