Beef Gets a Grade

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I have received a lot of good feedback from my grass-fed beef so I would like to continue teaching you about beef.  I will tell you about pork and  poultry at a later date.  When you go to the meat department in your grocery store, read the labels. You will find that the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service operates a voluntary beef grading service to give  beef a grade. It is a pretty good system to use when selecting a type of beef.  Just like when you were in school, there are standards for grading. This grading system depends on the maturity of the beef, firmness, texture, color of lean, amount of marbling. Marbling is the intramuscular fat that you will find in beef. Beef can be from cows, bulls, heifers or steers, not horse. In very simple terms there are basically two types of meat, tough and tender. Both are good and have their purpose but it all depends on what part of the animal that particular cut came from.  The tough meats contains more muscle, you must braise or cook it for a longer period of time. The more tender cuts of meat have marbling and are for quick cooking. When you go to your grocery store, you may find three to five grades of meat, Prime, Choice and Select are the most desirable. There are other grades but they are  used for commercial purposes, believe me we wouldn’t want to eat these meats, they are for processors and canners.

US Prime: Is typically sold in butcher shops or sold to restaurants and hotels. You typically won’t find this in your grocery store. It is your more expensive meat, it is juicy and tender. This type of meat will be used for dry heat cooking, like grilling, oven or quick cook method on the stove top. When using this grade of beef all you need to do is to rub it with olive oil, salt and pepper.

US Choice: Less expensive than Prime and is quality cut of meat. You will find this grade of meat in the grocery store or at your butcher. It is juicy and tender and may be cooked with dry heat or by adding just a little liquid. The difference between US Choice and US Prime is the amount of marbling.

US Select: Is the most popular grade of meat, sold in grocery stores. It is economical. It is still juicy and lean. This type of meat needs marinating or cooking, like in your slow cooker for a longer period of time.

US Standard: You may find this grade of meat in the grocery store. It may be sold under the store brands name. It has very little marbling, it lacks juiciness and flavor. So this grade of meat needs marinating and cooked for a longer period of time to become tender.

You may see packaging in the meat department that will tell you what type of cattle the beef came from, like Black Angus, which is known for its flavor and tenderness.

Tip for the day:

When you buy US Select, take it out of the packaging place the meat in a zip lock baggie and pour your favorite marinade like a terriyaki, ginger and garlic sauce into the bag. Now you can freeze this meat up to one month or save it in your refrigerator for up to 3 days. When you ready to prepare, just remove meat from marinade and grill or pan fry.   The marinade will have made the meat more tender and flavorful. I use this recipe when I buy London Broil. After I grill the London Broil, I slice the meat cross grain into thin strips this will make it more tender. Serve with some roasted vegetables and a salad and you”re in for a healthy and tasty meal. Good for leftovers too, try using the extra beef in a Panini sandwich.

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