Your friendly neighbourhood butcher is a wealth of knowledge on the best cuts of beef for your kitchen, but when we are left adrift in the supermarket aisle it is easy to find ourselves staring blankly at the endless range of cuts available.
T-bone and porterhouse look the same but cost different, so which one do you choose? Is the more expensive option always better?
Generally speaking, the more expensive cuts of beef are more tender and don’t take long to cook. However, the cheaper, tougher cuts can still create delicious dishes when prepared properly, often making them great value if you know how to use them. We have put together the most common cuts of beef to help you make the most of this versatile ingredient, and your grocery budget!
Made up of parts of the neck, shoulder blade and upper arm, chuck is a tough meat but very flavourful. This makes it a great low cost option for ground beef and slow-cooked braised dishes such as beef stew, pot roast and ragù.
The traditional standing rib roast (sometimes called prime rib) is an impressive roast for entertaining, with the rib bones attached. A standing rib roast is best cooked rare to medium in a hot oven, or sliced into rib-eye steaks.
Rib-eye steaks are sliced from the ribs, with the rib bone in. It is highly marbled with a large swath of fat which results in a rich beef flavour. A Scotch Fillet steak is a rib-eye steak with the bone removed. This cut is very tender, making it perfect for high temperature pan-frying or grilling.
A very tasty but tough cut taken from the chest, brisket has high amount of connective tissue which makes it great for boiling, braising or slow roasting. Thinly sliced brisket is a popular option for a traditional Vietnamese Pho.
Many desirable cuts of beef come from the striploin, including sirloin, T-bone and porterhouse steak. Sirloin steaks are tender and rich in flavour. They are best suited to high temperature cooking such as pan-frying, grilling or stir-frying.
T-bone steaks are actually two cuts in one, comprising of part sirloin and part tenderloin separated by a T-shaped bone. Porterhouse is similar but comprises of a bigger piece of tenderloin. Because of the bone, pan searing can be a bit tricky so opt to grill instead with the tenderloin section furthest away from the heat (as this part will cook faster).
Also known as fillet, or Filet Mignon on fancy French menus, tenderloin steaks are the most tender cut of beef. It has a beautiful almost buttery texture, but due to its low fat content it is also correspondingly low in flavour. Because it’s so low in fat it also cooks much faster and can be prone to drying out, so you only need to cook it very briefly. Great for pan-frying, BBQ, stir-frying or roasted as a whole cut.
Flank steak comes from the abdominal muscles and has a course grain running along it’s length. Versatile flank steak can be used for high temperature cooking such as stir-fry and also for slow-cooked dishes. Slow-cooked flank steak can be easily shredded for a tasty addition to Mexican dishes and salads.
Rump roast is a very flavourful boneless piece of beef cut from the hindquarter. This is a versatile cut that can be used for a traditional Sunday roast, pan-fried, grilled, or slow-cooked in a braise.
Rump steak is juicy and full of flavour but not as tender as some other steaks so they are generally good value. It is best suited to quick cooking on a hot pan or grill.
Silverside comes from the outside of the rear leg. A tough muscle that has been used heavily for walking, silverside requires gentle slow cooking and is most commonly boiled in a broth to make corned beef.
Shank or Shin
Coming from the legs, this cut is extremely tough and full of connective tissue, which means it will break down beautifully when slow cooked at low temperatures. Beef shin with the bone in is used to make the traditional Italian dish osso bucco.