Beef -

Is the most important of meats, the chief staple of the butcher and the leading food article in the average household.

It is a curious and in some respects an unfortunate fact that in different parts of the country there are many names for the same "cut," but Diagrams I and II, adapted from a recent Bulletin of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, illustrate a very widely accepted division of a whole beef and show the relative positions of the cuts in the animal and in a dressed side.

The Neck Piece is frequently cut so as to include more of the Chuck than is represented by the diagram.

The Shoulder Clod is usually cut without bone. The Shoulder (not indicated in the diagram) includes more or less of the shoulder blade and of the upper end of the Foreshank. Shoulder Steak is cut from the Chuck.

In many localities, the Plate is made to include all the parts of the forequarters designated on the diagrams as Brisket, Cross-ribs, Plate and Navel, and different portions of the Plate as thus cut are spoken of as the "brisket end of plate" and "navel end of plate." This part of the animal is largely used for corning.

The Ribs are frequently divided into "first" cut, the first three ribs constituting the choicest "prime" ribs of beef, "second" cut and "third" cut, the last-named lying nearest the Chuck and being slightly less desirable than the former.

The Chuck is sometimes sub-divided in a similar manner, the third cut being nearest the neck.

The names applied to different portions of the Loin vary considerably in different localities. With the Hip it is generally known as "hip-loin." The part nearest the ribs is frequently called "small end of loin" or "small end sirloin" or "short steak." The other end of the loin is called "thick end sirloin" or "sirloin." Porter-house steaks are cut from the "thick end." The very tender strip of meat known as the "tenderloin" lies under or inside the hip-loin, being thickest at the hip part and gradually tapering off to a very narrow piece at the "small end."

It is not uncommon to find the Flank cut so as to include more of the loin than is indicated in the figures, in which case the upper portion is called "flank-steak." The larger part of the flank is frequently corned, as is also the case with the Rump.

In some markets, the Rump is cut so as to include a portion of the loin, which is then sold as "rump steak."

The portion of the Round on the inside of the leg is regarded as more tender than that on the outside, and is consequently preferred to the latter. As the leg lies upon the butcher's table this inside of the round is usually on the upper, or top, side, and is therefore called "top round."

The lower diagrams, (III, IV) show two other standard divisions - No. III, a method widely accepted by Chicago and Kansas City wholesale butchers, and Nos. IV and V a popular New York wholesale division.

Every normal steer has thirteen ribs. The general eastern rib cut gives eight ribs, an "S-rib roast" - one rib remaining on the hindquarters and four on the chuck - but this division is subject to wide variations at the wish of the purchasing retailer.

The best beef is that of a young stall-fed, corn-fed steer. It should be of fine, smooth texture and bright fresh red color intermixed with fine streaks of white fat. It should retain the impression of the finger after it is removed - this is important, as old or tough beef is elastic to the touch. meat that is pale or deep purple in color, that is wet and flabby, or has a sickly smell, should be carefully avoided.

If the fat (of a healthy specimen) is yellow, the beef may still be of good quality - it is not from a stall-fed animal, but it may be a fine grass-fed specimen matured under specially favorable conditions - but if, as is generally the case, the fat is yellow from oil-cake feeding it has been obtained at the expense of the best flavor of the meat.

Cow beef and bull beef are also sold, but they are, at the general age of slaughtering, not in any way comparable to steer beef in quality. Cow beef is a darker red than steer beef. When young it may be more tender than steer, but it is seldom if ever as juicy or fine flavored.

"Boneless cuts" of beef are supplied to retailers throughout the country by several big packing houses. They include tenderloins, sirloin strips, sirloin butts, rib-beef rolls, loin backs, clods, etc. They are especially convenient and easy for the inexperienced butcher to handle and cut up, but some judges assert that, shipped in that manner, the meat deteriorates in flavor as the result of the loss of blood and extractives.

beef to be at its best should always be aged. To age it properly, a good refrigerator is, of course, indispensable. The temperature should be about 33° to 35° Fahr., and the atmosphere dry - the dryer the better. In cold dry air, beef will ripen and sweeten and may safely be held a long time, whereas, in a warm, moist atmosphere it will become sticky and sour in a comparatively short time. It is important that the temperature should be uniform and not allowed to rise and fall.

One cannot dwell too emphatically on the importance of the proper aging of beef, for cooked fresh beef, even if cut from young animals, is certain to be tough, whereas beef properly aged will be more or less tender, even if cut from animals conspicuous for the number of their years. "Light" or very lean carcases are not though suitable for aging, as the fibre is liable to deteriorate during the process.

beef is generally acknowledged to be the best flesh-former of all modern foods, as in addition to an average of about 15% to 20% of protein it contains a considerable proportion of fat in an easily digestible form. A diet very largely of meat is not, though, desirable for the average person of sedentary occupation (see FOOD VALUES).

When heads of families realize that there are many cuts of beef equally as nutritious as the sirloin, porterhouse steak and standing rib roast, which can, with very little extra trouble, be served in forms just as palatable and inviting, they will find a wonderful difference in their expenditures for meats. Further, such a revolution in ideas would inevitably result in lower prices for the "choice cuts" also - it is only natural that high prices prevail for them now as the general public thinks that there are only three or four pieces of an entire beef that are fit for the table and all other parts have to be sacrificed at extremely low figures, or utilized by packers for their canned products.

In broiling or frying a steak, the most important point is to put it over a quick fire and expose it on each side for about a minute so as to seal the juices in the meat - then proceed in the ordinary way to finish the cooking.

Similarly, in "roasting" meat, have the oven hot, so that the outside is quickly cooked, to seal the juices inside.

The average American doesn't care much for boiled fresh beef, yet, properly prepared, it is just as palatable as steak. The best cuts for this purpose are the brisket, cross-ribs and rump - the rump is especially suitable for those who prefer lean boiled meat. The principal points to be observed in cooking are: (1) tie the meat up to preserve its shape, (2) put into boiling water, (3) add salt, etc., and plenty of vegetables, (4) simmer gently until done - don't let it boil and bubble away, and don't overcook it or reduce it to rags.

American prime beef has earned the reputation - abroad as well as at home - of being equal to the world's best anywhere. This is the result of the improvements during recent years in breeding, feeding and shipping. The old-time long-horned Texas steer, formerly the accepted American type, is obsolete as the result of crossing with high class imported stock and selection of the best grades has been brought to a very fine point; range feeding exclusively has been succeeded by grain feeding scientifically controlled for a considerable time prior to slaughtering, and modern methods of transportation have done away with the necessity for freezing shipments.

Americans are, by the way, the greatest meat eaters in the world. The average consumption per capita here is 175 pounds per annum - and of this by far the greatest percentage is of beef in one form or another. English people average 110 pounds per capita, the French eat only half as much as the English, and the people of Germany, Austria and Italy consume still less.


Arround Beef in The Grocer's Encyclopedia

Beef à La Mode

The Grocer's Encyclopedia
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