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Meat Cuts and Tenderness

Cuts of Meat and Tenderness Guide

We are adding to this section as we go along and therefore what you find here today will be useful, however somewhat limited. Cruse around and we hope you enjoy the information. Please keep in mind that the tenderness ratings are general and will vary according to the grade of meat (discussed below), thickness of the meat, where the meat is purchased (discount store vs. meat market) and age.

Learn to be selective and ask your butcher about the meat he offers. Most butchers I know are friendly and are quite happy to impart their information - and they have a lot - if they have been at it for any length of time.

Anyway, here is out selection at this time. We hope this helps with your
"Quest of the Flames".

General Information:

BullAlways attempt to obtain meat from younger animals. The old fellas you see to the left have been around the pasture more than once and will prove to be tougher than your taste buds desire. These cuts will quite often end up in the discount stores due to the prices being lower. In this case, you really do get what you pay for.

Here is a definition heard often that may be useful . . . . Aging: A term used to describe the holding of meats at a temperature of 34 to 36 degrees F. for a period of time to break down the tough connective tissues through the action of enzymes thus increasing tenderness.

The Three Basic Grades Of Beef

Prime - Less meat due to a higher fat content - Greater marbling (fat). Most expensive beef and usually only found in meat markets - as opposed to supermarkets.

Choice - Juicy and tender - Produces excellent steaks - Supermarkets

Select - Most popular on a general basis. Leaner and less juicy - Supermarkets
Standard, Commercial, Utility, Non Graded and Natural are not generally available in the supermarkets.

There is no clear cut definition of these categories and some care should be exercised when making your selection.

Now, as for tenderness, here is our guide for selecting meat based upon a generalized category system. It is not fail proof and is subject to fair criticism We simply hope this guide will assist you in selecting the types of meat you desire some reasonable security in knowing the tenderness of each piece. Buy some at the place you buy your meat and as with many recipes, adjust accordingly. We hope this helps . . . . . .

Rating System

These cuts of meat are generally going to be your most tender and delicious steaks and roasts. Over the years they are consistent and dependable. Your best cuts will come from the meat markets and are always Prime and Choice Cuts of Meat. Bank on these!

These cuts are only one notch below the best! They will be tender and juicy. There is nothing wrong with them and they will save you a buck or two. They will generally be your Choice Cuts Of Meat.

These meats are the average cuts and may need some tenderizing occasionally depending upon your taste. These will usually be your Select Cuts Of Meat. Saving more buck.

Usually a select piece of meat which needs tenderizing and/or marinating. Mostly used for grilling and fun food - as opposed to sit down dinners to impress the boss.

Folks, get to work. You are going to have to heavily tenderize these suckers. They are tough and will require talent to make tender. That's not to say they can't be worked with and made very tasty meals.


Rib - This steak comes from the rib section next to the shoulder. This piece of meat contains a portion of the rib bone and the eye muscle next to the shoulder and the eye muscle next to the short loin.

Rib Eye (Delmonico) - This boneless slice is cut from the forequarter, give these steaks an added amount of marbling for that rich steak flavor. Same as the Rib Steak less the bone.

Porterhouse - A combination of two of the best cuts of meat, a tender filet and a juicy strip steak, connected with a t-bone for that extra added succulent flavor.

T-Bone - This piece of meat come from the center section of the back of the cow and contains a bone in the shape of a "T". It also has some of the tenderloin and top loin.

Club - This piece of meat come from the center section of the back of the carcass and contains a piece of the top loin and none of the tenderloin.

Kansas City Strip a/k/a/ New York Strip - This steak which has different names for different places is a great steak for those who like a lean juicy steak. It is that part of the "top loin portion" of the T-bone steak (i.e. less the t-bone itself and the tenderloin)

The following steaks come from the Sirloin section of the carcass with the boneless top sirloin and whole tenderloin being the most common cuts . . . . .

Boneless Top Sirloin - This tasty cut of meat comes from the removal of the bone and tenderloin leaving the sirloin cut for steaks.

Whole Tenderloin - This cut, one of the best, is that portion that was removed from the Top Sirloin, the Porterhouse and the T-bone cuts. This Whole Tenderloin can then be divided into three (3) other cuts of meat, being . . . .

    Filet Mignon Steaks
Pin Bone Sirloin

Flat Bone Sirloin

Round Bone Sirloin

Wedge Bone Sirloin


These steaks are generally best for grilling after a period of marinating and tenderizing. They should be grilled to no more than medium and then sliced cross grain into thin slices. This will keep the pieces more tender than otherwise. Also, if you can keep the cuts thicker than usual, then the meat has a chance of being more tender. One thing you can do for these steaks as well, is to baste them frequently during the grilling process.

Top Round Steak - This steak contains little marbling and thus will be tougher. It will need tenderizing to be as moist as possible.

Skirt Steak - This is usually a thin steak which needs to be tenderized before grilling. The source is from the inside chest cavity.

Flank Steak a/k/a London Broil - This guy has very little fat and as a result, can be somewhat tough. Usually some physical tenderizing and marinating help a lot.

Sirloin Tip Steak - This lean and therefore less tender steak is a part of the round.

Eye Of The Round - This piece of meat also needs to be tenderized. It is a course piece of meat which means it will be tough.





Chuck Blade


Standing Rib

Steamboat Round

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Get all of Smoky Hale's wisdom and become the best cook around. Learn to do it right!

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