Califonia Bountiful

Beef 101

What to look for in a good cut of beef.

Don’t know the difference between a short rib and a rib eye? Well you’re in luck, because we’re going to answer the age-old question of 'where’s the beef?'

At Vande Rose Farms Meat & Fish in Granite Bay, manager Mark Stewart is able to decode the sometime difficult language of beef to find the best cuts for his customers. He says once you know what to look for, finding the freshest cuts isn’t that hard.

Stewart says that just like produce you need to know what to look for in a good cut of beef. Along with a nice red color that indicates freshness, also look for fat around the edges that should be white to ivory in color and firm to the touch. Fat around the meat adds flavor and protects the meat from becoming dry during cooking. Fat also is a factor in the grading of beef—specifically the marbling.

“On beef items you basically want to look for nice marbling throughout,” said Stewart. “That’s what’s going to give you a really nice rich flavor.”

More marbling equals more tender and flavorful beef. And for those of you still unsure—prime grade has the most marbling and is the most flavorful, choice Grade has less marbling and select grade has even less and therefore needs a marinade to tenderize and help make the meat more flavorful.

Knowing what the best cuts of beef are is only part of equation to the perfect meal—the other part is cooking it up. At Sacramento’s Roxy Restaurant, executive chef Danny Origel serves up a variety of beef on his menu, that he has affectionately says has “a modern cowboy cuisine” to it.

Origel recommends allowing two minutes per side for each piece of meat. Then comes his kitchen secret—finishing off the meat in the oven. He says this process lets the seasoning permeate into the meat and gives you a tender flavorful fillet. Cook at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes then remove and let the meat rest for a few minutes before serving it up.

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