Q10: When I go to the grocery store to buy beef, I usually opt for the usual ground chuck or sirloin steak due to their availability. What's the difference between these cuts? And how do they compare to some of the other options out there?
A10: To learn the difference between these two cuts (and several more), it's best to learn about the Eight Primal Cuts of Beef: chuck, rib, short loin, sirloin, round, brisket/shank, short plate, and flank.
- Chuck is essentially the shoulder of the animal which runs from the neck down to the 5th rib. It is full of flavor and connective tissue, and is usually ground or slow cooked when served as a roast.
- The rib area is from the 6th to the 12th rib and is where prime rib and rib-eye steaks come from. Common ways of cooking ribs include smoking, grilling, pan frying, and roasting.
- The short loin defines the area between the last (13th) rib and the hip, and consists of two main muscles: the tenderloin and the shell.
- The tenderloin runs along both sides of the spine, and thus is extremely tender due to the lack of motion in that area. It's common to pan sear or roast the tenderloin, or else slice into steaks (filet mignon) and cook individually. Since the tenderloin makes up such a small fraction of an animal, along with the fact that it is so tender, you can usually expect this to be the most expensive cut.
- The shell contains well known cuts including strip, T-bone, and Porterhouse steaks; all of which are great for the grill.