Meat-It's What's for Dinner

Chef Class Week 13- What's your beef?


Tonight started two weeks of “Meat”-beef, pork, lamb and veal. I had a picture in my head of Tim Allen grunting like a caveman while grilling a 72 oz. Porterhouse steak when I walked into class. Men do tend to love their red meat, and I do too, every so often. Red meat has amino acids that chicken and fish don’t have and is high in iron, so women shouldn’t be afraid to order a nice filet mignon every month or so.

This evening’s class dealt with the anatomy of the animals and dry cooking techniques like grilling, frying, broiling and roasting. I’m really hoping they don’t test us with an outline of a cow or a pig and instructions to “fill in the cuts…” There are a lot to know!

First, we went over how a cow is fed. Many of us want to buy meat from cows that are “grass fed.” Actually, ALL cows are grass fed, either they are allowed to graze or fed hay. Then, they’re given corn and grain to fatten them up before they end up on our plates. Corn increases fat content.
Related Imagery
Wiener Schnitzel and Spaetzle
Spaetzle Dough
Fresh Spaetzle
Marbling increases with fat content, obviously. Cows that are grass fed from start to finish have less fat and taste a bit different. They’re more muscular, so they’re naturally leaner. For all cows, pigs, lamb and sheep, the most tender area is that around the loin. This region starts from behind the shoulder and goes to the rump. These are the best cuts of meat for high heat, dry cooking.

The ribs have good marbling, so rib-eye and prime rib (or standing rib roast if you want to get fancy) are very tasty options. Because they’re bone-in, they have lots of flavor.

Next is the center loin or short loin, where the tenderloin is from. This area is known for extremely tender meat with very little connective tissue. You’ll see a very thin skin around the area; this is called “silver skin” and can be easily removed if desired. Filet Mignon is cut from the tenderloin. This cut is great for pan searing. The center cut from the loin is the Chateaubriand. It’s like the filet, only bigger and is usually prepared for two people.

Now for the two favorite cuts of men who grill everywhere: the T-bone and the Porterhouse steaks! The T-bone is made up of two different steaks connected by a T-shaped bone. It’s half tenderloin/half NY strip steak. The porterhouse is almost the same, but has a little more tenderloin and a little less strip, as it is cut from the rear end of the short loin. The short loin is considered the best section for meat and also includes strip steaks, roasts, sirloin and related cuts like tri-tip.

The plate and flank sections are around the belly of the animal. This is where you get skirt steak, good for Carne Asada, and flank steak, which is leaner than skirt. Both are delicious grilled and benefit greatly from marinades to tenderize the meat before cooking. Because these cuts are less tender, the grain will show more. Make a note to slice against the grain when serving.

Hanger steaks are considered a “butcher’s cut.” They get their name because they literally hang from the kidneys. Butchers like to keep this for themselves as it is more tender than people realize and is very tasty grilled or pan seared. Flat Iron steaks are also a butcher’s cut. This is a small section of the shoulder muscle and is named because it is shaped like a flat iron.

The round section is a bit tougher than the others. Top round steaks are better cooked to medium-rare doneness so they don’t get too tough. These cuts of meat are perfect thinly sliced for cutlets or rolled meat dishes. Pounding the cutlets helps to tenderize the meat. Bottom round is better for braising and stewing, which I’ll talk about next week.

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  • Snooth User: Witkacy
    244937 0

    "Red meat has amino acids that chicken and fish don’t have." Which one?

    Feb 19, 2012 at 12:29 AM

  • Snooth User: Witkacy
    244937 0

    "ALL cows are grass fed, either they are allowed to graze or fed hay. Then, they’re given corn and grain to fatten them up before they end up on our plates."
    True, but some of them are additionally "fed". Choline, L-carnitine and more (GH) supplemented food. Not too save too anybody who wants to live a little longer.

    Feb 19, 2012 at 12:35 AM

  • Snooth User: Rona Lewis
    359096 115

    Witkacy, you're right. I "miswrote' that statement. Protein of all kinds have all the essential aminos, but compared to chicken, beef does have more of some like serine, alanine and glycine. Fish has more of the aminos that keep you satiated. I should have checked my work. Luckily, i have readers like you to keep me honest. Thank you! Are you a biologist or doctor?

    Feb 19, 2012 at 11:38 AM

  • Snooth User: the deegs
    337833 4

    Most of the beef that is consumed is from either steers or heifers. Cows are generally made into hamburger as they have tougher meat. If beef animals are fed corn their fat is more yellow. If they are fed barley their fat is whiter.

    Feb 19, 2012 at 4:36 PM

  • Snooth User: Rona Lewis
    359096 115

    Great info, the deegs! Good to know.

    Feb 19, 2012 at 6:49 PM

  • Snooth User: Witkacy
    244937 0

    Both, with some understatement to each part.

    Feb 19, 2012 at 9:14 PM

  • Snooth User: Rona Lewis
    359096 115

    Wow! AND you cook! You're perfect! :)

    Feb 19, 2012 at 9:48 PM

  • Snooth User: Witkacy
    244937 0

    I like Wiener schnitzels. Today, no more made from veal, at least not in my kitchen. Now, they are Wiener Schnitzel vom Schwein. Still will serve them with a lemon wedge or two.
    As you probably know they came somewhere from the Central/Eastern Europe. Hapsburg (Habsburg) empire. They could have Jewish, German, Slavic or even Italian origin.
    May be someone knows?

    Feb 19, 2012 at 10:21 PM

  • Snooth User: Rona Lewis
    359096 115

    I have an Austrian friend of mine who's a chef. He says they come from around his country. I'm half Austrian and my Mom made these growing up, sometimes with chicken....but we're Jewish and I grew up kosher, so the cuts were probably different. Certainly not pork! LOL

    Feb 19, 2012 at 11:17 PM

  • Snooth User: Witkacy
    244937 0

    I am not Austrian and my mom did it once a week, when she was in a good mood.
    The Wikipedia says:
    "There is a debate as to where schnitzel originated. Some say it appeared in Vienna during the 15th or 16th century. One hypothesis is that it could have been brought to Austria during the Battle of Vienna in 1683 by Polish and German troops. According to another hypothesis, it was introduced in 1857 by Field Marshal Radetzky, who spent much of his life in Milan. The term Wiener Schnitzel itself dates to at least 1845."
    The 1683 battle was with Ottoman empire. It does not help too much.
    I would believe, just by taste and composition (including veal!), it might be Italian.
    What do you think?

    Feb 20, 2012 at 12:10 AM

  • It is not easy to find prime beef. It was recently spec'd for a client dinner (client of personal chef). After inquiring around south-central/NJ - Philadelphia, I found few butchers that sold it and when we got it, it was not labeled as such so we were taking the word of the seller. Although priced high, it was not possible to determine its authenticity and since it tasted no better than certain other cuts at the same dinner, it was suspect. I've had Kobe steak at a Japanese specialty restaurant ,and, in that case, I can only say it was excellent but clearly not worth the premium paid. High end rated beef is hard to assess in terms of value when seller trust vs buyer objectivity becomes the decision criteria.

    Feb 20, 2012 at 7:36 AM

  • Snooth User: Rona Lewis
    359096 115

    Witkacy, after talking to some friends (chefs and owners of restaurants), it seems to be the consensus that most cultures had some version of this....much like fried dough--from the Italian zeppoli to the Amish funnel cakes, it's basically the same thing! The Italian-American Chicken/Veal Parmesan dish is basically Weiner Schnitzel with some sauce and cheese on top.

    Street Person, it IS hard to find Prime Meat. A former executive chef at the BLT here in LA tells me even he has to make sure by sight and feel that the meat is as good as he can get it.

    Feb 20, 2012 at 1:02 PM

  • Snooth User: Witkacy
    244937 0

    Thank you.
    Sorry, this is just my curiosity. My German is rather poor. However, I remember from my piano lessons playing something like Wiener Blut or Wiener Boheme (don’t recommend it, under any circumstances). In your article you use Weiner, not Wiener. I suspect, you have to have a good reason for this spelling. May I know what it is?

    Feb 21, 2012 at 1:25 AM

  • Snooth User: Kate Statton
    Hand of Snooth
    853836 1,080

    Witkacy - thanks for pointing that out! I'm almost fluent in German and still didn't catch it while editing. A good pt to remember when spelling in German is that ie will always take the e - pronunciation while ei will always sound like i.

    Feb 21, 2012 at 10:53 AM

  • I grew up in Vienna, Austria and developed quite s fondness for Schnitzel -- both WIENER Schnitzel (veal) and SCHWEIN Schnitzel (pork). I make both at home and usually can't tell the difference. The key is a good mallet to pound the cutlets down so they are very thin. I can make a typical pork cutlet nearly plate size -- this is how they are served in many Viennese restaurants.

    Another technique is to rub the cutlets with fresh garlic prior to salting -- or if lazy sprinkle some granulated garlic on them. Make sure your oil is hot and fry them up and serve immediately -- ALWAYS with a generous lemon wedge, sprinkle with some chopped parsley and serve with aforementioned Spatzle -- wow, now I'm hungry!

    Feb 21, 2012 at 1:53 PM

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