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P.33

FOOD AND DIET

 

Beef jointHOW TO SELECT A GOOD PIECE OF BEEF

Selecting your cut

From Sunday roast to boeuf bourguignon, beef has been a favourite for generations. But which cut should you choose? Our guide gives you the lowdown, from neck to rump via all the bits in between, and suggests the best method of cooking for each. When buying beef, you should make sure the meat is red, as brown colouring shows that it's been open to the air for some time. The meat should be firm to the touch. Fat should be creamy coloured and it's better if there's some fat flecked - or marbled - throughout the meat, as this makes it more tender. Since the BSE crisis in Britain, some traditional cuts of beef are no longer available. Material that's considered to have a risk associated with it, such as the spinal cord, is now removed in abattoirs before it reaches your local butcher. Brisket: This cheaper cut from the belly of the animal can be bought with or without bones as a joint for slow-roasting, or for stewing and casseroling as cubes or mince. Chuck or blade: Taken from the shoulder, this cut is similar to neck, but can also be bought as a roasting joint. As this joint isn't as tender as other cuts of beef, it needs slow-roasting to achieve best results. Steaks and diced meat from the chuck are ideal for casseroles, or even braising. Chuck meat is leaner than neck, which makes it ideal for people who are watching their fat intake, but might not want to pay for premium cuts.

Flank: Sometimes called thick flank or thin flank, depending on the thickness of the meat, determined by which part of the animal it comes from. The flank is quite lean and is generally useful for casseroles and curries or for slow-roasting. It needs to retain the moisture that would be lost in quick-roasting. Forerib: Taken from the back of the animal, forerib is a useful roasting cut. Sometimes, the ends of the bones are cut off to make a separate joint. You may wish to buy a forerib joint boned and rolled, so that stuffing and carving is easier. Although more tender than some of the cheaper cuts, the forerib still needs cooking for longer than premium joints. It's a mid-priced cut. Neck or clod: The meat from the neck of beef contains quite a large amount of fat and isn't as tender as the premium cuts. This makes it ideal for slow-cooking. Neck can be bought as steaks or ready-diced, which is perfect for casseroles and stews. Price-wise, the cut is relatively cheap, so it's possible to buy more meat than you need if you wish to take the time to trim the fat further. Ribs: Taken from the side of beef, ribs can be bought on the bone or as a boned-and-rolled joint. Similar to sirloin, but not as tender, the ribs make an ideal, mid-priced roasting joint. Rump: Rump is similar to sirloin, but slightly less tender, so it's a little cheaper. The steak cuts are generally lean, but do require more care when cooking. Shin: The shin of beef is from the front leg and the leg cut is from the hind limb. Both are cheaper cuts as they contain quite a large amount of connective tissue. However, this makes them ideal for stews and casseroles as it melts down during the long, slow cooking and gives extra flavour to the sauce. You could make stock from the shin or leg if the bone is left in the joint. The joint can be slow-roasted. Sirloin: Sirloin is the premium cut of beef, which costs quite a bit more per kilo than some other cuts, but is more tender, so will taste better with less cooking. Sirloin can be bought as a joint for roasting, on the bone or boned and rolled. Fillets are often removed from the roasting joints, and are then sold separately as steak. Fillet steaks are also the premium steak cut from beef. Sirloin can tolerate high temperatures, which makes it ideal for grilling and frying as steaks or oven-roasting as a joint. Topside and silverside: Two separate cuts of slightly different quality. Topside is similar to rump and can be roasted as a boneless joint. It's not quite as tender as sirloin, so can't stand high temperatures as well, but if treated with care, will provide an excellent roast. Silverside is a coarser cut of beef than topside and doesn't roast as well. It's often used for making boiled beef dishes or mince. However, there are no bones in silverside which means that it provides a great deal of meat per kilo.

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