08 May Beef Cuts and BBQing
As summer approaches, pit masters all around are starting to break out their aprons, take out the tongs and roll out the barbecuer. Beef is the most common and is quite popular when it comes to barbecuing.
Whether you’re a barbecue enthusiast, are still mastering your technique or are just along for the yummy ride, knowing your cuts of beef is important in the barbecuing world.
Brisket is an all around favorite. It is a cut of meat from the lower breast of the cow and includes the super facial and deep pectoral muscles. These muscles contain a large amount of connective tissue because they support more than half of the cattle’s body weight. In order to tenderize that potentially tough connective tissue, brisket needs to be cooked at a low temperature and slowly. Cooking the brisket “low and slow” will allow the collagen to gelatinize, giving a tenderer cut of meat. Many pit masters aim for a crusty, flakey, flavorful bark around the brisket, as it is a sign of a good brisket.
Back ribs are the upper set of ribs (typically numbers 5-12). There is less meat and more bone on back ribs which is why most people prefer short ribs to back ribs. Because of the high amounts of connective tissue contained in back ribs, a low and slow cooking method is recommended.
Short ribs are cut from the plate or rib area and are 2-6 inches long. This popular cut of meat also requires a low and slow cooking style in order to be tender and flavorful. English style short ribs are cut parallel to the bone and are typically boneless. Flanken ribs are cut perpendicularly in a slab and contain bone.
The clod is cut from the shoulder of the cow and is one the least expensive cuts of beef. The muscles found in the area of the cow range in tenderness and toughness. Clod is best cooked for long periods of time at low temps which will help even out the tenderness/toughness throughout your cut. Others prefer to braise it for a flavorful result. These cuts are typically larger than other cuts; this needs to be considered when it comes to cooking times.
Chuck cuts are cut from the lower part of the shoulder/neck. This area can include ribs, steaks, or roasts. This area has a lot of marbling which equates to loads of flavor and tenderness. Like many cuts, chuck is best cooked with the low and slow method.
Tri-tips are cut from the bottom sirloin and have a similar taste. Tri-tips are very popular for barbecuing and grilling. They only include one muscle, the tensor fasciae latae. These muscle fibers are all parallel with each other, resulting in an extremely tender cut of meat. Tri-tips are a very small cut of meat, only five pounds. Once the fat is trimmed off, the edible portion is only two or three pounds.