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Are you wondering how to choose the best beef for your cooking needs? However you choose to cook the beef you select, the same criteria apply to choosing beef. Select meat that is bright red with veins of fat, or marbling, through it. The red color indicates that the beef is freshly cut. The fat running through the meat provides juiciness and flavor. As the beef cooks the fat will run off the meat, separating itself so you are not eating large amounts of fat, which is not healthy for you. Fat around the edges of the beef should be white to ivory and firm to the touch. Before cooking your steaks, check for large pieces of fat and trim it away. The fat adds flavor and protects the meat from becoming dry during cooking too much fat remaining in a pan after cooking can affect the sauce or gravy. A good rule of thumb is to trim the fat to about 1/8 inch thick.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grades beef for meat packers. Marbling is the chief criteria for how beef is graded and priced in U. S. The more marbling throughout beef, the more tender, flavorful, and costly the beef will be. The highest quality, prime beef is rarely found in grocery stores. Most of the prime cuts go to the high classed restaurants. Choice meat, which is well marbled and tender, can be found at the quality markets and butchers.
Select meat, with contains little or no marbling, is the most commonly stocked grade of beef. For the best taste and tenderness, buy USDA choice beef over select meat. Officially graded beef will carry the USDA designation; otherwise the grade has been determined by the grocery store you are purchasing the meat from.
Grass fed beef is becoming more desirable and available in some markets. As the public becomes more informed about the additives being fed to the beef they are purchasing, the more popular grass fed beef is becoming. Grass fed beef is a bit lower in marbling and fat then corn fed beef. However, grass fed steaks can be quite tender and have a wonderful beef flavor.