How To Buy Beef Steaks 1968 -- Consumer and Marketing Service Home and Garden Bulletin 145, USDA,...|
How To Buy Beef Steaks |
Consumer and Marketing Service
Home and Garden Bulletin 145, USDA, 1968.
Issued February 1968
Archive copy of publication, do not use for current recommendations.
The PDF file was provided courtesy of the National Agricultural Library.
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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
A tender, juicy steak is a mealtime favorite of
millions of Americans. To make sure that your
steak will be tender and juicy, you need to know
something about both buying the beef and cook-
Many different cuts of beef are called "steaks"
—and any one of these cuts can vary in quality,
depending upon the kind of carcass from which
it came. But all are nutritious and all can pro-
vide good eating if properly prepared. The secret
lies in suiting the cooking method to the grade
and the cut you select.
About Beef Quality
Beef varies in quality more than any other
kind of meat. But you don't have to learn to
judge beef quality for yourself. USDA grades
are a reliable guide to meat quality-its tender-
ness, juiciness, and flavor. The grades are based
on nationally uniform Federal standards of qual-
ity and are applied by USDA graders. Therefore,
you can be sure that a USDA Choice porterhouse
steak, for example, will provide the same good
eating no matter where or when you buy it.
How Beef is Graded
Meat grading is a voluntary service provided by
USDA's Consumer and Marketing Service to meat
packers and others who request it and pay a fee
for the service. So not all meat is graded, al-
though a large percentage of it is.
USDA graders, who are highly trained in meat
quality, grade only whole carcasses or wholesale
cuts. This is because quality differences are dif-
ficult, or impossible, to recognize in the smaller
retail cuts. When the carcass is graded, a purple
shield-shaped grademark containing the letters
USDA and the grade name—such as Prime,
Choice, or Good—is applied with a roller-stamp.
The grade shield is rolled on, in a long ribbon-like
imprint, all along the length of the carcass and
across both shoulders. Then when the carcass is
divided into retail cuts, one or more of the grade-
marks will appear on most of these cuts.
Only meat which has first passed a strict in-
spection for wholesomeness may be graded. So
you may be sure when you see the grademark
that the meat came from a healthy animal and
was processed in a sanitary plant.
All meat processed in plants which sell their
products across State lines must, under Federal
law, be inspected for wholesomeness. This serv-
ice is another provided by USDA's Consumer and
Marketing Service. USDA meat inspectors also
supervise the cleanliness and operating proce-
dures of meat packing plants to assure that meat
is not contaminated or adulterated.
Meat which passes the USDA inspection for
wholesomeness is stamped with a round mark
which bears the legend "U.S. INSP'D & P'S'D."
This mark is placed only once on wholesale cuts.
So you are likely to see it only on large cuts of
meat—seldom on steaks. Packaged meat foods,
however, such as frozen dinners and canned
meats, are required to carry the inspection mark
on the label if they are to be sold in interstate
Learn to recognize both the inspection mark-
a circle—and the grademark—a shield. Remember
they mean different things. The inspection mark
tells you that the meat is clean and wholesome.
The grademark tells you the quality of the meat.
LOOK FOR THE GRADE
Each USDA beef grade is a measure of a dis-
tinct level of quality. Because beef can vary so
much in quality, it takes eight grades to span the
range. The three lowest grades-USDA Utility,
Cutter, and Canner— are seldom, if ever, sold as
retail cuts. They go mostly into ground beef or
into processed meat items such as hot dogs.
The grade most widely sold at retail is USDA
Choice. It is produced in the greatest volume and
retailers have found that this level of quality
pleases most of their customers. Some stores,
however, offer two grades-for example, Prime
and Choice or Choice and Standard-so that their
customers may have a choice of quality and price.
Pictured below are porterhouse steaks in each
of the first five grades, together with a descrip-
tion of the level of quality that can be expected
in each of those grades.
Prime grade beef is the
ultimate in tenderness,
juiciness, and flavor. It
has abundant marbling-
flecks of fat within the
lean —which enhances
both flavor and juiciness.
Steaks of this grade are
the best for broiling.
Most USDA Choice steaks
are good for broiling and
pan-broiling, too — they
will be very tender, juicy,
and f l a v o r f u l . Choice
grade beef has slightly
less marbling than Prime,
but still is of very high
Good grade beef often
pleases thrifty shoppers
because it is somewhat
more lean than the higher
grades. It is relatively
tender, but because it has
less marbling it lacks
some of the juiciness and
flavor of the higher
grades. Some stores sell
this quality of beef under
a "house" brand name
rather than under the
USDA grade name.
Standard grade beef has
a high proportion of lean
meat and very little fat.
Because it comes from
young animals, beef of
this grade is fairly tender.
But because it lacks
marbling, it is mild in
flavor and most cuts will
be somewhat dry unless
prepared with moist heat.
Commercial grade beef is
produced only from ma-
ture animals-the top four
grades are restricted to
young animals. It has
abundant marbling (com-
pare it with the Prime
grade above), and will
have the rich, full flavor
characteristic of mature
beef. However, Commer-
cial grade beef requires
long, slow cooking with
moist heat to make it
tender. When prepared in
this manner it can pro-
vide delicious and eco-
nomical meat dishes.
LOOK FOR THE CUT
Regardless of their quality grade, some cuts of
beef are naturally more tender than others. Cuts
from the less-used muscles along the back of the
animal—the rib and loin sections—will always be
more tender than those from the active muscles
such as the shoulder (chuck), flank, and round.
The most tender cuts make up only a small
proportion of the beef carcass—and they are in
greatest demand. Therefore, they command a
higher price than other cuts.
Names given beef cuts sometimes vary from
store to store and in different parts of the coun-
try. It would be impossible to list all of the varia-
tions here. Moreover, the same name may mean
different things in different parts of the country.
For example, a "Delmonico" steak is cut from
the ribeye in some parts of the country, while in
other areas it is cut from the chuck.
Chuck cuts probably get more variation in
terminology than any other. Some names
"coined" for steaks cut from the chuck and used
in various parts of the country include California,
Western, Cheyenne, petite butter, finger, break-
fast, his 'n hers-and there are many more.
The best guide in identifying beef cuts is the
standard terminology shown in the following
pages and generally recognized throughout the
meat industry. Many stores, fortunately, do em-
ploy these terms in identifying the meat cuts they
sell. The kind of bone in a cut also helps in iden-
tifying it. The T-bone and rib bone, for example,
indicate tender cuts, while a round bone, such as
in the arm chuck, means a less tender cut.
Along with the illustrations on the following
pages of the most widely sold and widely known
steaks are suggested cooking methods for these
cuts in various grades and approximate amounts
you'll need to buy per serving.
For greatest eating satisfaction, buy any steak
you intend to broil at least one inch thick. For
example, if you like medium-rare steak, you'll
find it difficult to achieve this degree of "done-
ness" with a thin steak.
TENDERLOIN ( F I L E T
MIGNON)-The most ten-
der of all steaks, the ten-
derloin has no bone and
very little fat. Broil or
pan-broil it in all grades.
Allow about 6 to 8 ounces
PORTERHOUSE - Often
considered the best steak,
the porterhouse usually
sells at a higher price
than other bone-in steaks.
It has a generous section
of tenderloin, which can
be removed and served
separately as filet mignon.
Broil or pan-broil in
Prime, Choice, and Good
grades. Porterhouse is a
good steak for special oc-
casions—and for such
events allow 12 to 16
ounces per person.
T-BONE—Very similar to
the porterhouse steak, but
with a smaller amount of
tenderloin, the T-bone
can be used in the same
fashion. Broil or pan-broil
it in Prime, Choice, and
Good grades. For gener-
ous servings, allow 12 to
16 ounces per person.
Pot-roast or Steak
Pot-roast or Steak
® Stew Meat or
Standing Rib Roast
Roast or Steak
© Short Ribs
Strip Loin Steak
(also from Sirloin 1,2,3)
® Stew Meat or
© Pin Bone
® Flat Bone
® Wedge Bone
Round Steak S»""d'"9
Top Round Steak
Sirloin Tip Roast
Heel of Round
© Stew Meat or
® Stew Meat or
Stew Meat or
© Flank Steak
CLUB STEAK-The club steak, like the porter-
house and the T-bone, is cut from the short loin.
It has the same large muscle as the porterhouse
and the T-bone, but has no tenderloin. Its rela-
tively small size makes this steak well suited to
individual servings. Allow 12 to 14 ounces per
person. Rib steaks are often sold as club steaks
since they, too, contain the same large muscle.
STRIP LOIN STEAK-This steak is the same as
the large muscle in both the porterhouse and the
T-bone. It is a very flavorful, tender steak which
may be broiled or pan-broiled in the Prime,
Choice, and Good grades. Allow 12 to 14 ounces
per person. This steak is also sold boneless-
in which case, allow 10 to 12 ounces per person.
The strip loin steak is often sold in restaurants
as a New York Strip steak or a Kansas City steak.
SIRLOIN-The sirloin is a large steak, which
makes it suitable for family or party fare. It con-
tains several different muscles and varies in size,
shape, and bone size. To get the most for your
money, look for one with a small amount of bone
(wedge or round bone); but for maximum tender-
ness, pick out a sirloin with a long, flat bone.
Sirloins are frequently cut into two boneless
steaks-top sirloin and bottom sirloin. The top
sirloin is the better of the two. Broil or pan-broil
in Prime, Choice, and Good grades; braise in
lower grades. For bone-in sirloins allow 8 to 10
ounces per person depending on amount of bone.
SIRLOIN TIP-This is a boneless steak, less
tender than the regular sirloin. Can be broiled
or pan-broiled in Prime and Choice grades. Braise
in lower grades. Allow 6 to 8 ounces per person.
RIB-This steak is cut from the rib section, and
includes the rib bone. It is sold as rib roast when
cut two or more ribs thick. It has a well-developed
flavor and is very tender; broil or pan-broil in
Prime, Choice, and Good grades. Allow 12 to 14
ounces per person. Often called a club steak.
BLADE CHUCK-This is an economical steak,
with a well-developed flavor, but it varies in
tenderness. The "first cut" of blade chuck (shown
in the picture) is the one adjacent to the rib roast
and contains a sizable extension of the ribeye
muscle-identified in the picture by the number
"1". In the Prime, Choice, and Good grades, this
portion may be cut out and broiled-it will make
a delicious and tender steak. Other sections of
this cut are definitely less tender and should be
cooked with moist heat (braised), as should Prime
and Choice chuck steaks which are not "first
cuts" and all lower grades of chuck steaks. Allow
about 10 to 12 ounces per serving. Stores some-
times cut small boneless steaks from the blade
chuck region and give them varied names.
RIBEYE—Cut from the eye of beef rib, this steak
is boneless, and has little fat. Like the rib steak,
it has a well-developed flavor and is very tender.
Broil or pan-broil in Prime, Choice, and Good
grades. Allow 8 to 10 ounces per person. The
ribeye steak is often called a Delmonico steak.
ARM CHUCK-Sold as steak in some stores, this
cut is best used as Swiss steak or braised. It is
definitely a less-tender cut, but it has a well-
developed flavor. It can be identified by the
round arm bone. It has very little waste; allow
about 6 to 8 ounces per person. Also called:
ROUND-Because it has very little waste, the
round steak is usually an economical buy. It is
not as flavorful and juicy as some of the other
steaks because it lacks marbling. The full round
contains three muscles which vary in tenderness.
It can be divided as shown.
a. top round-the tenderest of the three muscles,
can be broiled or pan-broiled in Prime and Choice
grades; braise the lower grades.
Also called inside round.
b. bottom round-not as tender as top; cook with
moist heat in all grades.
Also called outside round, bottom round is often
sold with the eye-of-the-round attached.
c. eye-of-round-also a
less tender cut, but when
sliced thin, Prime and
Choice grades can be
pan-broiled; cook with
moist heat in other
Allow about 6 to 8 ounces
per person for any of
these round steaks.
FLANK—Boneless steak,with very little fat. Defi-
nitely a less-tender cut, but it has a well-devel-
oped flavor. Braise, cook with moist heat, in any
grade. Allow 6 to 8 ounces per person. Many
restaurants list flank steak on the menu as
Help You Choose
l U S D A
l U S D A i
• U.S. Prime-Highest quality, most
tender, juicy, flavorful
• U.S. Choice—Most popular quality,
very tender, juicy, flavorful
• U.S. Good-Lean, fairly tender, not
as juicy and flavorful
l U S D A i
• Most tender-rib steaks, tenderloin,
porterhouse, T-bone, strip loin, club,
^Moderately tender-blade chuck,
• Least tender-arm chuck, flank
GPO : 19680—Z88-517
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents,
U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.
20402 - Price 10 cents
CONSUMER AND MARKETING SERVICE
HOME AND GARDEN BULLETIN NO. 145