It is to your advantage, and to the family’s food budget, to know your cuts of beef. If you know exactly what section of the animal they come from you can save by buying meat which is lower priced because it is in less demand. By knowing how to prepare these tougher portions, you can get the ultimate in flavor and tenderness!
These are the wholesale cuts from which your penny-saving selections will come:
- From the fore end of the carcass you can buy chuck and shank.
- From the mid undersection you will buy brisket, short plate and flank.
- From the far or aft end you will purchase rump and round.
The successful ways of making these are braising and cooking in liquid. Both are classed as “moist heat” methods. Long, slow cooking in “moist heat” in which product is surrounded by steam or hot liquid softens the connective tissue–that part which is tougher.
So with proper technique, wonders can be worked with selections that are considerably less expensive than steaks and rib roasts!
Before offering you a chart, which clipped and pasted onto a card for your recipe file will be your purchasing as well as preparation guide, let’s highlight these methods of cookery…
How to Braise:
- Sear product on all sides slowly in a heavy utensil. This develops the nice brown color and also adds to the flavor. You may or may not dredge in flour first–it does help to develop a deeper brown–but if you do, fat should be added to the pan. When not flour-dredged, it may be seared without fat being added.
- After browning season with salt and pepper; spices, herbs and vegetables may also be added. Seasoning is important with these cuts and you can do much to add flavor to the end product by adding an extra dash of seasoning at this stage of cooking.
- The next step is to add a small amount of liquid. This may be water, broth or soup stock, water from boiled vegetables (which you thoughtfully saved instead of poured down the sink) or sour cream. Cover the utensil with a tightly-fitting lid. This will hold in the steam which is necessary for softening the connective tissue.
- Now cook slowly at a reduced temperature; this means over low heat, a simmer and not a boil. It may be done on top of the range or in the oven; if in the oven do not set temperature over 300°F. Cooking too rapidly over high heat will result in a dry and not-so-tender end product. It will most surely afford fewer servings. One of the penalties in ignoring this rule is shrinkage and if you are economy minded, you don’t want to shrink your savings!
A tasty accompaniment of any braised meat is the gravy made from the juices in which it was simmered and heated. It also contains good food nutrients too. So serve this as a sauce or gravy; it may be thickened if desired.
How to Cook In Liquid:
- Brown as described for braising. Cover with water or stock. This is the principal difference between this method of cookery and braising–product is entirely covered with liquid. Season well. Try one or a combination of these in addition to the usual salt and pepper: Marjoram, bay leaves, parsley, thyme, celery and onion tops, cloves, garlic, peppercorn, tomatoes or green pepper.
- Simmer, tightly covered, until tender. Overdone or boiled, it will be flavorless and stringy, hard to slice. And it will also shrink! If you plan to serve the meat cold, let it cool and then chill it in the stock. This preserves flavor and prevents shrinkage.
Here Are The Money-Saving Cuts:
|From||You Get||Braise||Simmer in Liquid|
|Round||Ground Beef||Anything Goes!|
|Heel of Round||X||X|
|Rump||Round Steak, Top & Bottom Round (Swiss)||X|
|Flank||Flank Steak and Fillets||X|
|Short Plate||Plate Boiling Beef, Rolled Plate & Short Ribs||X||X|
|Shank||Shoulder Knuckle||X Soup|
|Cross Cut Fore Shank||X||X|
|Chuck||Arm Pot Roast and Arm Steak||X|
|Rolled Boneless Neck||X||X|
Braise chuck, rump and heel of round 3 1/2 to 4 hours for 3-5 pound cuts. Allow 1 1/2 to 2 hours for 2 pounds of round (Swiss) steak cubed 1 inch thick and 1 1/2 hours for 1 1/2 to 2 pounds flank steak.
Simmer in liquid 3 to 4 hours for 4 pounds of shanks, 4 to 6 hours for 4 to 8 pounds corned beef brisket. Allow 4 to 6 hours for 8 pounds fresh beef brisket or plate.
Source: Vintage WorkBasket Magazine (1954)