Meat has been a staple human food for as long as there have been people. Few aromas are more comforting than the scent of a slow-cooking roast beef or as synonymous with summer nights as that of a steak on a grill. But if you are a new cook or you're new to buying meat, recognising the different cuts of meat and deciding how to cook them can be confusing. Do you roast a London broil? Can you grill an eye of round? What the heck is a brisket? Don't panic. All you need is a beef chart, a little practice---maybe one of those cool chef hats---and you'll be cooking in no time.
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Download and print out a beef chart, or ask your local butcher or meat-counter person if they can give you one.
Find the cut of beef you want to know about, or that's specified in your recipe, on the beef chart.
Get familiar with its shape, the distribution of fat (marbling) in it, and whether it has a bone or not. Also look for the direction in which the muscle fibres run.
Take the chart to the market with you and practice recognising the cut of meat without looking at the label on the package or at the little sign in the butcher case.
Tips and warnings
- Some cuts of beef are known by more than one name, so compare several different charts. Also, some beef cuts are regional---such as tri-tip---so make sure your chart applies to the place where you live.
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