“Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire.” – Exodus 12-9
If the good Lord says that’s what needs to be done, who am I to argue? But it seems there may be too many cuts of meat at the butcher to decide? Ribeye or Porterhouse? Tenderloin or Sirloin? The more you look the more you may get confused. That’s okay, cause the only way to learn is to try them all!!! So let’s fire up the grill and the smoker and let’s get started.
There are 8 cuts of meat on the cow. Running from the back of the head along the spine to the butt there are the 5 cuts called Chuck, Rib, Loin, Sirloin and Round. From the front leg along the belly to the back end there are the 3 cuts called Brisket, Plate and Flank. Simple enough, right?
Chuck – This area offers up more than just a few cuts of meat for your grill. These include the Blade, the Roast, Flat Iron Steaks, Country Style Ribs and Bone-In short Ribs. The larger of these can be cooked in Dutch ovens with vegetables for longer periods of time to help make more tender. The juices can then be used to make wonderful sauces and gravies. The Flat Iron steak has been marinated overnight and taken on many camping trips, tossed on a campfire grill for a few minutes each side and sliced for fajitas.
Rib – Ribeye Roast (Prime Rib), Bone-In Ribeye Steaks and Back Ribs come from this section of the cow. Try the Prime Rib Roast sometime. Tell the butcher you want it to be bright red with marbled fat throughout. Dry rub with onion powder, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Slow smoke till a rare 125ºF internal temp hits your thermometer and pull from heat to rest. Slice thick and serve with strained pan juices. Ribeye steaks can be dusted with a Montreal type steak seasoning and grilled to a wonderful medium as well. Serve those with a baked potato or crab legs…whatever your budget can afford. The Back Ribs can be slow grilled and sauced for a Texas style barbecue.
Loin – This is the holy land when it comes to the cow. There are Porterhouse, T-Bones, Strip Steaks and Tenderloins running rampant through this section. These are tender, juicy and if grilled well may be the best meal you’ve ever eaten. Tenderloins are sliced thick and wrapped in bacon to make the French Fillet Mignon. These steaks are great on the grill or even in a cast iron skillet if cooked properly. Season well, cook to medium and let rest before devouring like a hyena on a diet.
Sirloin – Sirloin Steaks may require a bit more seasoning and more marinating to help break down the meat. Still tender but not like those from the loin area. Ground Sirloin is a leaner meat than that usually used in hamburgers. There is also a Sirloin roast and the Coulette Roast. Both are very good oven roasted at 350ºF for an hour with a simple dusting of Lipton Onion Soup Mix and basted with some beef stock while cooking. Baby spinach and red skin potatoes are nice sides with these roasts.
Round – Top Round Steaks, Bottom Round Roasts, Rump Roasts and Eye of Round come from the rear leg of the cow. These need to be cooked slow and low to breakdown the tissues and make the meat tender. Think crockpot all day with lots of veggies and seasonings. The house will smell amazing and the dinner will be delicious. Think rustic, skin on, garlic and sour cream mashed potatoes sidled up next to some freshly baked rolls. The strained juices will create an awesome gravy when added to a flavorful dark roux. Be sure to not overcook and slice thin. Perfect for open face roast beef sandwiches, layered on toasted sour dough slices with horseradish, or just eaten like a caveman with fingers right off the plate.
Brisket – This is one for the slow smoker for sure. Texas style rubs the brisket with potent seasonings and leaves in home sized smokers for hours on end. Once removed, chunks of brisket are returned to the smoker to create those wonderful hunks of love called Burnt Ends. In Jewish households, brisket is braised as a pot roast for holiday main courses like Rosh Hashanah, Passover, and the Sabbath. It is also the most popular cut for corned beef, which can be further spiced and smoked for that awesome lunch meat called Pastrami. Brisket was made for the smoker, was made to be eaten with sauce and was made to be chased with a beer on a Saturday night surrounded by other stuffed friends!
Plate & Flank – These cover the Flank Steak, Skirt Steak and Short Rib section of the cow. Like mentioned before, an overnight marinade of olive oil, vinegar, minced garlic, onions, rosemary, soy sauce and a splash or two of Tabasco makes for a great flavor profile for Flank Steak on a campfire grill. Cook a few minutes on each side and slice thin across the grain for wonderful pile of Fajita meat. A tin foil packet of slice peppers, onions, butter and cilantro work perfectly for Fajitas toppings and can be cooked at the same time. Try slicing the Skirt Steak thin and using a Wok to sauté a package of frozen Asian vegetables adding the meat as you go to create a wonderful Stir Fry meal. Serve with noodles or rice or in lettuce cups like little Asian Burritos.
That’s about it when it comes to the cow. You have roasts, ribs, steaks and burger meat all at the palm of your butchers hand. Ask him for some tips or ideas when it comes to preparing beef. Check your budget, look in your pantry and spice racks and think outside the box. Remember to look at the cut and decide the correct cooking method: grilling, smoking, roasting or crockpot. Once again, be inspired to try new things in grilling and in life.
Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em and don’t forget your bib.