By: Morgan Kontz
Originally posted on March 17, 2011 on Stories of a First Generation Farm Wife
If you are anything like me, before being a farm wife, I simply went to the grocery store and picked the meat that my recipe called for, not thinking anything of where the meat came from on the cow, or even worse yet, the farmer behind the production of that cow.
I now have a newfound appreciation for that farmer, because I am that farmer!
I refer to everything from a cow, but hamburger, as a “cut of beef.” There is quite a bit of science that is behind the muscle to meat conversion, but I am guessing you really don’t care about all that.
When it comes to choosing a cut of meat, it’s all about the tenderness, or at least how to get it tender. The tenderness is mainly determined by where the meat comes from on the cow. If you were to eat a steak cut from the leg chances are it’s going to be pretty tough. The leg is a muscle that is worked often during the cow’s life, obviously. So, any steak cut from the leg will be tough. That is why a lot of meat that comes from the legs, chest, and rump will be turned into roasts, briskets, or even ground up into hamburger.
The much-loved filet mignon – yummy! One of my favorites. The filet mignon is actually from the cow’s loin (or backbone). It sits just under the backbone. The filet is actually cut from the tenderloin. If you see the cow pictured below, you will notice that the “loin” cuts are all located pretty far away from some of the more muscular parts of the animal, such as the rump and legs. The loin cuts are considered the most tender on the animal. They are considered the most tender because they come from muscles that are worked the least during the cows life. However, the way you cook the meat can play a big part in how the meat turns out.
The brisket recipe I did a few weeks back is the slow and moist method, if you remember that. Steaks, on the other hand, are supposed to be cooked fast and in a dry environment, such as the grill.
Another important factor of cooking steaks is the temperature at which you cook them. The safest way is to use a meat thermometer and the meat to a degree of doneness. To achieve the results you are interested in, see the chart below.
When cooking steaks, it is important to take the steak off of the grill when it is 5 degrees away from being done. The steak will continue to cook itself while it’s sitting on the plate waiting to be eaten.
A meat thermometer will always ensure that the food is safe and that it is cooked to the correct degree of doneness. I use one every time I am cooking meat.
Most of the information in this blog is based on my knowledge of cooking cuts of beef, from what I have learned in college and what I have learned being a beef farmer.
I say that anything cooked past medium is really just like eating glorified hamburger. If you are one of those well-done-steak consumers, I encourage you to branch out and try ordering your steak medium-well – it might be a fun change of pace!