Vincent and vincent,Jr vintage photo The selection process is crucial. It begins with fresh sides of beef that usually come from the Midwest. Only those cattle graded PRIME by the United States Agriculture Department are even considered. It is then important to examine the color, fat conformation and bones.

Vintage photo of butchers at John's Meat Market

The color must be pink with an even conformation of fat dispersed throughout. This is referred to as marbling. If selected, the loin is brought back to the store where the dry aging process begins.

Nick Losavio 2009

The prime beef is kept in a temperature controlled cooler where air circulates around them. After the meat is properly aged, it is brought up and butchered for you.



All cuts of meat have varing traits.

These characteristics affect the quality of the meat.

Dry-aged

Hanging Meat

Dry-aging is a process by which meat is tenderized. The meat will be hung in a cold locker with a temperature of 32 to 38 degrees for three to six weeks, which breaks down the fibers and makes the meat tender.

Marbled

The presence of grains of fat in a cut is called marbling. In prime cuts, the marbling will be fine and will generally travel in one direction. Big pieces of marbling don't tenderize the meat as well.

Quality meats carry a GRADE. This is the level of quality of the meat you buy as determined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Although there are several grades, only three are commonly used.

Lower-quality meats are usually sold without a USDA stamp, and often carry meaningless names like "market choice". If meat doesn't carry a USDA Grade donĀ“t waste your money on it. The most common grades are:

Prime

Grade A Prime The highest and best-tasting grade of meat. Prime is characterized by even marbling and a layer of creamy fat. It makes up only about one-and-a-half percent of meat coming out of the wholesale markets.

Choice

This is the medium grade choice and is what you'll usually find in the supermarket. Since there s a wide range of quality within this category, look for the primary clue to quality marbling.

Select

This is what you find in many canned products.





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photo of assorted meats

Are you confused over which cut of meat is best for the meal you are preparing?

Do you wonder which is the best grade of meat?


Then this is the right place to be!

The staff of is always available to help with your selection, but it can't hurt for you to brush up on some of the terminology. Don't worry though, there isn't a test at the end!

meat cuts

Regardless if it is beef or lamb, all animals have the same basic arrangement. The parts you get from the forequarter - the front legs, neck and breast - tend to be less tender and are best used for braising and stewing.

The hindquarter sections - the back legs, loin and ribs - are more tender and great for grilling, roasting, and soups. This is where your filet, sirloin and round are found.

Some common cuts of meat are:

Pork Chops

Center Cut Chops

These cuts come from the rib or loin section. You will most often hear this term when refering to lamb, pork and veal.

Chopped Meat

Chuck - Ground

Derived from the neck and shoulder blade areas, this is best for slow-cooking and chopped meat.

crown

Crown Roast

The rib bones of a lamb or pork loin tied into a circle.



Porterhouse Steak

Porterhouse

This huge cut includes portions of the tenderloin and top loin and contains the T-bone. Tenderloin and NY Strip Steaks.


bottom round steak

Round

Oyster cut London Broil pictured. This meaty cut comes from the hind section connected to the tender sirloin. .


shank steak

Shank

The shank comes from the leg of a cow, pig or lamb. This is the cut used for osso buco.


Boneless shell steak

Short Loin

The area located in the center of the back between the ribs and the sirloin has two main sections: the tenderloin and the NY Strip. Very Tender!

Boneless Sirloin

Sirloin

A tender cut of meat located near the rear section of the back, behind the short loin. This is usually made into steaks or roasts.

Skirt Steak

Skirt

Though skirt, which comes from the diaphragm has a lot of flavor, best when marinated.


Shell Steak

Strip

Also called a New York steak, New York strip steak or shell steak. The strip is a part of the top loin. A boneless steak.

Flitet Minon

Tenderloin

Filet mignon comes from the tenderloin which is the top of the loin in beef. It is the Most Tender cut.

Cowboy Steak

Top Loin - Prime RIb

This front part of the short loin yields the tastiest Roast - Can be cut into Rib Eye Steaks and Cowboy Steaks.

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