Sunday, September 12, 2010

Choosing Lean Cuts of Meat

I don't know about you but I am just intimidated by choosing cuts of beef and pork. If it's not listed in the recipe or if I want to do a substitution, I wander up and down the meat department, helplessly trying to decipher and decide. Does the word "loin" imply a leaner cut of pork? What's the difference between choice and prime beef? It might be very unusual for someone who likes cooking so much but when it comes to cuts of meat, I'm a complete novice.

In the past, I've assumed that more expensive equals leaner but I'm sure that's not always the case. Also, our budget (and my naturally Scrooge-y self) only allows for filet mignon or pork tenderloin for special occasions.

So after choosing what I assumed was a leaner cut of pork for our pulled pork last night and being sadly mistaken (I was deceived by the lack of visible fat), I realized I needed to start learning a thing or two about choosing cuts of meat - specifically, lean cuts of meat. And since I might not be the only one who's ever wondered the same thing, I figured I would pass along a little newfound knowledge!

No matter what cut you choose, look for meat that is antibiotic-free and 100% vegetarian-, pasture- or grass-fed (otherwise, there's a good chance that these animals are being fed parts of other animals which is disgusting, not to mention unnatural). Since buying these meats will probably be more expensive pound for pound, buy small quantities. But this doesn't mean that you have to go hungry. Here are a few tricks to make a little go a long way. You can try adding the meat to a dish with several other ingredients (think kabobs, tacos or pasta) to make a little seem like a lot. Or have the meat stand alone but use more filling sides (sides with beans can be a good choice) to round out the meal.

Information from here and here.

-Certain words on packaging indicate cuts that are lower in fat: round, chuck, sirloin or tenderloin. Here are some cuts to look for:
  • eye of round
  • top round steaks and roasts and sirloin
  • top loin
  • tenderloin steaks
-When buying ground beef, choose at least 85 or 90 percent lean. (Also, remember to drain off the fat after cooking the ground beef.)
-Choose "Choice" or "Select" beef, not "Prime," which usually has more fat.

Pork (and Lamb)
Information from the same source as beef.

-Leanest cuts of pork include the tenderloin, loin chops or leg (the same is true for lamb as well).
-Look for these cuts of pork:
  • pork tenderloin
  • boneless top loin roast
  • bone-in sirloin roast
  • boneless top loin chop
  • bone-in rib chop

How to Prepare:
In case you're wondering the classic ways to prepare each cut, here's a helpful Everyday Food article: How to Choose (and Prepare) a Steak

No comments:

Post a Comment