Who doesn’t love a good steak? But have you ever wondered where that steak, or roast, or hamburger, came from on the cow? The latest episode of Basics with Babish, episode 46, takes a look at how we get our beef.
For starters, did you know that “cows” refers to bovine mothers and meat from this type of cattle is typically only used in ground beef? The highest quality meats are usually harvested from steers and heifers—castrated males and unbred females. Heifers tend to be a bit sweeter and fatter. There are four main sections for preparing beef. Butchers will actually count ribs to make sure that they are pulling from the right area. From the front working back, those sections are called chuck, rib, round, and loin. Some meats will be tougher, but will also have better flavor. These areas, like the chuck from the shoulder, so they need to be slow cooked to soften up the connective tissue. But because connective tissue breaks down at 195 degrees and beef dries out at 165 degrees, you have to cook it slow. As you get into the more tender cuts, a pan is a better option. Bone-in Ribeye should be cooked to medium-rare or medium to help break up the fat and fibers.
The process of cooking the meat is similar to what you do when chewing it. In fact, cooking it could be considered pre-chewing. The result is the meat being denatured—and delicious. A big part of getting the perfect steak cooked is knowing the piece of meat, which means understanding where they come from and how they’re used by the animal. When you know the fibers and the fat content, you’ll be better informed on how best to cook the meat. You can find all the knowledge you need in Basics with Babish’s Every Cut of Beef video. The most important thing to know? Buy your meat from a trusted source.