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Using Economy Cuts of Grassfed Beef

Ground Beef:  Before we start on the economy cuts, I’ll just briefly mention ground beef.
It is certainly economical, but most people have lots of ideas how to use it. Meadow Maid
Foods ground beef is lean, so you should never need to “drain the fat” after browning, or
worry about flare-ups on the grill. Some of our recipes for ground beef include:  
Tex Mex
Beef and Bean Chili
, Italian Meatball Soup, Meatballs, and Steamed Beef Balls.

Economy cuts discussed here include:

Some of the economy cuts are the most flavorful cuts on the beef. It is important to know
how to prepare them to create that quality eating experience that you seek. Not all economy
cuts have the same properties or should be cooked in the same manner. Know your cuts
before you cook.

The difference between a roast and a steak is the size of the piece of meat. Roasts can be
cut into smaller pieces called steaks, or even smaller, into stew meat, to accommodate the
style of cooking desired.

Round (top round, eye of round, bottom round, rump roast, tri-tip)
is a very lean cut taken from the rump and upper back leg of the animal. All Meadow Maid®
Foods stew meat is cut from top round. Our round steak is also cut from the top round.

Although some meat books recommend using round cuts for dry roasting or pot roasts, I find
these grassfed beef cuts to be too lean to create a good oven roast. Rump and tri-tip roasts
make nice pot roasts (see
No Fail Pot Roast). Leftover roast makes fantastic roast beef

Recipes and Methods for Grassfed Round:

Pan-fry or Grill: provided that the meat is sliced thinly and marinated overnight in a
tenderizing marinade prior to cooking quickly. Many tasty recipes may be created with
round, from steak salads to stir-fries, but be sure to include the long tenderizing marinade
step. Marinades also add great flavor. See recipes and tips for
Marinades, Fajitas, Korean
, Oriental Beef Stir-Fry.

Stew: cut round steak or eye of round into stew meat size pieces, or use Meadow Maid®
Foods stew meat, which is cut from top round. Use your favorite stew recipe, or try our
in Stout
, Beef and Black Bean Chili, and Wild West Cassoulet recipes. Generally, a stew takes
several hours to create, although it is simple to prepare and does not require constant
monitoring once the stewing process is started. Brown the meat to sear in the juices prior to
simmering slowly in water, stock, wine, or other liquids, perhaps adding vegetables for
enhanced flavor and depth. See additional stew notes,

Slow Cooked:Slow cooking in moist heat (braising) is an excellent way to prepare beef
round cut. The flavor and ingredient combinations are almost endless, and a good Dutch
oven or crock pot is an invaluable tool for braising.
Slow Cooked Round Steak merges Swiss
Steak with Oriental flavors for a rich-tasting, savory dish. Round can also be used for the
Oriental Beef with Potatoes recipe.

Chicken Fried Steak: this is one of my family’s favorite recipes for eye of round,
although not a very healthy dish. The meat is cut into thin, small steaks, then pounded even
thinner with a mallet to tenderize. Dip pounded steaks in seasoned flour, then in beaten egg,
and again in seasoned flour, and fry in butter or bacon grease. Top fried steaks with a cream
gravy or creamed sausage gravy, and serve with hash browned or mashed potatoes. Yummy,
but don’t do it very often!

The Chuck is cut from the shoulder of the animal. Bands of fat and connective tissues run
through the cut. Don’t stress the fat - remember, the fat contains most of the health
benefits of grassfed beef (omega-3 fats, vitamin E, and CLA). Chuck steak can also be cut
from the chuck roast.

The chuck is one of the most flavorful cuts of beef, but can be difficult to chew unless the
connective tissues are tenderized or dissolved by long, slow cooking (braising) or by
tenderizing marinades. Although chuck starts out tough, it becomes fork-tender and delicious
when properly cooked. Cook a chuck roast slowly under moist heat for good results.

Recipes and Methods for Grassfed Chuck:

Pot Roast: chuck makes the classic, fall-apart, fork tender pot roast, but you must cook it
slowly under moist heat to achieve good results - see
No Fail Pot Roast for the basic recipe
and ideas for left-over roast.  Pot roast also provides great beef stock for making nutritious
soups, and chuck releases nutritious gelatin into the stock. Pot roast can also be a starting
point for making beef BBQ sandwiches, shredded beef burritos, or roast beef sandwiches.  
Oriental Beef with Potatoes or Italian Chuck Roast with Pasta provides a tasty diversion from
standard roast fare.

Pan-fry or Grill: provided that the meat is marinated overnight in a tenderizing marinade
prior to cooking quickly, chuck steaks may be grilled or pan fried. Many tasty recipes may be
created with chuck, from stir-fries to fajitas, but be sure to include the long tenderizing
marinade step to break down the chewy connective tissues. Marinades also add great flavor.
See recipes and tips for
Marinades, Fajitas, and Oriental Beef Stir-Fry.

Although brisket is included in the economy cuts due to price, it is one of my favorite cuts of
beef. Very similar to the chuck, and cut from the lower shoulder/upper leg area just below
the chuck, it contains bands of fat and connective tissue similar to the chuck. These tissues
give the meat a wonderful flavor, but can be difficult to chew unless the meat is cooked
slowly in liquid. Brisket, like chuck, becomes fork tender when braised on low heat for 8-10

Use brisket in any pot roast recipe, Easy Day Brisket, or make my favorite: home-made
corned beef brisket without the chemical additives of store-bought versions! Brisket is also
excellent when smoked very slowly over low heat for several hours.

Sirloin Tip (top sirloin, ball tip)
The sirloin tip is cut from the round, close to the top round. The sirloin tip contains more fat
than the other, leaner “round” cuts, thus making it suitable for
pot roast and other braising
and roasting recipes, as well as
oven roasts.

Sirloin tip steaks are very similar in quality to top round steaks; thus make great fajitas,
chicken fried steak,
slow cooked round steak, oriental beef stir-fry, Beef in Stout, Beef and
Black Bean Chili
, and other “round steak” or stew recipes.

Important note on the name “Top Sirloin”:
At Meadow Maid® Foods, we avoid using the common name “top sirloin” when talking about
sirloin tip. We have found that “top sirloin” is a name often used in the marketplace to
confuse the consumer (many people think “top sirloin” is the best cut of sirloin). “Top
sirloin” is often sold as steak-sized cuts at prices comparable to or exceeding the price of
“sirloin”, when in fact sirloin is actually a superior cut of meat. So, we stick with the name
sirloin tip, whether we cut it into a steak-sized or roast-sized pieces.

Flank (London Broil, hanger steak) and Skirt Steak (Plate Steak)
I group these steaks together because they both come from below the rib area - flank from
the front, skirt from the rear. Each side of beef yields only 1-2 pounds of each cut, and they
may be used interchangeably in any recipe. Both steaks are very flavorful; the flank is
slightly higher in quality than the skirt, although differences between animals may make that
distinction hard to make.

(London Broil is actually a recipe, not a cut, but flank is often called by that name.)

Both the flank and the skirt should be cooked briefly over high heat, after first being
marinated. Once cooked, slice these steaks thinly into strips to serve. You may wish to top
with a savory sauce. Be sure to cook only to medium-rare, or they may get very dry. These
cuts are excellent choices for recipes such as
Fajitas, Skirt Steak with Compound Butter, or
Oriental beef stir-fry, and Beef Noodle Bowl.

Soup Bones and Stew Meat
Meadow Maid® Foods soup bones are cut from the shank, or lower leg. Each piece contains a
central round bone filled with marrow, surrounded by shank meat.

All Meadow Maid® Foods stew meat is cut from quality top round, not scrap meat. Other cuts
that you may wish to use for stew include: chuck, brisket, eye round, round steak, sirloin tip,
flank, and skirt. Be sure to braise your stew meat for several hours to obtain tender meat
(most recipes include this provision).

Making Beef Stock with our soup bones: Place the bones (with meat attached) in a
large pot, and cover with water. Wine, herbs, onions, and other flavor ingredients may be
added to flavor the beef stock. Or you may omit the flavor ingredients to make a plain but
versatile stock to store for later use. Adding a tablespoon or less of apple cider vinegar at
the start of cooking time will help pull some of the bone minerals into your broth, increasing
the nutrition of the broth. Simmer long and slow, covered in water, for at least several
hours, but more is better.  

Soup stock is nutritious and tasty, and may be used in many, many recipes. When you are
finished cooking the stock, remove the bones. You may cool them, remove the meat from
the bones and return the meat to the stock. Or, you may choose to cool the stock, skim the
fat and strain to create a clear broth. Maximum nutritional value will be obtained by
returning the meat to the stock and keeping the fat. Beef stock may be frozen for several
months or refrigerated for several days.

For more comments on soup stock, see our recipe.

Stewing is a process of cooking meat slowly, covered in liquid, (braising) for at least a couple
of hours, or all day. Other ingredients are added for enhanced flavor and texture. The
stewing process itself improves tenderness in the meat. Tenderness may be further enhanced
by first
marinating the pieces of stew meat in red wine or other tenderizing marinade
overnight, and/or browning the meat to seal in juices and enhance flavor prior to stewing.
Personally, I think all stew meat should be browned first before adding to the stew, for
flavor. Marinades may be reserved to add to the stew with other liquids. Use your favorite
stew recipe,and enjoy! Some of our favorite stew recipes include
Beef in Stout, Wild West
, and Beef and Black Bean Chili.