When cooking with beef, many people often wonder which beef cuts to use for certain dishes. This prompted me to write a post about cooking with beef and beef cuts explained.
“What’s the highest grade of beef one can get?” or “What’s the best grade beef one can buy?”
Here’s a topic many are curious about when it comes to Canada beef grades. Since we are a beef farming family, a lot of our friends ask us about beef grading. Grading is a quality designation based on several characteristics, including marbling. Which is the premium grade? The top Canadian Grade with the most marbling is Canada Prime, which is found mainly at fine restaurants. You will notice that many fine restaurants will have that designation on their menus.
Canada AAA is generally the premium grade, followed by Canada AA and Canada A. Grading is not mandatory.
I did read that there are thirteen beef grades in the Canadian system. They are Canada A, Canada AA, Canada AAA, Canada Prime, Canada B1, Canada B2, Canada B3, Canada B4, Canada D1, Canada D2, Canada D3, Canada D4, and Canada E. I found this over here.
I was talking to my husband about beef grading, and he mentioned that a lot of the beef we sell would grade AAA if it was graded and that we planned on getting it graded when our local abattoir will do it.
AAA has a higher marbeling content than AA. AA is leaner in terms of marbeling. If you’re buying lean meat (ex: for doing stir-fry), you don’t need AAA beef, but if you’re cooking a steak on the BBQ, AAA is a better choice for taste.
One question many people have asked me is “What’s the best beef cut?”
The reason why that is an interesting question for me is that certain beef cuts are better for certain recipes. Before we get into that, let’s first explore and become familiar with the various beef cuts. Canada Beef has a helpful graphic that shows where on the animal each cut is located as well as a butcher’s guide describing oven roast tenderness from more tender to less tender. Visit Canada Beef’s Cuts By Colour to learn about where the main beef are located and to get a description for each.
Beef Cuts Explained
Inside Round Oven Roast
Best oven roasted at low temperatures (275°F/135°C) to at least medium rare (145°F/63°C). Carve across the grain into thin slices to optimize tenderness. Taken from the lean round, Inside Round is more flavourful than Eye of Round and more tender than Outside Round.
Eye of Round Oven Roast
One of the leanest beef cuts with the mildest flavour, this cut is generally sold at a moderate price. To maximize tenderness, cook to medium doneness at most. let the cooked roast rest for 15 minutes and carve across the grain into thin slices.
Sirloin Tip Marinating Steak
Generally sold at an intermediate price Sirloin Tip is moderately tender with good beefy flavour. To maximize tenderness, pierce all over and marinate 4 to 12 hours before grilling to medium doneness at most.
Eye of Round Marinating Steak
Generally sold at an intermediate price Eye of Round is moderately tender and lean with mild beefy flavour. To maximize tenderness, pierce all over and marinate 4 to 12 hours before grilling to medium doneness at most.
Outside Round Oven Roast
Taken from the lean round, Outside Round is more flavourful than Eye of Round and less tender than Inside Round. Best oven roasted at low temperatures (275°F) to at least medium-rare 145°F (63°C). Carve across the grain into think sliced to optimize tenderness.
Outside Round Marinating Steak
Generally sold at an intermediate price, Outside Round is moderately tender with good beefy flavour. To maximize tenderness, pierce all over and marinate 4 to 12 hours before grilling to at least medium-rare 145°F (63°C)
(Quoted from Canada Beef Cuts by Colour)
Of course, there are plenty of options when selecting and buying Canadian beef. Again, it comes down to whether your recipe calls for beef cuts that slow-simmer to others that can be ready in just minutes. For a more comprehensive view, check out this Buying and Cooking Canadian Beef guide.
When considering sirloin/loin, we have:
- top sirloin
- strip loin
- bottom sirloin ball tip
- bottom sirloin tri tip
- bottom sirloin flap
- short loin
From the hip/round, you have sirloin:
- tip (rotisserie roast, oven roast, quick roast, marinating medallions, fast-fry steak, marinating steak).
- outside round
- eye of round
- inside round
Of course, there are so many other versatile cuts that many are familiar with, such as ribs, rib eye, beef short rib, oven-ready rib.
There’s also chuck. This includes:
- pectoral: marinating strips, stewing beef
- boneless top blade
- chuck short rib
- chuck tail flat
- chuck roll
- shoulder clod
A very versatile cut is ground beef. This includes extra lean ground beef, lean ground beef, medium ground beef, and regular ground beef. During the weekdays, this is often a go-to for me. With ground beef from our farm, I make spaghetti sauce, Shepherd’s Pie, tacos, chili, and so many other dishes.
Also, by making big batch beef with ground beef, you can save so much time making dinner on busy weeknights. Make a big batch, freeze it, and then scoop out a portion to cook with your spaghetti sauces, soups, casseroles, and more!
Finally, we have brisket/shank.
To read more about all of these cuts, visit the Buying and Cooking Canadian Beef chart that Canada Beef shared.
Here are some of the ways we use different beef cuts in our kitchen.
The Roundup App
Do you have any questions about beef and cooking beef? Canada Beef’s got an app for that! Download The Roundup App for FREE and you’ll have all the beef info at your fingertips!
Apart from inspiring recipes and useful information on all things Canadian beef, one of my favourite features of this app is that The Roundup app can help guide you through the meat counter with information on what cuts to look for, and substitutions if your cut is not available. Yes, the app also has info on beef cuts and beef grades!