Know Your Cuts of Meat

Any Letterman fans recognize the audience participation game called "Know Your Cuts of Meat" that Dave frequently plays with obvious tongue in cheek humor. When you approach the meat counter, do you know which steak in the case will fit the end use you have in mind? Our steak primer will take the guesswork out of steak shopping and help you stick to a budget.

Top Round

  • Also known as London broil.
  • Very lean with mild flavor; dense and slightly chewy.
  • Inexpensive with no fat to trim off, so more meat for your money.
  • Marinating will tenderize this cut of meat.
  • Serve rare to medium to keep the meat tender. Overcooking will make this cut very tough.
  • Carve very thin, against the grain.

Strip Loin

  • Also known as strip steak, New York strip steak, shell steak
  • This is for the beef lover!
  • Tender.
  • Ideal for a variety of cooking methods like grilling, broiling and pan-roasting.
  • Cook rare or medium-rare. Overcooking turns the meat to a mealy texture.

Skirt Steak

  • Also known as fajita steak.
  • Inexpensive.
  • Juicy and flavorful.
  • Firm, accordion-like grain that soaks up dry rubs and marinades.
  • Best cooked from rare to medium-rare, otherwise it will be tough.

Rib Eye

  • Also known as Delmonico steak.
  • Naturally tender, and cooks up juicy, with the rich flavor of caramelized meat.
  • Comes bone-in or boneless.
  • Lots of marbling makes this cut tender and flavorful.
  • These steaks are pricey, so look for ones with a large "eye" and less surrounding fat.

Filet Mignon

  • Also known as tenderloin steak.
  • Mild flavor and tender.
  • Expensive, but doesn't need to be trimmed and doesn't shrink much during cooking.
  • Avoid acidic marinades as they'll deteriorate the fine grain and make the meat mealy.
  • Best eaten rare to medium.
  • Lean and tender enough to be eaten cold.
  • No need for a steak knife; it cuts like butter!


  • This is the ultimate steak for steak lovers, especially if they like gnawing on the bone.
  • Combines the delicate tenderloin and robust, juicy strip.
  • The bone adds flavor and seals in juices.

Know a Little Beef Terminology

  • Aged Beef – Aging is a process that allows the natural enzymes in the meat to tenderize the tissue and develop the flavor. Dry-aged beef is expensive, but delicious.
  • Marbling – The streaks of fat within the muscle make for flavorful, juicy, tender meat. As a rule, the more well-marbled, the better the steak.
  • Prime, Choice and Select – This is a USDA grading system based, in part, on marbling. While all beef is USDA-inspected for wholesomeness, grading for quality is voluntary and the USDA charges for the service. Budget cuts labeled prime or choice often make for a better steak experience than a rib eye or strip steak labeled select.
  • Grass-Fed – Cattle that has grazed only on grass. It's leaner, lower in calories and higher in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants than grain-fed beef; it's also more likely to be free of antibiotics and growth hormones.
  • USDA Organic – Cows that are raised on organically grown feed, but not necessarily on grass. They can't be treated with synthetic hormones or antibiotics.
  • Certified Angus Beef – A brand, not a breed, created by the American Angus Association.

Try your favorite cut of steak with the following recipes, including marinades and butters as well. All will help you enjoy the incredible steak we have in our Meat Department!

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