Beef Buying Guide

Beef is flavourful, nutritious and offers a wide variety of meal options. This beef buying guide outlines the most popular cuts and tells you what to look for when shopping.

Beef 101

Beef is a healthy, delicious meat that can be used as the main feature in a wide variety of dishes. You can pop a roast in the oven for a mouth-watering family feast, or use ground beef to make convenient yet tasty sloppy joes or burritos. More delicate cuts like beef tenderloin or veal can be sautéed with wonderful results. "Luxury cuts" of beef generally come from the rear of the animal. They cost a little more but are extremely tender and will benefit from being cooked quickly at high temperatures. "Working cuts" come from the front, where more muscle activity occurs. This makes them less tender, but also less expensive. They should be cooked for longer periods of time at lower temperatures.  

Luxury Cuts

Beef Tenderloin
Beef tenderloin is the most tender cut of beef. It's traditionally served with hearty mashed or baked potatoes and crisp salad with a flavourful cheese like Gorgonzola. This cut is often sold with the fat and the silvery white connective tissue running the length of the tenderloin still present. Trim it off for a leaner meal, or leave it partly intact for the added flavour. Beef tenderloin should be cooked quickly at a high temperature.
Prime Rib
Also known as rib roast, prime rib is delicious served with Yorkshire pudding, whipped potatoes and beef gravy. Before cooking, coat the roast with butter and black pepper for added flavour and let it sit at room temperature for about two hours to ensure even cooking. Start out with a high heat: once the outside is nicely browned, roast at a lower temperature to achieve your desired result — medium-rare is popular for this cut.
Veal is meat from a young cow. In general, it contains less fat than cuts from a mature animal. Your family will love the delicious meals you can make from popular veal cuts such as chops, shanks and cutlets. You can also use veal to make tasty meat pies, meatballs and mini-burgers. Veal should be cooked quickly at a high temperature; grilling or sautéing work best. Veal will become tough if overcooked, so preparing it requires more attention than some other meats.
Roast Beef
Juicy and tender, roast beef is one of the best cuts of beef, which accounts for its slightly higher price compared to some other cuts. Roast beef is typically used as an entrée served with sides such as Yorkshire pudding and mashed potatoes; leftovers make for hearty roast beef or Philadelphia cheese steak sandwiches. Before cooking your roast beef, try seasoning it with a spice rub containing garlic and onion powder, oregano and brown sugar for extra zest.

Working Cuts

Beef Brisket
Beef Brisket is an inexpensive, boneless cut that is best cooked with flavourful liquids like broth, beer, wine or even fruit juice. Add different herbs and spices to make a great sweet-and-sour sauce or burgundy orange sauce. In general, beef brisket is sold as either a flat cut, which is leaner, or a point cut, which has more fat and is more flavorful. You should cook it for longer periods of time at lower temperatures to better release the flavours.
Beef Ribs
Beef ribs are a tougher cut of beef, but they can be used to make incredibly tasty, flavourful dishes because they are well marbled with fat. Smoke them on the barbecue, or make red-wine braised short ribs by frying them and then stewing them in red wine. If you want the meat to easily fall off the bones, then it’s best to use moist heat methods such a roasting, broiling, or sautéing.
Ground Beef
Ground beef can be used in a variety of delicious family meals, including chili, shepherd’s pie, and casseroles. You can also use it to make classics such as sloppy joes: first brown the meat in a skillet over medium heat with green pepper and onion; then turn down the heat and mix in brown sugar, garlic powder, mustard and ketchup. If your recipe calls for vegetables, cook them in same skillet that you used for your beef to add extra flavor. 
Stewing Beef
Beef stew is a nutritious, inexpensive option for lunch or dinner. It's also low-hassle since you cook the beef and vegetables together in a single pot. Although stew meat starts out tougher, the stewing process breaks down the beef's connective tissue, making every mouthful tender and delicious. First, brown the beef in a saucepan and then simmer it in the pot until tender. Next add your vegetables and simmer until they're tender and the stew thickens.

Beef Buying Tips:

  • The beef grading system is based primarily on the level of marbling in the beef, meaning the amount visible fat
  • A higher fat content and more consistent distribution adds up to a better grade
  • Choose cuts of beef that are bright red in color as this indicates the meat is fresh
  • Cuts of beef should be firm and cool to the touch

Beef Features

Marbling refers to the white flecks of fat that are visible in the muscle of a cut of meat. Marbling adds flavour because the fat melts into the rest of the meat during cooking. It's also the primary basis for grading; more marbling means a better grade.
Firmness is a good indicator of the quality and freshness of a cut of beef. The meat should be firm to the touch, but not tough. If you apply pressure, it should give way and then slowly spring back up.
Raw beef should be a bright, cherry-red colour — the brighter the colour, the fresher the meat. If beef is grayish in color, then it's going bad or already spoiled and is best thrown out.
Bone-In vs. Boneless
Bone-in beef means that some or all of the bones remain in the meat. When cooked, the bones release gelatine, which adds flavour to soups and stews. Bones also reduce cooking times by conducting heat to the rest of the meat. Bone-in beef costs less per pound than boneless beef.
Prepped vs. Un-prepped
Prepped beef is more costly than un-prepped beef, but it's more convenient because you save time on marinating and seasoning. The advantage of un-prepped beef is that it gives you the option of marinating and seasoning with the ingredients and flavours you prefer.
Organic vs. Natural
To be certified as organic, beef must be produced in accordance with government regulations. The organic label signifies the cow was raised using sustainable farming methods, treated humanely and not given synthetic hormones or antibiotics. Beef labelled as natural is guaranteed to not contain artificial or synthetic ingredients.
Grain vs. Grass Fed
Grass-fed beef tends to have less fat than grain-fed beef, so it's often less tender and requires longer cooking times at lower heats. However, grass-fed cows are generally healthier than grain-fed cows due to the better nutritional content of their feed, so the beef tends to be tastier and more nutritious.



Beef Safety & Handling Tips:

  • Leftover beef should be sealed and frozen immediately after cooking and used within three months
  • Beef should be one of the last items placed in your cart before you go to the checkout, to ensure that it stays refrigerated as long as possible
  • Refrigerate beef as soon as you get home from the grocery store and use it within two days
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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