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Beef 101

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Beef 101

In butchery, “beef” is used generally to refer to the meat of a heifer, cow, bull, young bull, bullock or steer, even if the tenderness and flavor vary greatly. Bison (buffalo) meat can be used as well. The older the animal and the more it is worked, the tougher the meat.


About 30% of all the animal represents the tender parts that are in demand and more expensive than the less tender parts. These latter parts, prepared properly (using a marinade, a mallet or tenderizer, or cooked slowly in liquid) can yield equally good results. The composition and fat content of the ground beef available on the market is variable. Beef containing more fat is less expensive to buy, but has a lower yield. Standard ground beef (highest fat content) can prove to be a good buy of the cooking fat can be drained (in a meat tomato sauce, for example).  When it is not possible to drain the fat (in the case of meatloaf, for example), choose leaner ground beef.

It is available in portions for braising or stewing, as chops or steaks for sautéing, broiling or grilling, in filets or roasting cuts.


In the fridge: ground, 1-2 days; steaks, 2-3 days; roasts and cooked beef, 3-4 days.

In the freezer: ground and cooked, 2-3 months; steaks and roasts, 10-12 months.


Beef is eaten blue (raw on the inside with a slightly cooked outside), rare, medium-rare, medium (pink) or well done.

A low temperature is recommended for semi-tender or tougher cuts. A higher temperature allows tender cuts to cook quickly.


Beef is eaten hot or cold, rare (steak tartare) or cooked. Ground beef is used in burgers, meat loaves, meat balls, and sausages should be eaten well cooked, as it can carry a bacterium, E.coli, whose toxin can lead to serious and potentially fatal food poisoning.

Beef is delicious cured and smoked. It can also be stir-fried, combined with veggies and grains or noodles.

To reduce fat intake:

Choose lean cuts (inside round, eye of round, sirloin, etc.) and cooking methods that require less fat (grilling, roasting, braising, etc.).

Reduce the portion size of the meat and remove visible fat before cooking.

Degrease the sauce by skimming the fat from the surface.


Marbling (layers of fat spread throughout the muscle of the meat) helps to make beef more tender, tasty and juicy, without significantly increasing the fat content of the cooked meat.

Photo: The Stables

Photo: The Stables


(This information was taken from the culinary textbook, “The Visual Food Lover’s Guide”)


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