Cheaper cuts of beef and how to use them

The drawing shows where the cheaper cuts of beef are taken from.

The table below the drawing will explain what they are known as (in the UK), and how they can be used.

Number on diagram Name of Cut Cooking Methods
1 Neck Stews
2 Chuck steak Braise or Pot Roast, ground beef
3 Shoulder or Blade Bone Braise or Slow Roast
4 Top and Back Ribs Slow Roast
5 Brisket Casseroles, Pot Roast, Braise or Boil
6 Shin and leg Stews, Pies, Gravy, Brawn
7 Flank (Plate or Bedpeice) Stews
8 Top Rump or Thick Flank Roast, Pot Roast, Braise
9 Buttock Steak Fry or Braise
10 Tail Stew or Braise

So let's now look at some of these cooking methods in more detail.

Roast Beef Cooking Times

The cheaper cuts of beef are best roasted slowly, at a lower temperature than that used for more expensive (or very large) joints.

Slow roasting results in a tender, moist piece of beef with minimal shrinking. However, you may like to turn the heat up for the first 15 to 30 minutes to give the meat a tasty crust, before turning it down to a more moderate temperature.

The length of cooking time will depend on whether you prefer your beef underdone (rare), medium or well done. However it is also dependent on the physical shape of the joint and how thick it is.

The following timings will give you a starting point.

Rare 10 minutes per pound or half kilo plus 10 minutes

Medium 15 minutes per pound or half kilo, plus 15 minutes

Well Done 20 minutes per pound or half kilo, plus 20 minutes

Using a Meat Thermometer

However, you can only get a really accurate gauge as to whether a joint is cooked to perfection, if you use a meat thermometer.

Classic Meat Thermometer's are inserted into the thickest part of the meat before it goes into the oven. Be careful that it does not touch the bone. Digital thermometer's are poked into the meat after you take it out of the oven.

To check for doneness, remove the tray from the oven and check whether the thermometer has reached the required temperature, as below.

Rare 60oC or 140oF

Medium 70oC or 158oF

Well Done 80oC or 176oF

Braised beef

Braising is a moist method of cooking cheaper cuts of beef, that is a mixture of steaming, baking and poaching.

I like to brown the beef in a pan first, to add a little color to the dish.

The meat is then placed in an ovenproof dish, normally on top of a layer of vegetables. Liquid is then added, to partially cover the meat. The lid is put on the container and it is then put into the oven to cook.

The vegetables and any remaining liquid, are then served with the beef.

Pot roasting cheaper cuts of beef

This method of cooking is similar to braising, however less liquid is used. The dish relies on the moisture from the bed of vegetables to create the steam that helps to cook the meat.

Again you would need a covered ovenproof container, big enough to take the cuts of beef you wish to cook in it. Pot roasting can also be accomplished in a slow cooker or crock pot.

The vegetables often used are carrots, onions, turnips, leeks and swede. These are laid in the base of the pot and sprinkled with water. Then the beef is placed on top and dotted with fat.

The cooking is then long and slow, tenderizing the cheaper cuts of meat to give a delicious, rich meal.

Ground beef or minced beef

Chuck steak can be put through a grinder or mincer to create ground beef (or mince) that is used in numerous recipes. This makes it not only one of the cheaper cuts of beef but also the quickest to cook.

You will find a number of easy ground beef recipes on this site, such as Cottage Pie and Cornish Pasties.


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