Beef Rib Cuts


     Beef ‘Standing’ Rib Roast

         Rib Roast!  The words are synonymous with the holidays and other special occasions.  Prepared correctly, few cuts of beef are as savory and pleasing to the palate.  This piece roasts beautifully, and the anticipation as it fills the home with its unique aroma is almost as satisfying as the meal!

     The standing rib roast is portioned from the full rib with rib bones still attached.  Many of you know that, when you enjoy an excellent ribeye steak, it is the same meat as that on a rib roast and has simply been cut off the bone and portioned.  That same bone, however, is one of the beauties of this roast!  Unmatched flavor is imparted by the bone into the meat as this piece roasts.   The full rib is divided roughly in half, with the halves taking the names ‘large end’ and ‘small end’.  Whether one is better than the other is really never more than a matter of personal taste and preference, but a little more information may help you choose between them.  In consumer terms, the small end is defined by more lean meat, where the center of the piece is an intact single muscle, also known as the ‘eye’ of the rib.  Additionally the bones on the small end tend to be better defined, separate and more easily cut between.  The large end is defined by a smaller eye with additional muscles surrounding it.  This is the end from which ‘Delmonico’ steaks are cut, if that helps.  Because there are additonal fat pockets separating the extra muscles on the large end, roasts (and steaks) cut from here tend to have more natural flavor.  But the unfortunate trade-off is that there tends to be more bone on this end and in some cases may be difficult to carve around with household knives.  So in a few words, small end rib roasts may be a little less flavorful but are generally easier to carve, while large end roasts will have more natural flavor but somewhat more bone to work around.  Sit in with the Video Chef (above at right) as he beautifully demonstrates roasting a large end rib roast, prime rib style.. 

meatshop101 Shoppers’ Tip:

To maximize the ease of preparing a beef standing rib roast for your family and guests, I recommend asking your butcher to take a couple of steps for you before bringing home this classic cut.   I urge you not to be shy in asking for this help; it is traditional and perfectly acceptable that butchers provide such no-extra-charge services for customers.  Ask him or her to make a cut along the bones where the meat attaches to them but not quite all the way through, and then tie back the roast so that the bone is again secured in place.  The idea is that the bone should remain with the roast during the cooking process (for imparting its flavor to the meat) but will then be much easier to remove once you are ready to slice the finished prime rib and serve.  Removing the bones entirely yourself at home can be challenging when the roast is right out of the oven and still very hot.  View the video at left by an Iowa butcher to understand exactly what you will be asking your butcher to do for your beef standing rib roast.  Incidentally, although ‘prime rib’ is generally the name given to the beef rib roast once it is cooked, it is something of a misnomer.   *’Prime’ beef is a USDA designation of grade as is ‘choice’ or ‘select’.  ‘Prime Rib’, however, has become more a designation of cooking method and does not necessarily indicate the roast is prime grade - in most cases in fact,  it is probably not.

I think you will enjoy the video butcher’s handywork (at right); these really are some creative techniques for breaking a rib roast down into some other unusual and attractive items.  If you take your time and follow her instructions, these are good examples of fairly simple cutting you can do at home, creating more expensive cuts from a rib roast that is typically priced well below the items she is creating.  Enjoy!

 

    

 

     Beef Boneless Ribeye Steak

        Few would dispute the ribeye steak’s status as a major player in the elite world of grilling steaks – consistently very tender, undeniably flavorful and always satisfying.  It is the star of Super Bowl parties, summer holidays, steakhouse menus and just about anywhere else someone has a taste for a great cut of beef!

As noted above in the rib roast section, the boneless ribeye steak is simply a cut off the muscle that lines the exterior of the rib cage.  But why is it so tender?  It is an internal muscle that, for lack of a better expression, just kind of sits there without being used so much by the animal as it moves about, and therefore has no reason or opportunity to become a dense and tough muscle!  This is also true of other very tender beef cuts, such as the tenderloin (or filet mignon), which likewise lines the inside of the short loin or forward upper back.. and therefore doesn’t get used so much by the animal.  The rib meat is gently knifed off the bones that make up the rib cage by skilled butchers, being careful of course to leave as little meat on the ribs as possible because more money is made on a ribeye than on beef ribs.  There are a myriad of ways to finely prepare a boneless ribeye steak.  I have classified it here as a grilling steak because this is unarguably the most common and traditional method of cooking, but it also does quite well broiled in the oven, as do other grilling steaks.

meatshop101 Shoppers’ Tip:

When choosing ribeye steaks from your butcher’s meat counter, there are some key things worth considering.  First, what is your preference regarding fat content?  Is more better, or do you want the least possible fat in your steak(s)?  Generally speaking, as you move up in USDA grade, more streaky fat, a.k.a. ‘marbling’, is present in the meat.   This is where the trade-off occurs.. by and large, as everyone knows, animal fat is not so healthy if eaten regularly.  But in the meat world, the fat is where the flavor is!  Most retail meat operations nowadays have put the emphasis on flavor and so make a practice of carrying higher grades of beef.  The three main grades of beef are ‘select’, characterized by leaner meat with less marbling, sometimes virtually none.  The next major grade up is ‘choice.’  The animals that merit this grade are fed foods – among other reasons –  to make them fattier, make their meat more marbled.  And at the top of widely sold beef grades is ‘prime’.  Prime grade beef is usually very marbled and, although delivering considerably more fat to your diet, tends to make the tastiest meals.  I am reluctant to make a recommendation regarding grade or fat content because it comes down, as much as anything, to how much fat you can tolerate in your steak or other beef cut.  Select grade beef is not as commonly seen in supermarket meat shops nowadays because it is at the bottom of the USDA grading system and has the general reputation among those in the know, of having less tenderness and flavor.  Choice grade beef has become more universally offered in supermarkets, and so in many cases at a given store, it is the only choice you will have.  And in this butcher’s opinion, it is a good choice (no pun intended), because it is in the middle of the road in terms of marbling.. plenty for great flavor but not loaded down.  Prime grade beef, in my professional opinion, is just the thing for special occasions such as your holiday rib roast or your favorite summer holiday because of its almost guaranteed great flavor and tenderness.  But again know that prime grade beef, if eaten regularly, will deliver considerably more fat to your diet.  Supermarkets are bound by law nowadays to display which grade of beef is contained in each individual package..  if you don’t see either “select’, ‘choice’ or ‘prime’ displayed somewhere on a package of beef, you really should ask a meat department personnel which grade of beef you’re looking at. Here for you is a short but sweet video (above at left) with a couple of good pointers for picking out a great ribeye steak!

Here also is a fine demonstration of portioning a whole ribeye into steaks.  This video butcher segment (at right) may be helpful for many of you who like to take advantage of the great buys you can frequently find on whole pieces.  You may not cut your first one up with the same fluidity as this trained cutter, but with a good sharp knife, a little practice will get the job done.  Just follow his lead!  If you can make a little room in the freezer, this is a real money saving opportunity on a true grill gem!

 

 



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