Beef Round Cuts


     Boneless Beef London Broil.

         ‘London Broil’ is a name that means different things to different butchers and different meat consumers.  But to virtually everyone, it means flavor

Most traditionally, London Broil is the name given to flank steak that is marinated, broiled or grilled and then sliced thinly across the grain.  But nowadays, it is very common, if not most common, that London Broil is the name given to the first 1 and 1/4 inch (or so) cut off the boneless beef inside round (a.k.a. top round) subprimal.  You know this meat better as a top round roast, but that first cut off the top round is considered by many to be more desireable than the rest because it is a single muscle without the ‘cap meat’ (a loosely attached muscle covering most of this subprimal) that is present on the remainder of the cuts.  Because in reality all these cuts are essentially the same no matter what you call them, it is common practice among meat cutters to sometimes label and sell every cut from this piece as top round roasts – and sometimes to label and sell all of them as London Broils.  To be straightforward with you, the difference is subtle at best.  But the good news is that, whatever a butcher may call them, cuts from the beef inside round are heavy with flavor!  Versatile also, the London Broil (and Top Round Roast) can be grilled or oven broiled with equally great results.  Because this is a muscle that is used regularly by the animal, it is tough in its right out of the meat case form.  It requires extensive marinating.. 24 hours is not too much; overnight would be my minimum recommendation.  Ideally the cut should then be grilled or broiled while close to the source of heat, a few inches or so away.  Also it is recommended to turn the piece several times to prevent burning and promote even cooking.  Be advised however that it is common – if not traditional – to serve the London Broil with some charring on the outside while the meat is at a medium rare to medium temperature on the inside (see picture above at right).  If, however, charring is not in your meat eating vocabulary, I would suggest foil wrapping this piece once the outside has reached your desired look and doneness.

Incidentally, after doing a bit of homework, I can report that the name London Broil apparently in no way derives from the city of London, England!  It is not known as popular cuisine there, nor is there any indication it ever was.  My best guess is that, at some point over time, the cut was given this name just to kind of invoke the mystique of London cuisine.  The great news is that we beef eaters could call this cut Albuquerque Broil, and it would still be very delicious!

meatshop101 Shoppers’ Tip:

If you are planning a special event or dinner, and London Broil is just the thing you are planning to serve your guests or family, and you’re not going to settle for less.. ok!  Not a problem.  But a few suggestions may be helpful in order to get this event off the ground and onto your dinner table with beefy bliss…

Because the boneless beef London Broil is more or less the same as the boneless beef Top Round Roast (so close you would likely never notice any difference in taste or tenderness), it may not be important to you to insist your butcher give you a cut named London Broil.  This name ‘London Broil’ is more an indication of cooking method than the raw cut itself.  This is why flank steak, a totally different cut from a totally different part of the animal, can be and is sometimes used to prepare London Broil also.  You can think of it this way:  Regardless of the cut you are using, it really isn’t London Broil until it’s cooked and ready to serve.  I say all this to make the following point:  in many supermarkets, you can save money buying a Top Round Roast over a ‘London Broil’, and you will be just as happy with the results because, again, they are essentially the same cut, no matter how many times a meat cutter may tell you there is something special about that first cut off the inside round that he calls a London Broil.  If you buy a Top Round Roast to prepare as a London Broil but do not wish to serve it with the cap meat on, I recommend asking your butcher to remove this and maybe cut it up for a few ounces of good beef stew meat that you can add to your next stew or chili.  Despite the caveman aura that many find a little intimidating about meat cutters, they are generally pretty good about honoring such requests.  And even if they are not, please be persistent about asking because it is perfectly reasonable, and for your butcher to honor such special requests is one of the age-old traditions of the trade.



      Boneless Beef ‘Sirloin’ Tip Roast.

         The boneless tip roast is one of the most versatile beef cuts you will ever lay your hands on!  Ideal and most commonly done as a nice, lean oven roast, it is however easily sliced & diced into any number of other popular items.  The boneless tip roast is much beloved by supermarket meat shops because it is easily broken down into so many other beef items for which meat markets charge a higher price than that for a basic roast.  For this reason, it’s an investment piece for them.  For the same reason, it can be a workhorse and a great money saver for you!

Because of its positioning on the animal and proximity to the sirloin primal (the ‘sirloin’ and ’round’ primals connect), the boneless round tip roast commonly takes the name Sirloin Tip Roast, and you will find it labeled this way in many supermarket meat shops.  While it does not boast the natural tenderness of true sirloin primal cuts, it is one of the more naturally tender items among Round Primal cuts, discussed on this page.  In butcher’s terms, the whole piece from which the boneless tip roast is produced, is called the beef knuckle.  It appears much like the image just above but with a medium thickness covering of fat and peripheral muscle, collectively known as the ‘cap’.  Many supermarkets today, however, have begun carrying many ‘streamlined’ meat products, meaning the items have had virtually all surface fat removed before the store acquires them.  This is more and more true for boneless tip roasts as well. 

Because of the leanness and ease of slicing, this piece – as mentioned above – will produce an array of very common and highly usable beef products, and many of these are relatively easy to do at home.  The piece can be cut more or less as is, into 1 inch (or so) cubes for using in your favorite beef stew recipe.  It can be sliced into steak sized portions and then sliced thinly for stir fry or fajita meat.  It can be divided into 3 or 4 smaller blocks and then sliced thinly for breakfast steaks, also commonly known as minute steaks, that rest nicely on a biscuit or alongside a tasty mound of scrambled eggs.  Some or all of the boneless tip roast can be ground (by supermarket personnel for most of you) for use in a variety of recipes that call for lean ground beef, and this is indeed the meat that is commonly used in meat shops to produce ground sirloin!  These are only a few ideas for this amazingly versatile piece of beef, but by now, you can hopefully see its potential as a money saver, as all of the by-product cuts I have named are priced considerably higher in supermarkets than the basic sirloin tip roast you can pick up right out of your butcher’s meat counter.. and often at a sale price that makes learning some simple home cutting even more sensible!

meatshop101 Shoppers’ Tip:

If the versatility of the boneless beef Sirloin Tip Roast has stoked your interests, the scenario for making it a kitchen reality is really very simple.  Here’s what you do:  watch your local newspapers’ supermarket fliers for a sale price on Sirloin Tip Roasts (perhaps they will call them Round Tip Roasts) or Whole Boneless Beef Knuckles (remember, these are the somewhat larger pieces from which Tip Roasts are produced)When in the store – if it is the Whole Knuckles that are on sale – choose a piece and ask the following of your butcher.. “Please cut me 1 nice roast off the full-face front,  then 2 steaks around 3/4 to 1 inch thick, then portion some lean meat into a pound or so of stew meat, sirloin tips, stir fry or fajita meat (depending on your preference), and finally, grind the rest for ground sirloin.”  Wow!  When these whole boneless beef knuckles go on sale, you can request things just like this of your good butcher, and who could blame you?!  If you price these cuts individually at regular price per lb. vs. the price you will pay for this whole piece when it is at a sale price, you’d be floored by the savings.. trust me on this one!  Likewise, if you do not wish to invest in the larger piece, it is still an enormous savings to select an already cut (smaller) roast and ask the butcher to portion it in a similar fashion or maybe grind it for some outstanding lean ground beef!  A final word for those who are intrigued by the prospect of investing in the whole piece (knuckle).. even if they are not specifically advertised but only advertised are the roasts that are cut from them, chances are the whole pieces are on sale too, just ask the butcher!  I recommend asking the butcher or supermarket meat shop manager personally about this.  Why?  Because most meat shops (or meat ‘departments’) employ a number of meat ‘clerks’ who, quite honestly, may not be well informed about the ins & outs of the meat shop and may tell you, for example, that whole pieces are not on sale when in fact, they are.  Enjoy!


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