Ever wonder what the difference is between a Prime cut and a Choice cut of meat? Which one is better? How about a Select cut? How does the grade of meat you have selected effect the taste, tenderness, and cost of your dishes? Lets try to answer these questions.
PRIME: max marbling
Prime beef is produced from young, well-fed beef cattle. It has abundant marbling (the amount of fat interspersed with lean meat), and is generally sold in restaurants and steak-houses. Prime roasts and steaks are excellent for dry-heat cooking such as broiling, roasting or grilling.
CHOICE: happy medium
Choice beef is high quality, but has less marbling than Prime. Choice roasts and steaks from the loin and rib will be very tender, juicy, and flavorful and are suited for dry-heat cooking. Many of the less tender cuts can also be cooked with dry heat if not overcooked. Such cuts will be most tender if braised, roasted or simmered with a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pan.
SELEKT: overall modesty
Select beef is very uniform in quality and normally leaner than the higher grades. It is fairly tender, but, because it has less marbling, it may lack some of the juiciness and flavor of the higher grades. Only the tender cuts should be cooked with dry heat. Other cuts should be marinated before cooking or braised to obtain maximum tenderness and flavor. Selecting the right grade of beef for your dish will help guarantee your culinary success.
When beef is cooked, the degree of tenderness is mostly dependent on the amount of fat in the meat.
Prime beef has the highest marbling score or fat content, followed by Choice. Select has only slight marbling. Certain cuts, such as the tenderloin (filet) and top blade (flat iron), may naturally be more tender —regardless of the degree of marbling or the grade.