A Grade Above – Part 2
In part one, we have discussed the various types of beef. There is also another factor in buying beef; understanding which cuts of beef are kosher? Kosher beef is produced following specific Jewish laws and under the supervision of specially licensed rabbis. Only the forequarters of the cow can be kosher-certified. The precise parts of the cow where kosher meat comes from is the shoulder, the rib, the leg, under the rib and behind the leg.Rabbi Seth Mandel, Rabbinic Coordinator,The Orthodox Union said, "Only the 13th rib is disqualified. In the US, most productions take the 12th rib and the meat between it and the 13th (rib)."
According to our interview with Rabbi Reuven Stein of the Atlanta Kashruth Commission, the portion of kosher beef that is in the hindquarter leg of the cow is not used in the United States, but is used in Israel. This is because the non-kosher sciatic nerve runs through this meat, and it is both labor-intensive and costly to remove. In Israel, where there is less of a market for non-kosher meat, and meat prices are much higher, it makes economic sense to take the time and effort to remove the sciatic nerve and sell the rest as kosher meat.
Kosher parts of the beef:
The following is a list of kosher beef cuts; keep in mind that some cuts have multiple names.
Some beef roasts are:
- Rib roast (“the royalty of roasts”)
- Top of the rib
- French roast (also known as square cut roast, thick London broil, or brick roast)
- Silver tip roast (also known as roast beef)
- Minute steak roast
- Shell roast
- Shoulder roast
- Chuck roast
- Chuck eye roast
Some briskets are:
- Whole brisket (includes both the first and second cut briskets): best for slow roast, potting or braising, or slow smoking
- First cut: a lean cut that is good for potting
- Second cut: a tender cut but less lean than first cut. Good for slow cooking
- Deckel: good for pot roast and slow cooking
Some steak cuts are:
- Rib steak: the most popular with steak lovers and great for the grill or the broiler
- Rib eye steak (also known as boneless rib steak)
- Delmonico steak (boneless, also known as club): first cut of the rib. The Delmonico steak is great on the grill or in the broiler and has a tender, rich texture
- Filet split grill: a lean cut that is good marinated. If left whole, it can be used as a minute roast
- Hangar (hanger) steak: a hanging tenderloin that is a good choice for marinating and grilling or broiling, if kept moist
- Blade steak
- Flank steak: often used to make London broil
- Minute Steak (also known as flat iron or London broil): this is good for pan frying or grilling with spice rub, barbecue sauce, or marinade. Order sliced, and it’s great for sandwiches
- Shoulder steak/shoulder London broil: grill with moisture
- Pepper steak: this is cut in thin slices, well marbleized, rich, and tender. Use in Wok, stew, or as steak
- Chuck steak: a chuck roast cut into chuck steaks with the bone
- Chuck eye steak: a boneless chuck steak
- Skirt steak: a narrow, thin cut makes it perfect for the grill or the broiler, especially when marinated. Some chefs rinse well before using to avoid an overly “salty” taste. Slice thin and use in fajita
- Flanken: a flanked small, juicy, and tender rib. It’s a great item for the grill or the broiler. It is also ideal for pot roast and soups. The meat from this tender cut will fall right off the bone. When cut on the “bias,” flanken may be used for Korean ribs (also known as Miami ribs)
- Short ribs (also known as spare ribs)
- Beef short ribs: these are tender when potted. You'll find that when prepared properly, the meat will fall off the bone. You can also prepare these ribs on the grill with barbeque sauce for a delicious alternative
- Beef stew meat: chunks of meat usually from the “chuck”
- Beef shanks: this is the shank (or leg) portion. It tends to be tough, dry, and sinewy, so it is best when cooked low and slow in moist heat
- Kalichel: this refers to the animal’s leg meat and is usually sold boned. It is always very tender. It’s sometimes cut crosswise with the bone in and is excellent for hearty soups
- Beef Marrow: the soft fatty tissue found in the center of animal leg bones.
- Marrow bones: straight portions of leg bones that contain marrow. These are considered delicacies in many countries, especially in Europe
- Cubed steak: cubed steak is a thin cut of beef, tenderized by fierce pounding with a meat mallet or use of an electric tenderizer
- Raw pickled corned beef (also known as pickled first cut brisket)
- Pickled tongue
What about Grade?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, USDA beef grades are based on nationally uniform Federal standards of quality. No matter where or when a consumer purchases graded meat (or poultry), it must have met the same grade criteria.
USDA quality grades for Meat and Poultry relate to tenderness, juiciness, and flavor; Kosher meat is sold primarily in two quality grades:
- Prime grade has abundant marbling and is generally sold in restaurants, hotels and upscale butcher shops. Prime roasts and steaks are excellent for dry-heat cooking (broiling, roasting, or grilling).
- Choice grade is high quality, but has less marbling than Prime
Purchasing kosher beef is a multi-faceted buying experience; every factor becomes important. You may consider what the cattle ate, if the beef is natural or organic, if it is dried or not, and where the cattle came from. While you’re keeping all of this in mind, you may be also noting the specific kosher-certification as well. It’s a daunting task, but for the informed savvy shopper, it can be a cinch.