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How to Select Meat

If you feel overwhelmed staring at your market's meat section, these tips will help you select the perfect cuts like a pro.


  • Step 1: Study the color Study the meat's color and select beef that is bright red. Pork or lamb should be more pinkish.
  • TIP: Vacuum-sealed beef may appear dark purple towards the center because air has not reached these areas yet.
  • Step 2: Ask the butcher Ask the butcher what he recommends or check the sell-date on the label. Only buy from a busy market with lots of customers.
  • Step 3: Check the marbling Check the marbling or lines of fat in the meat. Leaner cuts need low, slow cooking while fattier cuts need quick, high-temperature cooking.
  • Step 4: Decide on a cut Decide on a cut from one of four prime cuts, which are chuck, loin, rib, and round, depending on which cooking method you prefer.
  • TIP: The names of specific cuts can vary widely from region to region and store to store, but the four basic cuts never change.
  • Step 5: Select a chuck or round cut Select a chuck or round cut for slow-cooking methods such as braising or stewing. These cuts tend to be tougher and leaner but more flavorful than other cuts.
  • Step 6: Pick a rib cut Pick a rib cut for the best steaks and roasts and for quick, high-temperature cooking such as grilling, broiling, and roasting.
  • Step 7: Store your meat Store your meat for up to five days in the refrigerator, or six to 12 months in the freezer. Defrost your meat 24 to 48 hours before cooking.
  • FACT: Cattle were first domesticated in 6500 B.C.E. but didn't arrive in North America until the colonists brought them over from Europe.

You Will Need

  • Butcher
  • Appetite

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