- Buying Beef - USDA Prime: This is the top of the line. It has abundant marbling (flecks of fat within the lean), making it very tender and juicy. Prime roasts and steaks are excellent for dry-heat cooking like roasting and broiling. - USDA Choice: This has less marbling than prime, but is still of very high quality. Choice roasts and steaks from the loin and rib will be very tender, juicy and flavorful. - USDA Select: Somewhat leaner than the higher grades. It is fairly tender, but may lack some of the juiciness of other grades. These are best marinated or slow cooked for maximum tenderness. Steaks If you are planning to grill steaks, what cut should you get? Most are fairly good for grilling, but some cuts may need some extra attention. As a rule of thumb, the more expensive the product the more tender it will be. If you are spoiling yourself, get a tenderloin, porterhouse, t-bone or rib eye. The New York strip, top sirloin and round tip are also good, but you may want to marinate them first. Many stores market "mock filets" or steaks that pretend to be filet mignon; with a good marinade, you can work miracles with this inexpensive option. Burger Many consumers choose extra lean ground beef to help maintain their figures and keep their arteries clog-free. The only problem with going that route is that sometimes it's difficult to keep this drier product from falling apart on the grill. If you are going to indulge in a grilled hamburger, use lean ground beef instead of extra lean. Buying Lamb Lamb is produced from animals less than a year old. Most cuts of USDA Prime and Choice lamb, including shoulder cuts, are tender and can be oven roasted, broiled or pan broiled. The less tender cuts, such as the breast, riblets, neck and shank, can be braised slowly to make them more tender and juicy. Buying Pork Pork is generally produced from younger animals. Today's fresh pork products have considerably less fat than they did a decade ago. There are only two USDA grades for pork, acceptable and unacceptable.
Acceptable quality pork is also graded for yield, the yield ratio of lean to waste. Unacceptable quality pork, which includes meat that is soft and watery, is graded U.S. Utility. What to buy: - Look for cuts with a small amount of fat over the outside and with meat that is firm and grayish pink in color. There should be a small amount of marbling. - Pork chops come in a variety of cuts: center loin, rib chops, sirloin chops, boneless or bone-in. They can be prepared by pan broiling, grilling, baking, braising, or saut,ing. Thin chops (1/4-3/8") are best saut,ed unless you are into dry tasteless meat. Boneless chops cook more quickly than bone-in chops so keep that in mind as well. - Ribs are available as spareribs, back ribs, and country- style ribs. All three styles can be braised or roasted in the oven or on the BBQ grill. Slow cooked ribs are generally more tender. - Tenderloins are the most tender and tasty cut of pork. Extremely lean, tenderloins can be roasted whole, cut into cubes for kabobs or into strips for stir-fry. So there you have it, the basics of choosing various cuts of meat. Using these tips will help you prepare and serve affordable and delicious meals without breaking the bank. Shoot, they might think you're such a good cook that they'll want a return engagement!