Sunday, February 6, 2011

Great Steaks Start With Great Beef - USDA Prime

Have you ever gone to a steakhouse and wondered how they made the steak so tasty and juicy? Have you cooked a steak at home and tried to match the quality only to be disappointed? In all likelihood you did not achieve the same level of taste and tenderness because the steakhouse was using a much better grade of beef than you-they were probably using USDA Prime beef. The ingredients you begin with and the quality of the steak are just as important as your cooking methods and skills of the chef. If you begin with USDA Prime beef, you know that you are cooking with a superior piece of meat. Beginning with a high quality piece of beef is the first step to make a great steak.

What does USDA Prime mean?
The USDA created a beef grading scale to categorize beef by the quality of flavor, juiciness, and tenderness. There are 8 different grades that can be assigned to a piece of meat. The most common grades that consumers may see are USDA Prime, the highest grade, USDA Choice, the second highest grade, and USDA Select, the third highest grade. Other grades of meat are usually used for ground beef and other processed meats. They are seldom sold as steaks or roasts. Prime beef is characterized by abundant marbling which leads to a very tender, juicy and flavorful piece of beef. Beef grading inspections are done solely for the purpose of determining the overall quality of the meat. Another inspection is done completely independently of the grading inspection to determine if the meat is food worthy.

Why use USDA Prime Beef?
USDA Prime beef is the most expensive grade of meat but it is also the most flavorful. If you can obtain it, the home chef should use Prime beef when cooking because the steak will be of superior quality which will most likely result in a great steak. Keep in mind that a poor cooking job can ruin a great piece of meat, but a wonderful cooking job cannot make a mediocre piece of meat into a great steak. As a result, the home chef, who has an excellent cooking method, should spend the extra money to get the best steak possible. Doing so is the best way to get a steakhouse quality steak at home. In the long run, it will save money because you will no longer have to go to an expensive steakhouse to get a great steak.

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