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There are 8 main cuts of beef which are the Chuck, Rib, Loin, Round, Flank, Short Plate, Brisket, and Shank. Each of these main cuts can be divided into sub primal cuts. Typically the best cuts are from the center of the steer. These would be the loin or rib section. One thing to remember is that beef tends to become more tender as the distance from the horn to the hoof increases.
Chuck meat comes from the cow’s shoulder. A cow’s shoulder is used a lot, so it can be a tough cut of beef. However, it’s also a very flavorful cut, and butchers cut it in a variety of ways so you have lots of options at the grocery store.
Types of cuts you’ll see for chuck are ground chuck (hamburger), flat-iron steak, chuck short ribs, shoulder tender medallions, chuck pot roast, blade roast, boneless chuck short ribs, stew meat, country style ribs, and top blade steak, just to name a few.
You should choose chuck beef when you want lots of flavor, but need to be cost conscious too.
The brisket is the steer’s breast. Brisket is usually tough and contains a substantial amount of fat. But don’t let that fool you! Chefs know that if you tenderize it with a marinade or rub, and cook it low and slow, it’ll melt in your mouth. Brisket is primarily used for barbecue, corned beef or pastrami.
Cook a brisket when you want to cook low and slow.
The shank is located at the animal’s forearm in front of the brisket. It is one of the toughest cut. One of the most famous dishes that comes from the shank is Osso Buco, which requires braising to make the meat more tender. The shank is often used for stews and soups, because it’s tough.
Ribs are made up of the cow’s ribs and backbone. There are 13 pairs of ribs, but only the last section (6-12) are in the primal section of the ribs. The others are in the chuck cut.
Ribs have lots of flavor and marbling. Types of cuts you’ll see for ribs are Delmonico steak, boneless ribeye roast, cowboy steak, ribeye steaks and beef short ribs.
Choose ribs when you want a tender cut of beef with extra marbling.
The plate, or short plate, is the other source of short ribs. It’s found near the abdomen, and it’s fattier. Beef from the short plate are often used for fajitas, pastrami, skirt steak, Philadelphia steak and short ribs.
The loin is where the most expensive cuts of beef come from. The loin is located at the top of the steer directly behind the rib, and since it’s not a heavily used muscle, it’s very tender.
The loin has two parts: shortloin and sirloin.
Popular cuts from the shortloin are filet mignon, tenderloin steak, T-bone, Porterhouse steaks, strip steak, New York Strip, and KC Strip.
Earlier we talked about how one cut of beef often has several different names. The shortloin is a great example of this. A T-Bone and Porterhouse are from the shortloin. They’re the same steak. The only small difference is a Porterhouse is a larger version of the T-Bone. Then, when you cut the beef out around the “T” bone, you get two unique cuts – a filet and a strip steak. A strip steak has lots of difference names too like New York Strip, Kansas City Strip, and hotel steak, just to name a few.
The sirloin area is a little less tender than the shortloin, but it’s also more flavorful. Common cuts from the sirloin area are sirloin steak, center cut sirloin steak, top sirloin, bottom sirloin, ball tip steak, Tri-Tip Roast and Tri-Tip Steak.
Cook a cut from the loin when you’re hungry for a flavorful and tender cut of beef.
The round is a lean and inexpensive cut. It’s found at the cow’s rump and hind legs, so it’s sometimes tough.
When you’re at the grocery store, you’ll often see round sold as ground beef. Other common cuts are round steak, eye of round, tip steak, tip roast, top round and bottom round roasts.
The flank is located below the loin. It has no bones, and is very flavorful but also very tough.
It used to be less expensive at the grocery store, but this has started to change. Why? Flank steaks are known for being lean. Since consumers want lean meat more than ever before, it’s increased flank steak’s popularity and price.
Popular flank cuts are flank steak and London broil
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