7 Affordable Beef Cuts You Need to Try
There are a few general rule of thumbs when preparing beef that you should know about. Grilling, searing, roasting, and braising are typically the best cooking methods to choose from for achieving the best flavor from your beef. When you are slicing a steak, be sure to cut against the grain. (“The grain” is the direction in which the muscles and tissues are connected.) Slicing against the grain makes for a more tender and chewable bite. Also, never rush cutting into your beef as soon as you remove it from the heat; give it a few minutes to rest before cutting in order to ensure optimal juiciness. Now that we got a few basics covered, let’s dive into some of the less commonly glorified cuts that will redefine the way you see beef. By exploring more underrated beef cuts, you open yourself up to a new, affordable ways to enjoy red meat. And once you master how to prepare these cuts, every week can be beef week for your family.
The tri-tip, A.K.A the Santa Maria steak, is an auspicious, triangle-shaped cut of beef that comes from bottom portion of the sirloin. The tri-tip gained its notoriety from the California barbecue scene. The Santa Maria-style of cooking this cut starts with a simple rub of garlic, salt and black pepper. The tri-tip tends to be juicy with a fatty exterior which forms a beautiful crust when smoked or grilled for about 40 minutes over red oak wood. The tri-tip is sliced and served with warm garlic bread, fresh salsa and pinquito beans. Purist would argue that the flavor of the meat comes from the wood chips, therefore, there is no need to fuss with the barbecue sauce.
Hanger steak might just be the most exciting pieces of beef to try on this list. It’s easily cooked in a cast-iron skillet with a quick and simple pan-sear, and when paired with compound butter, the notably rich and beefy flavor and inherent juiciness shines brightly. This cut comes from the plate primal section of the cow, which is considered the lower belly, making it a naturally tender cut. Though once a butcher’s best kept secret, hanger steak has grown in popularity in recent years and thus, often isn’t sold quite as shockingly cheap as it once was. That said, it’s still usually going to ring in less expensive than ribeye, and arguably packs a dreamier flavor and tenderness level.
When you want to pull out your slow cooker or Instant Pot, stew meat is the cut. Stew meat pieces generally come from the neck and shoulder sections of the animal. It tends to be cut and sold in roughly 1-inch chunks, making it easy jump right into the recipe with. If preparing on the stovetop, the meat usually takes 1-2 hours of gentle simmering to become tender, and longer if you’re using the slow cooker. Therefore, you’re best bet with stew beef is to plan ahead and either make it a weekend meal prep move, cut the cook time with your Instant Pot, or prep the meat and set the Crockpot in the morning before you head off to work, and allow it to slow-cook throughout the day. By time you come home, dinner will be ready to serve.
Some dishes are best when prepared in their most classic and traditional form. This isn’t going to be breaking news for anyone who’s run the home kitchen for a minute, but a hot tip to any less-experienced and aspiring cooks—you rarely go wrong when a classic beef pot roast is the headliner on Sunday’s dinner menu. The chuck roast is cut from shoulder blade of the cow and is readily available in the meat section of most grocery stores. It’s also one of those glorious set-it-and-forget cuts of meat that you can cook, largely hands-free in a slow cooker or Dutch oven.
Chuck- Eye Steaks
Chuck-eye steaks comes from the same chuck primal section of a cow as the chuck roast, and is commonly known as Chuck Delmonico or the poor man’s steak given its affordability. However, this cut is well marbled and when prepared correctly (here’s how), it’s incredibly succulent, and feels quite decadent. Not to mention, when it’s salted prior to searing, the meat forms a glorious crispy crust. Always remember to bast as you cook, as this cut tends to dry out fairly quickly if you don’t
Cube steak is another classic, all-to-familiar cuts many of us remember from childhood, but forget to buy as an adult. This highly budget-friendly cut typically comes from the top round or top sirloin section of the cow and is pounded flat in order to tenderize the meat. The cube steak is best known for being breaded and fried to make an old-school country fried steak, but is also commonly served sauteed with onions and peppers, and can even used as an inexpensive swap for other steak cuts in dishes like this Cube Steak Bulgogi. If you’re an imaginative cook who’s dedicated to the cause of saving a few bucks on your grocery bill, the humble cube steak holds a world of possibility.
Unless you haven’t picked up a food magazine in the past few years, you’ve probably heard of this one. Even still, flank steak remains a great go-to for home cooks with a few mouths to feed. Flank steak is a thin, wide, and long cut of beef that comes from the bottom abdominal section of the animal. Its thinness allows you to pan-sear and cook the cut fairly quickly, and can then be sliced to yield plenty of meat for tacos or sandwiches. It can also be broiled on high in the oven, or sliced first and sautéed for a simple stir-fry or fajita recipe. Especially given its quick cook time, it’s always a good call to marinate this cut before cooking to infuse it with flavor and help break down some of the tough tissue.