Tag Archives: grades of beef

I’m not ready for Prime time.

10 Dec

I’m not a big advocate of Prime beef.  I like to ask for Choice or Premium Choice instead.  If I eat a Prime steak, I’ll be up all night – it’s too rich for me.  And don’t even talk to me about Kobe – I feel a burp coming on just thinking about it.   But that’s me – maybe you can digest that fat!

Beef is graded according to the degree of fat marbling in the muscle meat.  From “most marbling” to “least marbling”, it’s:

  • Prime
  • Premium Choice
  • Choice
  • Select
  • No Roll
  • Standard

Premium Choice is my favorite all-around grade.  It’s usually a hand-selected, very consistent product.  It’s not usually local;  instead, it’s generally a branded commercial product like Chairman’s Reserve or Sterling Silver.  These are companies that carry a well-marbled, consistent product.

In your supermarket, check the package.  It should have a sticker on it that identifies the beef as “Choice” or “Premium Choice”.  And question the butcher too.  Make sure you’re getting what the package says you’re getting.

Oh, and I know lots of people think that Angus is the best, but really, Angus is just a breed of cow.  It’s not a grade of meat.  So if your supermarket advertises “We carry Angus beef”, remember that Angus comes in the same grades as other meat.

If you’re going local, then go with the reputation of the grower.  Here in Vermont, one of our best is Boyden Farms, which I’d consider a high-end Select.

In your part of the world, remember that since most local meat isn’t graded, you should look for a farmer who doesn’t feed his animal hormones or growth hormones, and who finishes his animal for 60-90 days by limiting its exercise and feeding it something that puts on some fat.

And whose animals are not stressed. This is very important, because stress causes a chemical reaction that toughens muscle.  Just like people.  If you go to the gym six days a week, you’re going to get hard and tough.  Same for animals.

Last thought about stress… this also means humane treatment.  In fact, I believe that humane treatment is a critical element in raising quality beef.  No cattle prods, no over-crowding.  Kindness.