Monday, September 19, 2011

101 on Meat Grading

Just the other day I was visiting with my Fresh Market butcher, Kelly, about meat grading.  This is what he had to say.  There are three grades of meat available in US grocery stores; they are "Prime" cuts, "Choice" cuts, and "Select" cuts. 

Prime cuts of meat are the very best.  They are also the most expensive cuts of meat and are typically sold to restaurants.  Kelly said a few specialty grocery stores carry Prime cuts; however most do not due to the high price and small consumer demand.  I asked Kelly what he meant by the "very best".  He said Prime cuts of meat have more fat marbling and as a result are juicier and more tender than other cuts of meat.

Choice cuts of meat are what most of us purchase in grocery stores.  These cuts of meat have less marbling than Prime cuts but are still juicy and tender.

Select cuts contain the least amount of marbling and as a result may be tougher and less juicy requiring stewing or braising cooking methods.  On a more positive side, Select cuts of meat are nutritious, leaner, and less expensive than other cuts of meat.

Helpful hint: Talk to your butcher about any meat question you may have such as special orders, nutrition, cooking methods, and recipes, to name a few.  Butchers have a wealth of knowledge and are very happy to share that knowledge with their customers!

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