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All About Beef

Created January 12, 2017
Beef is a culinary favorite in all its forms. Americans love their beef—and now it’s easier than ever to prepare.
All About Beef

Buying Beef 

Looking for just the right cut of beef? What should you consider? 

  • The surface of fresh beef should be bright red in color (the inside is typically a darker, purplish red). Once exposed to air, beef turns a familiar bright red. 
  • Be sure to look for meat packages that are well-chilled, tightly-wrapped and not excessively juicy. Beef should be purchased on or before the “sell-by” date. Refrigerate or freeze beef as soon as possible after your purchase. 
  • Beef is aged to maximize flavor and naturally tenderize it. Most beef is aged using a “wet aging” process; some beef offered at high-end groceries and steakhouses is “dry aged” for extra tenderness and distinct flavor. Consult your meat counter personnel for recommendations of particular cuts of beef. 
  • Ground beef varies in leanness from 70% (30% fat) to more than 90% (less than 10% fat). The higher fat content of ground chuck and ground round provides moisture and keeps beef from sticking to the pan or grill during cooking, while very lean ground sirloin needs to be cooked in a bit of cooking spray to prevent drying and sticking. 
  • Check the deli counter for cooked and ready-to-eat pot roasts, beef brisket, beef ribs, meat loaf, shredded barbecued beef and beef tips.
  • Fully cooked beef now comes shredded in resealable pouches for soups, salads, side dishes and pizzas. And you’ll find fully-cooked and lightly seasoned ground beef crumbles for chili, tacos and spaghetti. 
  • Planning a kid-friendly beef meal? Try cooked burger bites, beef jerky, microwavable bowls of macaroni, cheese and steak pieces, stars, hearts and dinosaur steak shapes and beef meatballs with cheese, barbecue or ketchup-filled centers. Look for frozen and microwavable steak quesadillas and potato skins stuffed with fajita steak strips, too. 
  • You’ll find slow cooker-ready beef dishes in the fresh meat aisle, along with one-step beef meals and quick-cooking, thinly-fileted beef steaks for casseroles, pita bread stuffing, tortillas and sandwiches & crackers. 
  • In dinner hurry-up mode? Try Betty Crocker Complete Meal® Beef Stroganoff or Hamburger Helper® entrée mixes, including Cheeseburger Macaroni, Three Cheese, Cheddar Cheese Melt, Lasagna, Four Cheese Lasagna, Cheesy Italian Shells, Cheesy Enchilada, Chili Macaroni, Cheesy Nacho and Beef Pasta. 

Cooking Ground Beef 

When it comes to cooking ground beef, there are a few key guidelines to follow: 

  • Cook ground beef thoroughly until brown and well done. Hamburger patties and meatballs should be cooked until their centers are no longer pink and juices are clear. See also Recommended Meat Doneness Chart. 
  • Drain fat with a spoon or baster to reduce fat content and enhance presentation. 
  • Be sure to use a meat thermometer to take the guesswork out of determining ground beef doneness—you’ll eliminate any doubts about salmonella and e. coli by ensuring that your beef dish is safe to eat. 
  • How to thaw frozen ground beef: Only defrost ground beef in the microwave or refrigerator, never at room temperature. Beef should be cooked and eaten on the same day you thaw it. 

Roasting Beef 

Beef is roasted in the oven without water, so start with a tender beef cut, such as eye of round, or choose a beef cut from the Timetable for Roasting Meats. Follow these steps for cooking roast beef that's well-browned on the outside and moist and tender inside: 

  1. Preheat oven to recommended roasting temperature (see Timetable for Roasting Meats). Before roasting, season beef with herbs, rubs or marinades as directed in your recipe. Add extra flavor by sprinkling with salt before cooking. 
  2. Insert the tip of a meat thermometer in the center of the thickest part of the beef roast. Do not lodge the tip in fat or touching bone. Don't cover the roast or add water. 
  3. Line a shallow roasting pan with aluminum foil for easy clean-up. 
  4. Place beef, fat side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. As the fat melts, it bastes the beef, making other basting during cooking unnecessary. 
  5. Cook roast beef at the recommended oven temperature until the meat thermometer reaches the “after roasting" meat thermometer reading in the Timetable for Roasting Meats. The roast will continue to cook after you take it out of the oven. 
  6. Take the beef roast out of the oven and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes or until roast reaches the "Final Meat Thermometer Reading (after standing)" temperature. Beef will be easier to carve after the resting period. 

How to Cook Steak 

Broiling and grilling are ideal techniques for cooking steaks and other tender cuts of beef. High heat seals in moisture and browns beef to perfection. Try these tips for absolutely delicious broiled or grilled beef: 

  1. Position the oven or grill rack so the meat is at the recommended distance from the heat.
  2. Set oven to Broil or heat the grill coals or gas grill to Medium.
  3. Remove excess fat before cooking to avoid flare-ups. Insert a meat thermometer to check for doneness.

    To broil: Place meat on the rack in the broiler pan. Line the pan with aluminum foil for easy clean-up.
    To grill: Place meat on the grill at the recommended distance from heat (check your recipe for specific instructions).

  4. Broil or grill beef for about half the recommended time or until it’s brown on one side. Turn beef and continue broiling or grilling until it’s done to taste. 
  5. See Recommended Meat Doneness Chart for internal temperature guidelines. If you like, season the meat after it’s done.