The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association invented the slogan, “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.”, used in United States public awareness campaigns back in 1992. It’s a slogan I remember every time I’m thinking about eating something for dinner with any kind of meat in it. Within the last several years, I’ve learned that there’s more than one animal associated with the word “beef”. I’ve also learned about the different cuts and what they’re called. When it comes to naming things, however, I’m an eater and not a butcher, so I could be wrong about a few things.
Most people think that beef only comes from cattle. Cattle are bovines, members of the bovinae family. It should obviously come from the other members of the same family: Bison (including American Bison, colloquially called buffaloes), gaurs (also call Indian bison), oxen, African buffaloes, water buffaloes, yaks and antelopes. Honestly, though, I don’t know what to call the meat of the other members.
Here in the Philippines, the meat of water buffalo (called kalabaw locally) is sometimes passed off as the meat from cattle. While the taste is similar, the meat is much tougher to chew. I only shop for it at the Royal Subic store at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone because then I’ll know exactly what I’m getting.
Ground beef is commonly called hamburger, though that usage is incorrect. A variety of foods use it, including burgers. I use it in spaghetti and hamburger goulash. Ground chuck comes from the front of the animal while ground round comes from the rear. When I buy it, I make sure it’s 80 percent or more lean (93 is the best I’ve found), without any additives. The same thing goes for patties. I won’t buy locally made patties because they have additives. Instead, I’ll buy them imported from somewhere else and the packaging must state 100 pure beef.
Steak is just a cut of meat of any kind, but commonly refers to beef when used alone and when not specifying any particular part. Brisket refers to a cut from the chest (or breast) of the animal. Prime rib is obviously a cut from the ribs.
There are other cuts and I really can’t get into detail about a subject I know so little about. You have short loin, tenderloin, top sirloin, sirloin, bottom sirloin, plate, flank and shank to deal with as well.
There’s a billion and one recipes in existence, including specific barbecue recipes. Some steakhouses in the United States specialize in beef and some don’t. The ones that do are masters of the different recipes.
My wife, Josie, is in love with T-Bone steaks. She’s had them for breakfast at places like IHOP as well as for lunch and dinner at places like Texas Roadhouse. It’s amazing she has such an affinity for them since she grew up in the Philippines, where fish and rice dominate the day.
One of my favorite dishes is beef stew. While I like the taste of canned stew, I don’t like the additives so I prefer to eat homemade stew (called kaldereta locally) but only when Josie cooks it. I’ve never tried to cook it and I’m afraid I’ll ruin it the very first time I try.
Josie taught me how to cook menudo giniling, which is completely unlike Mexican menudo. It’s kind of like beef stew using ground beef and that’s the only way I can describe it.
I feel for the members of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) who simply can’t enjoy beef. I, however, am a member of PETA (People Eating Tasty Animals) and I enjoy it when I can. Moo.
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