If you’ve strolled the meat aisles lately in the grocery store, you’ve probably noticed, like I have, that meat prices are going up. Not willing to forego meat altogether, I’ve been looking for ways to take the tougher and therefore less expensive cuts of beef and make them more tender and tastier. One of the best ways to do this is by marinating meat in advance. I like the idea of throwing some meat and marinade in a bag in advance, letting it do all the hard work, so that all I have to do is cook something tasty.
I got some tips on how to make the most of those lesser cuts to stretch my grocery dollar from the folks at BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com and The Beef Checkoff . So get your zip-top bags ready and let’s marinate!
Tip 1: Identify less expensive cuts of beef that will not only save you money but are perfect candidates for marinating to increase tenderness. Those include Chuck Pot Roast (arm, shoulder or blade); Round cuts including Eye of Round Steak, Bottom Round Steak and Bottom Round Roast; Brisket Flat Cut and Flank Steak.
Tip 2: Match the lean cut with the appropriate cooking method. Click here for the Beef Checkoff at BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com quick guide. The items with an asterisk require marinating. I found it really helpful to have this in mind when shopping because I’m not always sure of the right way to cook a cut of beef that will give me the best result.
Tip 3: Marinate both for flavor and tenderness. Ingredients such as vinegar, wine and lemon juice go to work on tougher, lean cuts, making them really tender. This works especially well with Top Round or Flank when you marinate for 6-24 hours. The recipes on this chart gave me lots of ideas for how to flavor the meat for various meals I’m making.
Tip 4: This one, I had never really thought about but the degree of tenderness also comes from how “done” the meat is. Duh, I guess that’s why my friend who loves well-done meat tells me she likes it when it’s “cooked like leather.” While that may be appealing to her and others, the The Beef Checkoff at BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com information says steaks and roasts are most tender at medium-rare (145°F) to medium (160°F), while items that have been braised will be fork-tender. This chart helps you know what to look for in pinkness as well as temperature guidelines.
Here’s a helpful video that gives some great tips for those of you, like me, who learn best from observing.
– That’s IT Mom Courtney