We’ve all been there…standing in front of the meat department’s beef case looking at row after row of steaks and roasts and kabobs and filets and points, not knowing where to even begin to choose the best package. Maybe you have a special someone coming over for dinner that you want to impress. Maybe you have a house full of people coming that you need to feed. Maybe you have the world’s pickiest 3-year old who hates everything! And you want so bad to ask ‘what do I get?’ but you don’t want to have to admit ‘I don’t know what to get!’ Fear not, oh brave shopper! Every problem has a solution and every occasion has the perfect food.
If you have someone you want to impress, your steak skills are a great way to do it! Guys love a large T-bone or porterhouse but a smaller filet mignon or NY strip can be just as delicious, and a little nicer to your wallet. Want to know a little secret? Not only are they nicer to your wallet but they are the same thing! That’s right, I said it- they are the same thing. A T-bone is a large steak divided by a bone in the center shaped like the letter T. On the smaller side of the T, if you were to cut this part off, it would be the filet. The other side? Cut that off and that is what is traditionally referred to as a New York strip steak. A Porterhouse? Well that’s just a larger version of a T-bone. Check out The Beef Checkoff’s informational book on cooking times and temps on all these steaks and more.
Are you cooking for a crowd? Burgers on the grill are a great idea. There are 3 types of ground beef you can get. Standard ground beef is a 73/27 mix which means it is 73% lean meat and 27% fat. This ratio lends this to being the least expensive of the ground beef and the fat adds flavor. A ground chuck has an 80/20 mix, with 80% lean beef and 20% fat. This will make this choice a little more expensive and a little leaner. Typically, this is the ideal ground beef for a burger because you want a certain amount of fat to help flavor your burger. If you are looking for a leaner mix of ground beef for health reasons, ground round, with an 85/15 mix or ground sirloin, with a 90/10 mix is the way to go. Check out this video of Thomas Joseph of Kitchen Conundrum to get even more tips on how to make your burgers perfect for your guests.
In the winter months here in Missouri it gets a little too cold for most of us to want to stand outside and man the grill so a roast may be a better option for serving a crowd. A chuck roast is easy to prepare in the slow cooker with some quartered red potatoes, chopped onions, diced celery, diced carrots, and salt & pepper. You won’t need a bunch of seasonings added because that’s what the other veggies will do- and they are great served on the side too! Just figure on using 1/3 of a pound per serving. If you would rather cook your roast in the oven, go with a rump roast or a sirloin tip roast. A rump roast should be cooked at 325⁰ for 1-1/2 hours, checking with a meat thermometer that it is to your desired doneness. If you prefer your roast medium rare, remove your roast when it is at 130⁰ (the desired temp for medium rare is 135⁰ but the temperature will increase 5-15⁰ while it rests on the counter before being cut and served). For medium look for 140⁰. The sirloin tip roast will cook for 2 to 2-1/4 hours at 325⁰ for a 4-6 pound roast. If you choose a roast that is a leaner cut of beef, it will need to be cooked quicker at a higher temperature because low and slow will make these cuts tough.
The picky eater? Probably the biggest challenge of them all! Any parent will tell you, they may be able to handle the toughest of people at work, but the 2-foot person at home is the toughest negotiator they face all day. Everything is disgusting! But a taco night with ground beef when they can make their own tacos is a great way to encourage independence and trying new things. Spaghetti and meatballs is also a great meal- and you have to sing the required ‘On Top of Spaghetti’ song! For older kids, kabobs on the grill can incorporate veggies as well.
Although there are many options at the meat department’s beef case, there is no reason to be overwhelmed…just remember that all the choices are so you can always pick what is best for any occasion. And the meat department is a great resource for cooking tips and tricks as well so be sure to ask them any questions you may have!