Exploring the Cuts of Beef: Tender Delights on Your Plate

Medallions of beef by Jose Mier in Sun Valley, CA

Chef Jose Mier and His Sun Valley, CA Grill

Chef Jose Mier can think of no other food that has the flavor and fame of beef. How much do you know about this delectable food? If you’re knowledge is limited, have I got an article for you!

Beef, often referred to as the king of meats, offers a wide array of cuts that cater to diverse tastes and preferences. Each cut of beef varies in flavor, texture, and tenderness, making it essential for meat enthusiasts to understand the differences. In this culinary journey, we will delve into the world of beef cuts, highlighting their unique characteristics and uncovering the secrets to achieving the perfect ribeye steak.

Medallions of beef by Jose Mier in Sun Valley, CA
Medallions of beef by Jose Mier in Sun Valley, CA

Understanding Beef Cuts

Beef cuts can be categorized into two main types: primal and subprimal cuts. Primal cuts are the primary divisions of the carcass and serve as the foundation for various subprimal cuts, which are the specific portions of meat that are then further divided into steaks or roasts.

Primal Cuts

  1. Chuck: The chuck, located in the shoulder region, is known for its rich flavor and marbling. It includes cuts like chuck roast and chuck steak, which are ideal for slow cooking and braising due to their toughness.
  2. Rib: The rib section contains some of the most sought-after cuts, including the ribeye and prime rib. These cuts are exceptionally tender and boast a flavorful profile, thanks to the generous marbling.
  3. Loin: The loin section, found along the backbone, is home to premium cuts like the tenderloin, T-bone, and porterhouse steaks. These are prized for their tenderness, lean meat, and exceptional taste.
  4. Sirloin: The sirloin is a versatile section, offering a range of cuts from top sirloin to sirloin tip roast. These cuts are moderately tender and offer a balance between flavor and tenderness.
  5. Round: Situated in the rear leg, the round section contains cuts such as top round and bottom round. These lean cuts are less tender but are ideal for roasts and thinly sliced steaks.
  6. Brisket: The brisket is renowned for its robust flavor and connective tissue. It’s often used for slow-cooked dishes like smoked brisket and corned beef.
  7. Flank: The flank, found in the abdominal area, contains the flank steak. This thin, flavorful cut is best when marinated and cooked quickly over high heat.
  8. Short Plate: The short plate includes cuts like short ribs and skirt steak. Short ribs are great for braising, while skirt steak is perfect for grilling when properly marinated.
  9. Shank: The shank is a tough and gelatinous cut used primarily for stews and stocks due to its high collagen content.

Subprimal Cuts

Within each primal cut, there are subprimal cuts that offer distinct characteristics. For instance, the ribeye, a subprimal cut from the rib section, is celebrated for its unparalleled tenderness and marbling. Here are some popular subprimal cuts:

  1. Ribeye: Cut from the rib section, this subprimal cut is widely regarded as one of the most tender and flavorful. It consists of two primary variations: the boneless ribeye (also known as a ribeye steak) and the bone-in ribeye (commonly referred to as a rib steak). The bone-in version typically has slightly more flavor due to the bone marrow.
  2. Tenderloin: Also known as filet mignon, this subprimal cut comes from the loin section. It’s celebrated for its extreme tenderness but tends to be leaner compared to other cuts.
  3. New York Strip: Cut from the short loin section, the New York strip steak is moderately tender and boasts excellent flavor, thanks to its marbling.
  4. Porterhouse: A large, T-shaped steak that combines the tenderloin and New York strip, the porterhouse offers the best of both worlds in terms of tenderness and flavor.
  5. T-Bone: Similar to the porterhouse, the T-bone steak also includes both the tenderloin and New York strip, but in a smaller portion.
  6. Top Sirloin: This subprimal cut from the sirloin section offers a balance of tenderness and flavor, making it a popular choice for grilling and roasting.
  7. Skirt Steak: Cut from the diaphragm muscle, the skirt steak is prized for its rich, beefy flavor. It’s often used in fajitas and other dishes that benefit from its strong taste.

The Quest for the Perfect Ribeye Steak

The ribeye steak is undoubtedly one of the most cherished cuts of beef, known for its exceptional tenderness and marbling that imparts a luxurious, melt-in-your-mouth experience. Achieving the perfect ribeye steak requires a blend of quality meat selection, preparation, and cooking technique. Here’s a recipe to guide you on your quest:


  • 2 bone-in ribeye steaks (1.5 to 2 inches thick)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Garlic cloves (optional)
  • Fresh herbs (rosemary or thyme, optional)


  1. Choose Quality Steaks: Start by selecting high-quality ribeye steaks from a reputable butcher or grocery store. Look for steaks with well-distributed marbling, as this will enhance both flavor and tenderness.
  2. Bring Steaks to Room Temperature: Remove the steaks from the refrigerator and let them sit at room temperature for about 30-60 minutes before cooking. This allows for more even cooking.
  3. Season Generously: Just before cooking, season both sides of the steaks generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. The salt helps to enhance the natural flavors of the meat.
  4. Preheat the Grill or Skillet: If using a grill, preheat it to high heat. If using a skillet, heat it over medium-high heat and add a small amount of olive oil.
  5. Sear the Steaks: Place the ribeye steaks on the hot grill or skillet. For a perfect medium-rare steak, sear each side for about 3-4 minutes for 1.5-inch steaks, adjusting the time for your desired level of doneness. For medium, aim for 4-5 minutes per side.
  6. Add Butter and Aromatics (Optional): During the last 1-2 minutes of cooking, add a pat of butter to the skillet along with garlic cloves and fresh herbs, if desired. Baste the steaks with the melted butter, garlic, and herbs for extra flavor.
  7. Rest the Steaks: Remove the ribeye steaks from the grill or skillet and let them rest for at least 5 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute within the meat, ensuring a juicy and tender steak.
  8. Slice and Serve: After resting, slice the ribeye steaks against the grain to maximize tenderness. Serve them with your favorite side dishes or sauces.

Remember that cooking times can vary depending on the thickness of your steaks and the heat source, so it’s crucial to use a meat thermometer to achieve your preferred level of doneness. The internal temperatures for steak doneness are approximately 125°F (52°C) for medium-rare, 135°F (57°C) for medium, and 145°F (63°C) for medium-well.

In conclusion, beef offers a diverse range of cuts, each with its unique characteristics in terms of tenderness, flavor, and cooking methods. The ribeye steak, derived from the rib section, stands out as one of the tenderest and most flavorful cuts, making it a favorite among meat connoisseurs. By understanding the nuances of beef cuts and following a well-crafted recipe like the one provided, you can savor the delights of a perfectly cooked ribeye steak, elevating your culinary skills and appreciation for this exceptional cut of beef.