From grilling steak to smoking pork, choosing and preparing different cuts is all a matter of preference. Here’s how to go about selecting cuts of meat for grilling, smoking, and more.
Here are some of the most used cuts of meat.
Filet Mignon – Cut from the tenderloin, filet is a very tender cut, but lacks the beefy flavor of other cuts. Consider grilling this with a good rub or marinade.
Flank Steak – A beefy, full-flavored steak cut from the chest and side, this steak is thin and cooks quickly. To retain the juices in the meat, let it rest for a few minutes before carving against the grain.
Porterhouse and T-Bone – Cut extra thick, these give you the taste and texture of the strip and the tenderloin. To prevent them from overcooking, sear the steaks with the strip portion facing the hottest part of the fire and the tenderloin facing the cooler side.
Rib-Eye Steak – Cut from the rib, they are very tender, beefy and well-marbled with fat, which makes them great or grilling and smoking. They should be thick and seared over a medium-high heat. Move to. A cooler spot on the grill to finish. For one of our favorite ways to reverse sear rib-eye steak, check out our recipe here.
Sirloin, New York Strip and Prime Rib – Full-flavored premium cuts that have a natural flavor, which you may want to bring out with a little salt, pepper, and olive oil.
Brisket – The brisket consists of two different muscles. The top muscle, known as the “point”, is fibrous and difficult to cut. The “flat” is leaner and more even, which makes it easier to cut. It’s likely that you’ll find the flat in your local supermarket, trimmed with a thin layer of fat on top. If it’s untrimmed, trim the fat down to ¼” thickness. To test your brisket for tenderness, hold the middle of the brisket in your hand or with a set of silicone tongs. If the ends give, you’ve picked the right one. A rigid brisket is a sign you’re in for a tough time.
Spare Ribs – Pick ribs that are between 2 and 4 pounds. Smaller ribs are more likely to come from a younger animal and will cook faster because they’re more tender.
St. Louis-Style Ribs – These specially trimmed ribs are lighter than spare ribs, topping out at about 2 pounds.
Baby Back Ribs – These flavorful ribs are great if you’re smoking for the first time. Baby Backs are a bit more expensive than Spare, but they’re the most tender and cook faster.
Pork Butts and Picnics – Also known as pork shoulder, these cuts are similar but with different bones. There isn’t much difference between them, so if your supermarket doesn’t offer both, don’t worry. You can remove to bone or cook them bone-in, depending on your preference.
Tip – Meat cooked on the bone shrinks less. It also allows you to quickly test for tenderness. When the meat is ready, the bone slides out easily. Buy your butt with the fat on and trim it to suit your taste. And remember – fat equals flavor.
Once you select your cut of meat, it’s time to get cooking. For more grilling inspiration, head to our blog here.