See J. Simpson and D. Farris, The World's Beef Business (1982); J. Ubaldi, Jack Ubaldi's Meat Book (1987).
Domesticated bovids that are raised for meat, milk, or hides or for draft purposes. Depending on the breed, mature bulls (fertile males) weigh 1,000–4,000 lbs (450–1,800 kg); cows (fertile females) weigh 800–2,400 lbs (360–1,080 kg). All modern cattle are believed to belong to either of two species (Bos indicus or B. taurus) or to be crosses of the two. About 277 identifiable breeds include those prominent in beef production (e.g., Angus, Hereford, and shorthorn) and dairy farming. Cattle feed primarily by grazing on pasture, but in modern farming their diet is ordinarily supplemented with prepared animal feeds. Seealso aurochs, Brahman, ox.
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Flesh of mature cattle, as distinguished from veal, the flesh of calves. The best beef is obtained from steers (castrated males) and heifers (female cows that have not calved). Tenderness and flavour are improved by aging; in one common method, the carcass is hung for about two weeks at approximately 36 °F (2 °C). The world's primary beef producers and consumers are the U.S., the European Union, Brazil, China, Argentina, and Australia. Grading standards are relatively uniform; in the U.S., grades range from prime and choice to utility and canner. Beef provides protein and B vitamins; it also contains saturated fat, an excess of which can contribute to heart disease and other health problems. Beef is not eaten by Hindus because of the sacred status of the cow.
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Beef is the culinary name for meat from bovines, especially domestic cattle (cows). Beef is one of the principal meats used in the cuisine of Australia, Europe and the Americas, and is also important in Africa, East Asia, and Southeast Asia. In the Middle East, lamb is usually preferred over beef. Consuming beef is more or less universally forbidden by Hindus as bovine are revered throughout many Hindu religious traditions. It is also discouraged among some Buddhists.
Beef muscle meat can be cut into steaks, pot roasts or short ribs, or it can be ground/minced. The blood is used in some varieties of blood sausage. Other parts which are eaten include the meaty tail, tongue, tripe from the stomach, various glands—particularly the pancreas and thymus—referred to as sweetbreads, the heart, the brain (although forbidden where there is a danger of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, BSE), the liver, the kidneys, the tender testicles of the bull (known in the US as "calf fries", "prairie oysters", or "Rocky Mountain oysters"), intestines, and the udder. Beef bones are used for making soup stock.
The better cuts are usually obtained from the steer; the heifer tends to be kept for breeding. Older animals are used for beef when they are past their reproductive prime. The meat from older cows and bulls is usually tougher, so it is frequently used for mince (UK)/ground beef (US). Cattle raised for beef may be allowed to roam free on grasslands, or may be confined at some stage in pens as part of a large feeding operation called a feedlot, where they are usually fed grain.
The United States, Brazil, Japan and the People's Republic of China are the world's four largest consumers of beef. The world's largest exporters of beef are Australia, Brazil, Argentina and Canada. Beef production is also important to the economies of Uruguay, Nicaragua, Russia and Mexico.
After the Norman Conquest, the nobles who ruled England naturally used French words to refer to the meats they were served, so the animal called cu (cow) by the Anglo-Saxon peasants—who, it seems, rarely got to eat one—was called boeuf (ox) by the French nobles—who did not often deal with the live animal—when it was served to them for dinner. This is one example of the common English dichotomy between the words for animals (with largely Germanic origins) and their meat (with Romanic origins) that is also found in such English word-pairs swine/pork and sheep/mutton.
See the external links section below for links to more beef cut charts and diagrams.
The following is a list of the American primal cuts, ordered front to back, then top to bottom. The short loin and the sirloin are sometimes considered as one section.
In the United States, the USDA operates a voluntary beef grading program. The meat processor pays for a trained USDA meat grader to grade whole carcasses at the abattoir. Users are required to comply with Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) grade labeling procedures. The official USDA grade designation can appear in one or any combination of the following ways: container markings, individual bags, legible roller brand appearing on the meat itself, or by a USDA shield stamp that incorporates the quality and/or yield grade.
There are eight beef quality grades. The grades are based on two main criteria: the degree of marbling (intramuscular fat) in the beef, and the age of the animal prior to slaughter. Some meat scientists object to the current scheme of USDA grading since it does not take tenderness into account. Most other countries' beef grading systems mirror the US model. Most beef offered for sale in supermarkets is graded choice or select. Prime beef is sold to hotels and upscale restaurants. Beef that would rate as Standard or leaner is almost never offered for grading.
Utility, Cutter, and Canner grade are rarely used in foodservice operations and primarily obtained by processors and canners.
Traditionally, beef sold in steakhouses and supermarkets has been advertised by its USDA grading; however, many restaurants and retailers have recently begun advertising beef on the strength of brand names and the reputation of a specific breed of cattle, such as black angus.
Tender cuts of beef from the loin and rib are best cooked via dry cooking methods, such as charcoal grilling, broiling, roasting, and sautéing
|Very rare||115 – 125°F (46 – 52°C)||Blood-red meat, soft, very juicy|
|Rare||125 – 130°F (52 – 54°C)||Red center, gray surface, soft, juicy|
|Medium rare||130 – 140°F (54 – 60°C)||Pink throughout, gray-brown surface, often remains juicy|
|Medium||140 – 150°F (60 – 66°C)||Pink center, becomes gray-brown towards surface|
|Medium well||150 – 160°F (66 – 71°C)||Thin line of pink, firm texture.|
|Well done||>160°F (>71°C)||Gray-brown throughout, tough texture.|
Meat has usually been cooked in water which is just simmering; higher temperatures make meat tougher. Since thermostatic temperature control became available, cooking at temperatures well below boiling, to , for prolonged periods has become possible; this is just hot enough to dissolve connective tissue and kill bacteria, with minimal toughening.
Steak tartare is a French dish made from finely chopped or ground raw meat (often beef). It is often served with onions, capers, seasonings like fresh ground pepper and Worcestershire sauce, and sometimes raw egg. Kibbeh nayyeh is a similar Middle-Eastern dish. And, in Ethiopia, a ground raw meat dish called Kitfo is eaten.
Carpaccio of beef is a thin slice of raw beef dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and seasoning. Often the beef is partially frozen before slicing to allow very thin slices to be cut.
Yukhoe is a variety of hoe, raw dishes in Korean cuisine which is usually made from raw ground beef seasoned with various spices or sauces. The beef part used for yukhoe is tender rump steak. For the seasoning, soy sauce, sugar, salt, sesame oil, green onion, and ground garlic, sesame seed, black pepper and juice of bae (Korean pear) are used. The yolk of a raw egg is mostly topped on the beef.
Corned beef is a cut of beef cured or pickled in a seasoned brine. The "corn" in "corned beef" refers to the "corn" or grains of coarse salts used to cure it. The term "corned beef" can denote different styles of brine-cured beef, depending on the region. Some, like American-style corned beef, are highly seasoned and often considered delicatessen fare.
A study released in 2007 by the World Cancer Research Fund reported “strong evidence that red meat and processed meats are causes of bowel cancer” and recommends that people eat less than of cooked red meat weekly, and as little processed meat as possible. The report also recommends that average consumption in populations should not exceed per week, stating that this goal "corresponds to the level of consumption of red meat at which the risk of colorectal cancer can clearly be seen to rise.
In 1984 the use of meat and bone meal in cattle feed resulted in the world's first outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or, colloquially, mad cow disease) in the United Kingdom. Eating beef from cattle with BSE is thought to have caused a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in about 131 cases (2003 June data) in the United Kingdom and a few in France. BSE is an illness that cattle can contract when they are fed infected animals (especially the brains and spinal cords). The perception of beef as potentially-lethal damaged the UK beef industry. Attempts to wipe out BSE in the UK by a slaughter-and-burn campaign further damaged the beef industry.
Since then, other countries have had outbreaks of BSE: