What’s Your Beef – Prime, Choice or Select?
At High Steaks Steakhouse, when you eat dinner with us, you
Will always get USDA Prime that has been aged for thirty five days.
Beef is evaluated by highly-skilled USDA meat graders using a subjective characteristic assessment process and electronic instruments to measure meat characteristics. These characteristics follow the official grade standards developed, maintained and interpreted by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.
Beef is graded in two ways: quality grades for tenderness, juiciness and flavor; and yield grades for the amount of usable lean meat on the carcass. From a consumer standpoint, what do these quality beef grades mean?
First, the three grades of meat that are available for purchase are Select, Choice, and Prime.
Select is the lowest, then Choice, and finally Prime is the highest grade of beef available.
Sure, it says what the grade is on the label, but what is the difference among grades and what does this mean for the quality of meat?
USDA Select beef has a yellowish tint in the fat and has a rubbery texture. As the grade gets higher, the fat gets whiter and firmer.
A lower grade of meat will appear red and shiny, while Prime beef will be flat in color and you won’t see much juice.
Prime cuts are usually aged longer than lower grades. At High Steaks Steakhouse, the meats are wet-aged for twenty one days and dry-aged for fifteen days. Water leaves the meat during the aging process and that’s what makes the beef so tender.
Here is a quick guide to understanding USDA’S beef grades:
The highest grade of beef is USDA Prime. It is characterized by generous fat marbling. Prime roasts and steaks are excellent choices for grilling, broiling, or roasting as they will retain moisture and flavor while cooking.
The next grade down is choice. Although it has less marbling than prime, it still has enough fat content to add flavor and to stand up to dry heat cooking methods. You will need to exercise care to prevent overcooking and drying out the meat.
Select meats have less fat than the higher grades, but is probably still tender. The flavor and level of juiciness will also be less, making marinades, slow cooking, and other wet cooking methods more appropriate than dry heat.
When comparing the lowest grade, Select, to the highest grade, Prime, the flavor might double. If you haven’t tried USDA Prime steak before, our butchers encourage you to take the challenge. Buy a USDA Select steak and a USDA Prime steak in the same cut. Prepare them the exact same way and see for yourself. There is no substitute for quality. Next time that you are craving a fine Prime cut of meat, you will want to visit us at High Steaks Steakhouse