If you have ever shopped for meat at your local supermarket, you have likely seen the USDA grade shields marking the quality of American beef. What you may not realize is that not all beef is created equal, even with the USDA stamp of approval. In order to find the best quality of American beef, you’ll need to understand USDA beef grades and what makes a USDA Prime steak the best cut available.
What is USDA Grading?
Skilled USDA meat graders evaluate beef for both quality and yield. What does this mean, exactly? Quality refers to the tenderness, juiciness, and flavor of the beef, while yield refers to the amount of usable lean meat. Based on these measures, the USDA awards the beef with a rating. There are eight USDA grades in total, but Select, Choice, and Prime are the top three grades that are awarded, from lowest to highest. These three grades are most commonly found in supermarkets, butcher shops, and restaurants. While it’s not important to understand the nitty-gritty details, as a consumer you should know what each grade means for you in terms of flavor experience. Let’s take a look at what each grade has to offer.
USDA Select Steaks
Select cuts of beef are usually the lowest grade found in supermarkets or restaurants. This grade is leaner than both Choice and Prime Steaks, showing much less fat marbling in the cut. Because of the lower fat content, Select grade beef is generally less juicy and flavorful. Select steaks often have a coarser texture than better quality cuts of beef but are still a decent choice if you plan to marinate or braise the meat before grilling.
USDA Choice Steaks
As the second highest grade of beef, Choice steaks have slightly more marbling than Select steaks. Choice cuts from the loin or rib area are excellent for broiling, roasting, or grilling as they will be more tender, juicy, and full of flavor. Less tender areas, such as cuts from the rounds, are perfect braising, roasting, or simmering. Since Choice Steaks show more marbling, some restaurants may try to pass off higher-quality Choice steaks as Prime steaks, so beware of dishonest marketing of Choice steaks.
USDA Prime Steaks
This grade of beef is produced from younger cattle that have been well-fed. It is easy to spot Prime steaks because of the beautiful fat marbling in the meat. Prime beef is the best quality cut with amazing tenderness, juiciness, and flavor. While in high demand, Prime steak only accounts for 2% of all beef produced in the United States. You most likely will not find this cut of beef at your local grocery store, and instead will need to venture out to your favorite steakhouse or restaurant to enjoy the rich, quality flavor of Prime steak.
Enjoy USDA Prime Steaks at CityGate Grille
If quality Prime steak is calling your name, look no further than CityGate Grille, where USDA Prime steaks are the star of the menu. With delicious cuisine and the perfect atmosphere, CityGate Grille is the best night out in Naperville. Give us a call at (630) 718-1010 to reserve your table and enjoy the best quality steak in town.