What Part of the Cow is Roast Beef- A Guide to Cow Meat Parts?

Generally, “meat” refers to the flesh of animals we consume as food. It is considered a primary source of protein. On the other hand, beef is a type of meat obtained from the flesh of a mature cow. It is unarguably the most widely consumed meat in the world and the most popular in the United States.

However, many different cuts of beef are available, depending on your preference. In addition, beef cuts have different names, so you must know the exact cut you want to buy and its common name(s). 

If you love eating beef, especially roast beef, you probably have been curious enough to wonder, “what part of the cow is roast beef?” This guide will show you what part of the cow is roast beef and where other beef cuts such as steak, chuck roast, ground beef, brisket, filet mignon, flank steak, and London broil are located in a cow.

You will also find out which cuts are best for roast beef and if roast beef is even good for you. But first, let us answer the question, “WHAT PART OF THE COW IS ROAST BEEF?”

What part of the cow is roast beef?

No particular part of the cow is “roast beef.” Roast beef is generally obtained from many cow parts, including the chuck or shoulder, rib section, rump, loin section, round, hind, and chest section. 

What is roast beef?

The term “roast beef” is used more to describe the cooking method than the specific cut. Roast beef refers to beef that has been prepared using a method known as roasting, where the meat is cooked with dry heat in an oven or over a fire. It is just as the name implies- beef that has been roasted.

What type of cow does roast beef come from?

Roast beef comes from any breed of cow, but breeds like Angus, Hereford, and Limousin are known to have more abundant and tastier fatty meat than a dairy breed with lean meat.

How to select the best roast beef cut

The quality of your roast beef depends mainly on the type and quality of beef cut you bought and how you prepared it. Therefore, selecting the best beef cuts is the first and most important thing in preparing your roast beef. Here are some tips:

  1. Always select beef cuts from the front and hind legs, such as the rib, sirloin, or short loin, along the cow’s top portion. Cuts from these parts are more tender and flavorful. They also tend to roast better than other cuts. 
  2. Select beef cut with some marbling (fat interspersed with lean meat responsible for intense flavor and tenderness) as they roast well and are more flavorful than those without marbling. However, do not choose beef cuts with so much marbling that they become riddled with fat. 
  3. Avoid beef cuts from the parts primarily used in movement, such as the rear legs. They may be cheap, but they are low in quality.
  4. Check for tenderness in the beef cut by gently pressing each piece with your fingers. A tender beef cut contains fewer muscle groups; therefore, it is soft to touch.

Note: Your budget will also determine the quality of the beef cut you can purchase. There are different grades of meat available to consumers in the United States. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) classifies roast beef in three highest quality, namely: prime, choice, and select.

Beef grading is dependent on the amount of marbling in each cut. Prime cuts have the highest marbling and are therefore more expensive than the other cuts; choice cuts are next, and then select cuts. However, the lower grade cuts, such as standard, commercial, utility, etc., are significantly cheaper.  

5 best cuts of meat for roast beef

Although roast beef can be gotten from many parts of a cow, some meat cuts have been recognized as better for roast beef than the others. These include:

  1. Prime rib.
  2. Tenderloins. 
  3. Sirloin. 
  4. Top round.
  5. Tri-tip.

Is roast beef good for you?

Roast beef is a source of protein, fat, vitamin, and minerals necessary for proper growth and development. However, it also contains substances that may increase your health risks, such as saturated fat, which increases heart disease risk. It is therefore advised that you limit your intake of roast beef. 

What cut of beef is best for slow cooking?

Slow cooking is best used to get maximum flavor and tenderness from tough beef cuts. So, you can start to slow cook your beef cut early while doing other things; your beef will be just in time for dinner. Some of the best beef cuts for slow cooking include:

  1. Chuck.
  2. Brisket. 
  3. Rump.
  4. Beef skirt.
  5. Beef shank.
  6. Short ribs.
  7. Oxtail.
  8. Beef shin.

What part of the cow is filet mignon?

Filet mignon is obtained from the short loin or tenderloin, a muscle known as the psoas major. This muscle runs along the cow’s backbone and is rarely involved in its movement; hence, it is more tender compared to cuts from the chuck or shoulder and rump of the cow.

Since tenderloin only constitutes about 1% of the whole carcass, the filet mignon is considered rare and is therefore expensive.

Read also: Why Is Skirt Steak So Expensive?

What part of the cow is steak?

Steak could be obtained from different parts of a cow. However, the quality of steak differs from one part of the cow to another. For example, a part can be tender and requires very little cooking, while another may require a longer cooking time to bring tenderness.

Steak refers to any vertical or horizontal slice of beef cut across or against the muscle grain.

What part of the cow is ground beef? 

Ideally, any part of the cow can be ground beef, but ground beef is usually made of all the trimmings from the other cuts of beef.

When butchering a cow, the bits and trimmings left over as the steaks, chops, roasts, etc., are cut up cannot be sold as anything, so they are gathered into the grinding machine to make ground beef.

However, specific beef cuts can be passed through a grinding machine; for instance, sirloin cuts can be processed into ground sirloin, and chuck or round cuts can be processed into ground chuck or ground round. 

Read also: What Happens When You Keep Raw Ground Beef In The Fridge For Seven Days?       

What part of the cow is a chuck roast?

The chuck roast refers to a chuck beef cut that has been roasted. The chuck cut is obtained from the shoulder and lower neck of the cow, which are among the most muscular parts involved in its movement. Therefore, the chuck cut is tough and excellent for slow cooking.  

What part of the cow does the brisket come from?

What Part of the Cow is Roast Beef- A Guide to Cow Meat Parts?

Brisket is a beef cut obtained from the breast or lower chest area of a cow. It is a tough piece of meat because it comes from a well-exercised muscle, so it requires slow cooking over a long period to be tender.

Typically, brisket has two sections- the flat and the point. When cooked properly, both parts become tender and juicy. Usually, the flat cut is often grilled because it can be sliced easily, while the point cut is best for smoking as it is more flavorful and has more fat content. 

Read also: Is Brisket Beef Or Pork? How Healthy Is It?

What part of the cow is flank steak?

Flank steak is a beef cut from the cow’s abdominal muscles, directly below the loin.

What part of the cow is London broil?

London broil is marinated, quick-broiled, or grilled beef, usually flank steak. Nowadays, you might get different beef cuts such as top round, rib eye, or even rump sold as London broil.

Finally, you answered your question: “WHAT PART OF THE COW IS ROAST BEEF?” In addition, you have also learned to identify the location of other beef cuts such as steak, chuck roast, ground beef, brisket, filet mignon, flank steak, and London broil in a cow.

More importantly, you can now select the best cuts for roast beef, which means you will be getting tastier and more flavorful roast beef. However, roast beef’s consumption should be minimal as it contains substances that may increase your health risks, such as saturated fat; unhealthy fat that increases the risk of heart disease. 

By Luong Tan

Luong Tan, the creative and passionate founder of Bourbono, is a multi-talented individual with a deep love for the culinary arts. An accomplished food blogger, cookbook author, and former Ambassador of US cuisine in Vietnam (2015-2016), Luong has been on a mission to share his appreciation for food with the world.

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