Which Cuts of Meat are the Highest Quality?

If you’ve ever been to a nice restaurant, you might be wondering why are some protein entrees much more expensive than others. This is because many cuts of meat from animal protein are considered of such a higher quality than other cuts that it warrants the extra expense. Thus, you most definitely would pay more money for a Rib Eye steak than just a cut of chuck. But knowing which cuts are the best from both beef and pork can greatly help you figure out what is the best cut of meat to order while not exceeding your budget. Thus, here are the best cuts of meat from beef, chicken and pork in order of increasing quality and how most are prepared or butchered.

Beef

When it comes to beef, there’s only one cut that matters as pertains to quality – steak. Other less quality or tougher parts of the cow may be used for ground beef, ribs, whole roasts (like prime rib) or stew meat. However, when it comes to paying high dollar, you have to know which steak will end up costing you the most.

Rib Eye 

Also known as Spencer steak or market steak, a rib eye refers to the cut of beef from the upper rib cage – usually a prime rib cut sliced into individual steaks. It’s usually has a single rib on one side of the outer edge as well as center eye section of finer grain beef separated by the marble of that particular cut. It’s usually very flavorful with a high fat content that only adds to the juiciness of that cut of meat.

T-Bone

This is named for the shape of bone that outlines the top edge and runs through the center of this cut. T-Bone steaks – also known as a Porterhouse – come from the unfilleted short loin of the cow. The reason it’s of a higher quality than Rib Eye even with this bone is due to what each side of this steak is individually used for – with one side often being cut away for New York Strip steak while the other is used for tenderloin. Thus, you get both a buttery cut of loin at the same time as you get a leaner, juicier strip steak.

New York Strip

Also referred to as top sirloin or Manhattan steak, this is the leaner cut from a T-bone steak cut. It tends to be a finer grain of steak while only having significant marbling on one side. Thus, it’s a leaner cut of beef that still has the ability to be succulent and delicious.

Tenderloin

Also referred to as sirloin, Filet Mignon or Chateaubriand, the tenderloin is the other side of a T-Bone. It is a very fine grain of beef that is the most tender cut that composes of a small end (Filet Mignon) and the larger one (Chateaubriand) that often is cooked to buttery yet mild perfection

Chicken

The main cut of chicken that tends to cost more is the breast. This is often due to the labor intensive butchering methods involved in making this cut of poultry. Though not as expensive as beef steak or pork loin, this is tricky to cook without drying it out, so a well-cooked chicken breast is often priced accordingly.

Pork Loin

This refers to the cut of pork that is near the lower rib area on the top of the animal before you get to the end. Cuts of pork from this region include baby back ribs, center loin, and pork tenderloin. This cut of pork tends to be more tender with a high fat content without any extra saltiness. Any pork cut worth the extra money is always from the loin area.