Marbling, the term used to describe flecks of fat within the red meat and based on the marbling the high-quality beef is differentiated into four grades (Prime, AAA, AA and A) in Canada. More than 85% of beef raised in Canada fall under these 4 grades.
Prime grade beef is the highest quality you can get. The Prime grade beef contains abundant marbling within the meat. It makes the meat more tender and juicier. About 2% of all beef produced in Canada earns the “Prime” designation.
AAA-grade beef has a little amount of visible marbling than Prime. Yet like Prime, the AAA grade is a very high-quality category that will provide a juicy, tender cut of beef that is resilient in a variety of cooking methods. Up to 50% of graded beef reaches AAA quality and status.
AA-grade beef is a slight step down from AAA-graded beef with only a slight amount of marbling than AAA grade, Still, 45% of graded beef falls under the AA heading and it still can provide an excellent cooking and dining experience.
A-grade beef which is the lowest grade of the high-quality category only consists of 3% of graded beef in Canada. Still considered adequate to be listed as high quality, A-grade beef should be cooked a little more carefully for best results due to the less evenly distributed fat.
You already know tenderness and juiciness are highly dependent on the location of the meat in the animal. Tenderloin, Rib-eye, Sirloin, T-bone, New York are the most famous ones in Canada.
Usually, tenderloin steaks are boneless. Tenderloin sits beneath the ribs, next to the backbone. When trimmed of silver skin, gristle, and fat, tenderloin is small and compact. The meat is lean and very fine-grained in texture. Because of its smaller shape, tenderloin steaks are cut thicker than most steaks. The tenderest of all the steaks and lean, tenderloin is buttery and mild in flavour. Because steaks of tenderloin tend to be thick, the best way to cook it is to sear the outside until browned, then finish the cooking in the gentle, even heat of an oven.
Ribeye steaks are sold as bone-in or boneless. Ribeye steaks come from the upper ribcage, ribs #6-12. Ribeye steaks are prime rib or standing rib roast cut down into individual steaks. Lots of fat marbling the meat and large pockets of fat interspersed throughout. The middle eye has a finer grain while the outer section is looser and fattier. Usually, ribeye steaks are deeply beefy and juicy, with plenty of fat to carry their flavour. Ribeye steaks can be cooked over high heat- pan sear, broil, or grill.
Top sirloin comes from close to the rear of the animal, right underneath the tenderloin strip portion. It is sold as boneless. Sirloin steaks aren’t tender like tenderloin or ribeye steaks, as it comes from the very muscular area. But Sirloin steaks have an incredibly rich flavour without a lot of fat. Most people prefer to cook sirloin steaks on the grill.
T-bone steak is a cross-section of the short loin. A T-shaped bone with meat on both sides of the longer portion of the bone. On one side is a piece of the tenderloin with buttery flavour, and on the other side is a New York strip with a beefy flavour. Because there are two different kinds of steak in one cut, you have to be careful as the tenderloin piece will cook more quickly than the strip side. Try to keep the tenderloin further away from the heat source.
New York Steak
Usually, New York steaks are boneless and almost rectangular with a slightly tapered edge. The meat is fine-grained in texture. The New York steaks have a lot of beefy flavours with a nice balance of lean meat and fat. It can be cooked over high heat- pan-sear, broil, or grill.