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Beef is meat obtained from a bovine. Beef is one of the principal meats used in European cuisine and cuisine of the Americas, and is important in Africa, East Asia, and Southeast Asia as well. In the Middle East, it is very rare to have lunch without beef.
Beef can be cut into steak, pot roasts, short ribs, or ground into hamburger. Several Asian and European nationalities include the blood in their cuisine as well -- it is used in some varieties of blood sausage, and Filipinos use it to make a stew called dinuguan. Other beef variety meats include the tongue, which is usually sliced for sandwiches in Western cooking; tripe from the stomach; various glands particularly the pancreas and thyroid referred to as sweetbreads; the heart, the brain, the liver, the kidneys; and the tender testicles of the bull commonly known as "beef balls", "calf fries", "prairie oysters", or "Rocky Mountain oysters."
The better cuts are usually obtained from steers, as heifers tend to be kept for breeding. Older animals are used for beef when they are past their reproductive prime. The meat from older cows and bulls is generally tougher, so it is frequently used for ground beef. Cattle raised for beef may be allowed to roam free on grasslands, or may be confined at some stage in pens as part of a large feeding operation called a feedlot.
The United States, Brazil, the EU, China, and India, are the world's five largest producers of beef. Beef production is also important to the economy of Argentina, the Russian Federation, Australia, Mexico, and Canada.
Beef is first divided into primal cuts. These are basic sections from which steaks and other subdivisions are cut. The following is a list of the primal cuts, ordered front to back, then top to bottom. The short loin and the sirloin are sometimes considered as one section. When looking at a diagram such as the one above, note that the closer to the middle back, the more tender the meat is. Since the animal's legs and neck muscles do the most work, they are the toughest; the meat becomes progressively more tender as distance from "hoof and horn" increases.
Chuck - one of the most common sources for hamburger.
Short Loin - the most tender, and the most expensive; from which porterhouse steaks, and filet mignon are cut.
Sirloin - less tender than short loin, but more flavorful.
Brisket and Shank
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