Good beef starts with finding the right cow. The best time to slaughter a cow for beef is when the cow is between a year and a half and two years old. When the beef is the right color and texture you know that it is good quality. The United States Department of Agriculture is responsible for helping consumers who are not able to follow a cow and make sure that the beef that they get is the right cut. The United States Department of Agriculture has a system of codes that they use to facilitate this process, and they use stamps of colored vegetable dye to mark pieces of beef.
The best rating is United States Department of Agriculture prime, which means that the beef is of the highest quality recognized by that body. The next levels, in order, are United States Department of Agriculture choice, United States Department of Agriculture select, United States Department of Agriculture standard, United States Department of Agriculture commercial, and United States Department of Agriculture utility, and United States Department of Agriculture cutter and canner. The best beef comes from young cows that are fed with special diet. Lower grades come from old cows and the diets that those cows were fed may not have been so specific. The uses to which a particular kind of beef can be put depend on the quality of the beef. For example, a high end restaurant should be expected to use prime, whereas processed beef products like sausages are usually made from United States Department of Agriculture cutter and canner.
To prepare a steak to be cooked, store it in a dry place so that bacteria do not grow easily. If the beef is not going to be cooked soon after purchase it should be placed in new storage, taken out of the storage that was used by the store, and cooled in a fridge. When you are ready to cook beef that has been in the freezer it needs to be defrosted first, before it is ready to cook.
This can be done best by letting the beef stand at room temperature. You can either cook your beef using wet or dry heat. Dry heat is good for the more tender cuts, but for the tougher cuts wet heat is good since it helps to soften the beef and make it more palatable. You can cook the beef for just a short period of time and serve it rare, or medium, or you can cook it much longer and it will be well done.
This choice is up to the person who is going to eat the beef. Each person has his own preference, and the cook should find out how someone likes his beef before preparing it, so that he can plan the cooking. You want the meal to arrive hot and exactly the way the person wants it, so it takes some timing to get it right. There are limits for the sake of safety to how rare you can cook a piece of beef.
Well done beef is actually the safest to eat, since you can be absolutely sure that all the bacteria have been killed during the long cooking time. If there is still some redness in the beef, as in the case of rare or medium rare, you have to be sure that the whole piece of beef has been heated enough to kill bacteria. If the middle part of the beef has not been heated to sufficient heat to kill the bacteria then the person eating it might get sick. You have to be very careful and make sure you know what you're doing if you want to make a rare or medium rare steak.
Well done beef however, is safe even for rookies to cook.
Gregg Hall is an author living in Navarre Beach, Florida. Find more about this as well as quality steaks at http://www.primesteaksplus.com