A Cut Above

These staff favorites deliver big flavor and value.
Charla Draper
A Cut Above
Marinate Lemon-Garlic Sirloin the night before for an easy entrée. This rich thick-cut steak cooks up like a premium roast and delivers great bang for the buck.
Jennifer Davick / Styling Lisa Powell Bailey / Food Styling Vanessa McNeil Rocchio


The supermarket meat case is full of new cuts. The meat industry is trying to deliver more value by developing moderately priced choices suited for weeknight meals. Poultry companies are also making more products available as year-round options to the big holiday bird. But learning what to buy and the best ways to cook them is a challenge. Our Food staff has been in the same boat, so we did some research to help demystify meat counter secrets. We looked to our reader files to see how you are cooking with these popular new choices and found more ideas than we can fit in one story. We had great fun at the tasting table sampling tender, juicy main dishes and swapping tips about our finds.

On the Supper Menu
Turkey tenderloins are the perfect option for quick-to-fix meals. This lean choice can be cooked in a variety of ways, making it ideal for just about any occasion. Remember, this is a lean cut of meat, so you'll want to cook it just until it's no longer pink in the center. You can store cooked turkey in a zip-top plastic freezer bag in the freezer for up to three months―it's on hand to add to prepared pasta, salads, or soup.

Making the Grade
Beef is graded by the USDA according to standards for quality. Quality is rated according to the age of the animal, the amount of fat flecks, or marbling, found in the lean meat, and the texture, color, and appearance of the lean meat. The grades most familiar to consumers are Prime, Choice, and Select.

  • Prime is the most tender, juicy, and flavorful. It has the most marbling of the grades. It is usually sold to hotels, restaurants, gourmet markets, or butcher shops.
  • Choice is the most widely available grade found in supermarkets. It has less marbling than Prime, but is also tender, juicy, and flavorful.
  • Select has uniform quality and slightly more lean meat than the higher grades. Because it has the least amount of marbling, it may be less juicy and slightly less flavorful.
  • Poultry grades indicate that the poultry does not have defects―bruises, discoloration, and feathers. Bone-in products should not have broken bones, and products with skin should not have tears or exposed flesh that will dry out during cooking.
  • Grade A is the highest quality poultry and is probably the only grade you'll see in retail stores.