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Red meat - really that scary?

I used to never eat red meat but started to eat very lean ground beef and the occasional filet at a restaurant mostly because of my new husband who eats the equivalent of what 3 people can eat and needs meat at every meal. If you've ever been to Chicago and ordered deep dish pizza, he has eaten half of a deep dish pizza meant to feed 5 people. He is not overweight at all (he's recently lost about 15 lbs because of this relentless heat we've been having) but fortunate to have one of those metabolisms plus he also has a very labor intensive job which makes him even hungrier.

Anyway because I never used it eat red meat I know absolutely NOTHING about it and it is starting to make daily home cooking difficult. Because of a family history of heart attacks and early deaths (ie in their 40s) I am afraid of making poor nutritional choices, yet don't want him to starve to death. He does not care for pork except for the occasional bacon and pepperoni. He is getting sick of chicken breasts and won't even look at ground turkey any more lol. He likes fish but only a day or so a week (I agree with this).


Is red meat REALLY as scary as it is made out to be?

What are the leanest cuts of meat/steaks?

What can you tell me about the different types of steaks out there?

What should I absolutely stay away from no matter what?

I'm completely uneducated about red-meat so please keep this in mind, I know nothin'!

Thanks for your help :)

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  1. I can't imagine that anyone "needs meat at every meal" and will assume it's hyperbole. That said, I would think most any food in moderation is not that scary unless your genes have a predilection for early heart attacks as in your family history.

    If you're going to serve a lot of red meat I would absolutely find meat that is 100% grass-fed. Also look to bison. For beef the leanest cuts are eye of round, top round and bottom round.

    You might want to expand his idea that only meat can fill him up. All kind of beans and legumes can be filling. There are good meat substitute products out there like TVP and seitan. My husband has a big appetite and is not overweight either, but we do just fine without any red meat or pork and extremely little chicken. We do have fish once or twice a week. Good luck!

    1 Reply
    1. re: gourmanda

      I've been wondering why I've been seeing bison pop up lately. Really expensive but every once in a while not bad. Have not tried it yet.

      He does have this idea that only meat will fill him up and I've been trying to "cull" that idea but it's pretty ingrained in his head.

    2. Folks, this is the Home Cooking board, so please focus on the types of cuts and how to cook them.

      1. Since I posted about this in the other thread, London broil is lower in fat. It can be served hot or cold, just slice against the grain, very thinly. I don't use a recipe but this one looks along the lines of something I'd do:


        1 Reply
        1. re: chowser

          I forgot to add, if you're looking for low fat cuts, look for the words "round" or "loin." You'll get a huge discussion on fat which I want to stay away from so I'll stick w/ your question on which are the leanest. The key with any of the leaner cuts is not to overcook them, if anything cook them as little as you can. Cut thinly and against the grain. It can help to marinade them longer or pound them.

          If you want steak, sirloin is probably your leanest best. Pound and marinade. Cook rare if he'll eat it that way.

        2. You might also consider whole chickens rather than just the breasts.

          1. I don't think there is any reason at all to be afraid of beef. My personal belief is that an ideal diet would have relatively small (3-5 ounce) portions of beef 2-3 times a week or less.

            Most cuts that come from the round are very lean. You might see it labeled as eye of round or London broil or just round steak. It needs to be handled properly to yield a tasty product.

            My mom used to braise an eye of round and then chill over night. The next day she would slice thinly, across the grain, and reheat with the pan juices.

            You can brown off round steak in a skillet and then simmer with onions and tomatoes until tender. Very good served with rice.

            1. You said Chicago, which tends to make me think midwestern US; Steak and Potatoes country. If that's the case, i can see where his liking of red meat would come from.

              With the cuts of meat, you want to go with primals (or cuts in a bovine) that are harder working. Legs and such. Typical, everyday cuts i see are ones labeled as London Broil, Tri-Tip, Top Round, Top Sirloin, Eye of Round, Shanks. These are almost devoid of intramuscular fat and very lean.

              Steaks is kinda broad. Technically, that can be anything cut from a 1/4in to 1in or more against the grain of the muscle. The usual types you'll see are...

              Ribeye (sometimes Delmonico or Cowboy steaks - comes from the rib of the cow, probably the more fatty of the ones listed, probably the second most expensive. )

              Strip (sometimes NY Strip or KC Strip - comes from the loin of the cow. Aside from a fatty 'cap' the rest of it is dotted with fat in the main muscle. Might tie ribeye or be just a tad less expensive)

              Filet (which is ALSO lean, but very expensive, you'll see it as Filet Mignon as well. Easily the most costly.)

              T-Bone, Porterhouse (Very simply, both are the same thing except the porterhouse will be thicker. These steaks have both a Strip and Filet attached to each other, and share the same characteristics)

              Chuck Steak (seen labeled as a Family Steak - comes from what would be the shoulder of a cow. Depending on the cut, it may rival Ribeye as the more fattier.)

              So to answer your question of leanest, you'll want to look for cuts labeled as Eye of Round, Filet Mignon, Flank, and Sirloin. Please keep in mind that stores can, to a point, assign names as they see fit (see labeling Chuck Steak as Family Steak)

              What should you stay away from? This confuses me, just what are you seeking to avoid?

              Is red meat scary? I'd say no. Not when done in moderation and with a pretty balanced diet. That doesn't mean that the food pyramid has to be adhered to, just to mix in some other things besides red meat. About the most immediate impact one might have is a heavy feeling. From my experience this is one reason women will either avoid it or eat it in moderation while men will seek it out for that heavy or full feeling. The long term effects would really kick in from a diet that really focused on eating it or was augmented by illness or medications.

              1. Lately I've been buying eye of round steaks. They're super lean, and have a reputation for being tough unless they're cooked for a long time, but I really enjoy them grilled. Marinade 8-24 hours in a ginger soy marinade, grill for just a few minutes on each side, slice and eat. I make enough to have leftovers for a steak salad the next day.

                Also there are many many things one can make with extra lean ground beef which don't require steak cooking skills - chili, meatballs, meatloaf, stuffed cabbage, sloppy joes . . .

                2 Replies
                1. re: cookie monster

                  Good idea w/ the extra lean ground beef. Also, it flavors the food but you don't have to eat a huge hunk of it so you're eating less overall.

                  1. re: cookie monster

                    You need to realize that extra lean beef will overcook faster, and needs to be seasoned or marinade it aggressively, since it lacks the fat, which gives it more flavor & juiciness, naturally.

                  2. No, red meat is not scary, and neither is natural fat in moderation.

                    Another idea is to braise a chuck roast with the usual suspects: onions, garlic, thyme, red wine, S&P, a dab of tomato paste......

                    1. I've never thought of red meat as scary, except for the first time I made a rib roast and was petrified of ruining a $75 hunk of meat meant for a holiday dinner :)

                      I wouldn't eat prime rib eye every night... not good for the wallet or the cholesterol, but lean ground beef and sirloin are good choices.
                      You can buy a piece of chuck, trim well, and cube it to make a stew.
                      Generally speaking, leaner cuts are better cooked no more than med-rare, while fattier/tougher cuts are better suited to braising or stewing.

                      I have successfully subbed lean ground turkey (93% lean, not the 99% lean ground breast) in a chili recipe, and my hubby didn't notice until I told him, now he prefers it that way.