By Elesha Ergle, RDN
Flank steak, short ribs, oxtails, oh my!
If you’re like me, this time of year brings about a new schedule, time to start revamping my cooking style (or lack the thereof from the crazy summer months) and get full-swing into fall recipes. The slow cooker is always at the top of the list to get some cozy meals going for those shorter days and cooler nights.
Here in Alabama, we consider a high of 70ºF as a cold front and start to break out the scarves and sweaters, and of course, make that first pot of chili. While chili is a longtime fall favorite at my house, in celebration of October Beef Month in Alabama, I wanted to draw some attention to a few lesser-known and used cuts of beef to help diversify our recipe portfolios.
We are cattle farmers, so it goes without saying…we eat a lot of beef. Steaks, roasts and ground beef make up the majority of our recipe box. As much as we love beef, though, I rarely stray from my usual routine. We recently took three of our steers to a local processor and were given options of how to have the meat processed. Flank steaks and short ribs would most always make the cut when processing a steer, but we also chose to get the oxtails. Given that I now have these cuts on hand, I Googled, scoured cookbooks, watched YouTube videos and asked friends how they like to cook different cuts of beef. I hope my findings inspire you to try something new as well.
Flank steaks, often referred to as jiffy steaks or London Broil, are cut from the abdominal muscles under the loin. Flank steaks pack a whopping 23g of protein per 3-oz serving with only 6g of total fat and 160 calories. These lean steaks are very flavorful and work well when marinated and grilled or whipped up in a slow cooker to increase tenderness. There is nothing like coming home to the wonderful smell of beef that has been slow cooking all day, and this Taste of Home Slow Cooker Flank Steak recipe works well for those busy days when you need to have your meal ready when you get home from work.
While I do love my slow cooker, I have absolutely fallen in love with the ease and quick use of an electric pressure cooker. An electric pressure cooker will also increase tenderness while adding flavor and significantly reducing cooking time. For those days that you didn’t have time to start the slow cooker before work (or didn’t have all your ingredients that morning) the electric pressure cooker can make you look like Betty Crocker in minutes! If you have an electric pressure cooker and are looking for a great use of flank steak, give this recipe for Asian-inspired Mongolian Beef a try.
Short ribs are often overlooked and underutilized but are very versatile and delicious. They can be purchased boneless or bone-in, and a 3-oz serving of short ribs pack 24g of protein, 12g of fat and just 200 calories. Short ribs have a rich flavor that shines after slow cooking all day. When slow cooking bone-in short ribs, you will find that they have an even richer flavor. This slow cooker short rib recipe is one you can set and forget until dinnertime.
I have a lot of friends that regularly cook oxtails, and they were excited when we came home with oxtails from the steers we had processed. Due to their cost and where the cut originates, a good friend of ours refers to oxtails as the “swinging sirloin.” Unlike sirloin, oxtails have a high fat content with approximately 200 calories per 3-oz serving, depending on cooking method. Even with the high fat content, oxtails still pack that awesome beef punch with about 20 grams of protein per serving. Oxtails are easily prepared and have many different variations on cooking methods. From baking to boiling and braising to slow cooking, these cuts have so much versatility. Nothing says “Southern Soul Food” quite like oxtails smothered in gravy. This recipe for Southern Smothered Oxtails is sure to be a keeper! While this is a rather high-fat meal, a splurge of this warming comfort food with some biscuits is just the ticket as the cooler weather starts to approach.
Another way to highlight the “swinging sirloin” is in beloved fall stews! Oxtail stew is in a slow cooker is delicious and filling, and ingredients can vary depending on what you have available at home or what is in season. This Simply Recipes version of Oxtail Stew is simple and gives great step-by-step instructions. While this recipe calls for parsnips, you could easily substitute potatoes for a more Southern flare. I suggest serving oxtail stew by itself, over rice or serve with hot cornbread close by!
Check out BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com where you can find thousands of nutritious, delicious beef recipes and learn about beef from pasture to plate. Happy cooking and Happy October Beef Month!
This article is funded by Alabama Beef Checkoff Program. Paid for by Alabama beef farmers and ranchers.