In the Kitchen

The Primal Cuts of Beef: The Round

The Primal Cuts of Beef: The Round

The round cut of beef typically makes up about a quarter of the full weight of the animal. That’s why it is the source of so many different cuts of beef, from the full round to the bottom round and whole top round. 

The round also is the source of lean meat that can be used as quality protein for active consumers who want to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The round provides classics such as Swiss steaks and rump roasts - the sort of dishes that usually are eaten by a family sitting around the table for dinner.

The round has a well-deserved reputation for offering a lot of beef that can lead to multiple dishes, many of which are comfort food for beef lovers.

The Cuts of Beef

The round is one primal cut of beef among many. Knowing the flavor profiles and potential dishes of the various cuts of beef can help consumers make smarter choices on what they want to buy. Each primal cut comes with its own flavor profile, marbling and level of tenderness.

The U.S. primal cuts are typically the chuck, rib, loin, round, flank, short plate, brisket and shank. Sub-primal cuts are taken from these primal cuts (such as the whole top round from the round) and then cut into portions that are sold to customers.

Where The Round Is Located

The round is the hind leg of beef that extends from the rump down to the ankles. All the cuts from the round meet government standards for lean. These cuts can be more tough than others because the muscles have had plenty of exercise. However, the right cooking methods and  marinade can make them juicy and flavorful.

The three main cuts from the round are:

The Knuckle, This runs along the thigh on the front of the leg between the knee and the hip. It’s the source of a sirloin tip - even though it comes from the round, not the sirloin.

Top Round. This comes from inside the leg. It’s more tender than the bottom round, but it’s all relative. Because of its toughness, the top round is perfect for slicing thin and using in roast beef sandwiches.

Bottom round, This comes from the outside of the leg. It’s the source of the rump roast. The bones from the bottom round also are among the best for making beef stock.

Dishes Using the Round

As mentioned above, sirloin tips are from the round, as are the sirloin tip center roast and sirloin tip center steak. The round also is the source for a good London Broil, as well as thinly sliced roasts (thin to make it easier to chew). You’ll want to serve it with a sauce to make it tastier.

A full round cut also can be used to make a pot roast, slow cooked with vegetables over the course of a day.

The top round produces a good Swiss steak, but you’ll want to manually tenderize the meat before cooking. A marinade also helps but remember that marinades add flavor more than they tenderize the meat.

You’ve also eaten round in tacos and other recipes that call for ground beef. Ground round is a staple in the meat counter of every grocery store.

Roasts from the round are also a favorite of parents or couples who both work. The round roast is best if slow cooked throughout the day, tenderize the meat. It also can be combined with a variety of items to make different roasts, including a spicy southwest roast or a traditional Irish pot roast with potatoes and carrots.

The round is an excellent source of beef and one of the least expensive cuts. For those who know a few tricks such as slow cooking, tenderizing and marinating, they are good buys that will give home cooks many choices in how to approach making a meal.

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