Beef cuts with thicker muscle fibers do best with a low and slow cooking approach. Think braising in a Dutch oven, slow cooking, and stews. Tougher cuts tend to be inexpensive and may have a fat cap, so the longer period of time spent cooking allows the muscle fibers to break down and the fat to render off. Common cuts with thick fibers include chuck roast, rib cuts, rump roast, the eye of round, shank, and brisket. An exception to this is the cuts from the plate of the cow. This includes the popular thinner flank, hanger, and skirt steaks. They come from the cow’s abdominal area, and, while tough, do well with a quick sear on a hot grill or sliced and stir-fried, cutting against the grain.
Cuts with thinner muscle fibers do well with dry-heat cooking methods, such as grilling and pan-searing. The cuts with the thinnest fibers come from the loin of the cow, such as tenderloin, filet mignon, and strip. How to decipher if a cut of meat has thick or thin muscle fibers it just takes an eye — if you are able to see bundles of the fibers (known as the grain), they’re considered thick, and low and slow is the way to go. If you cannot make out the fiber and the meat is generally soft upon touch, it’s a tender cut that will fare well with dry and quick cooking.