Under the Chicago method of cutting, a beef round represents about 24 per cent of the side, and includes the round or buttock, rump, and shank. The buttock is the round proper, and is especially economical for the average consumer because of the large amount of lean meat and the relatively small percentage of fat and bone. The boned rump and “heel,” or lower part of the round, are excellent for roasts.
As in other wholesale cuts, the class and grade of a round are determined by the class and grade of the carcass from which it comes. The following, from Bulletin 147 of the Illinois Agricultural Experiment Station, describes ways of determining the class of a round under certain circumstances. “Rough or lumpy cod fat indicates a steer round; a soft, flabby bag, a cow round; and a firm or hard bag, a heifer round.” In cow carcasses the udder is frequently removed, but when the udder is absent the underlying tissue is rather loose and porous as distinguished, from the firm fat of a steer carcass. Heifer udders are almost never removed. In some markets (notably at Boston) the cod fat is removed from the round with the flank. When that is done, the class must be determined by considering other factors, such as conformation, finish, and general quality. It may be added that in steer rounds the posterior end of the aitch bone is surrounded by the lean flesh of the “inside” of the round, whereas in cows and heifers it is surrounded by fat.
The varying shapes of rounds, due to the different types of animals, bear a close relation to the grades. Also, the cut surface of the round, next to the loin from which it was separated, provides an excellent index to the grade. Except in the region of the rump or upper part of the round, over the “inside,” and between the muscle seams, there is very little fat in the round. No. A 1, or Prime, Beef Rounds
No. A 1, or Prime, beef rounds have excellent depth of flesh in all parts. In this respect they are far above the average. Such rounds are obtained only from animals of superior beef type that have been specially fattened and finished. Prime rounds appear short and compact, because of their thick, heavy muscles. There is no marked difference in length as compared with other grades. The muscle of the buttock, variously referred to as “outside” or “thigh,” and “inside” or “twist,” are especially well developed. As in all rounds, the “inside” has more thickness, and is somewhat more tender and is therefore more desirable for steaks than the “outside.”
The round is covered with fat varying from one-half to three-fourths inch thick at the point of severence from the loin, gradually becoming thinner toward the shank. The depth of the fat on the rump and the upper portions of the “inside” often exceeds 1% inches. This is especially true of heifer rounds.
Marbling is present in the rump and upper portions of a prime round, but disappears in the heavy muscles. The seam, or inter-muscular fat, is abundant. All fats have creamy or white color, and are brittle, indicating a grain finish. The flesh is of light or cherry-red color in the rump and upper portion of the round, but is slightly darker toward the shank, because of the greater amount of exercise given these muscles by the animal. The flesh of the “inside” is especially attractive and tender, and is only slightly inferior in this respect to a prime rib. The “outside” is tougher than the “inside,” but not to a marked degree.
No. 1, or Choice, Beef Rounds
No. 1, or Choice, beef rounds do not differ materially from prime rounds in depth of flesh. They may be more wasty, especially in the region of the cod in a steer, or the udder in a heifer or cow, or they may be slightly deficient in fat covering and intermuscular fat. The flesh generally is of a light-red color, but may be slightly darker. The fiber may be somewhat coarser than in a prime round. Generally, there is no striking difference between the two grades of rounds in outward appearance, except that some Choice rounds may not have any fat covering on the shanks and lower portion of the “outside.”
No. 2, or Good, Beef Rounds
No. 2, or Good, beef rounds are above the average in depth of flesh and fat covering of the exterior surfaces, but are inferior in these respects to Choice and Prime rounds, usually because of a smaller amount of flesh. They seem longer than Choice or
Prime rounds, but are fairly compact and meaty. The shanks are relatively long and tapering, and usually have no fat covering.
The depth of the fat on the rump and upper round varies from one-half to 1 inch, and even more, especially in cow rounds. The fat covering of the latter often is excessive and wasty over the “inside” and on the rump and upper round. As a rule, Good steer and heifer rounds are somewhat deficient in internal and external fat covering, and also intermuscular fat, as compared with Choice rounds, but show evidence of grain-finish. The flesh is firm, but may be slightly dark and inclined to coarseness, except in rounds from animals of the yearling and short 2-year-old classes.
No. 3, or Medium, Beef Rounds
No. 3, or Medium, beef rounds possess average depth of flesh and appear long and slightly flat. There is a moderate covering of fat over the rump and upper part of the round and on the “inside,” which rapidly disappears over the buttock and toward the shank. The cod, or udder, fats are scant, and there is only a small deposit of intermuscular fat, but enough to make the steak palatable. The muscles have a dark-red color, are slightly watery, coarse, and generally tough. When cut they do not remain in their natural positions, but the ends protrude and appear moist. Medium cow rounds have considerably more fat than steer and heifer rounds of this grade, but their irregular conformation and lack of quality counterbalance the finish.
No. 4, or Common, Beef Rounds
No. 4, or Common, beef rounds are long, flat, or dished, and below the average in depth of flesh. They have scarcely any fat covering or intermuscular, cod, or udder fat. Even Common cow rounds are deficient in this respect. There is a scant covering of fat on the rump and a portion of the upper round and on the “inside,” but the absence of fat on the remaining surfaces gives the cut a dark and unattractive appearance. The shanks are long and tapering, and the “heel” of the round is very light. The flesh is tough, dark, and watery, and the muscles will not remain set in their natural positions. These rounds find an outlet in the trade demanding cheap steaks and roasts.
No. 5, or Cutter, and No. 6, or Canner, Rounds
No. 5, or Cutter, and No. 6, or Low Cutter, rounds are not offered regularly to the retail trade. Some are boned for roasts. Most of them are used in sausage and in beef-ham sets for the dried and corned beef trade. The sets are known as “inside,” “outside,” and “knuckles.” The relative proportion of these cuts to their combined weight is 42, 31, and 27 per cent, respectively. Some markets bone rounds of the Cutter grade for boneless steaks and roasts. The “top” or “inside” is used principally for steaks, while the bottom or “outside” is converted into roasts.