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Beef is the culinary name for meat from bovines, especially domestic cattle. Beef is one of the principal meats used in the Cuisine of Australia, European cuisine and cuisine of the Americas, and is also important in Africa, East Asia, and Southeast Asia. In the Middle East, lamb is usually preferred over beef. Beef is taboo for Hindus and is not eaten by the Hindu population in India. It is also discouraged among some Buddhists.

Beef can be cut into steaks, pot roasts or short ribs, or it can be ground. The blood is also used in some varieties of blood sausage. Other beef varieties include the tongue, which is usually sliced for sandwiches in Western cooking; tripe from the stomach; various glands—particularly the pancreas and thymus—referred to as sweetbreads; the heart, the brain, the liver, the kidneys; and the tender testicles of the bull popularly known as "calf fries", "prairie oysters", or "Rocky Mountain oysters." Beef bones are essential for making certain varieties of soup stock.

The better cuts are usually obtained from the steer; the heifer tends to be kept for breeding. Older animals are used for beef when they are past their reproductive prime. The meat from older cows and bulls is usually tougher, so it is frequently used for mince (UK)/ground beef (US). Cattle raised for beef may be allowed to roam free on grasslands, or may be confined at some stage in pens as part of a large feeding operation called a feedlot, where they are usually fed grain.

The method of cooking beef is largely determined by the cut of beef to be cooked. For example, tender (and generally more expensive) cuts of meat benefit from fast, high-heat cooking while tough cuts benefit from a slower and longer cooking method.

Tender cuts of beef from the loin and rib are best cooked via dry cooking methods, such as charcoal grilling, broiling, roasting, and sautéing.

Grilling: Grilling is characterized by cooking the beef over a high heat source; generally in excess of 650°F (343°C). This leads to searing of the surface of the beef, which creates a flavorful crust. In Australia, Canada and the UK grilling is also known as "Barbecuing".

Broiling: Broiling is similar to grilling, except where grilling is performed with the heat source under the beef, broiling is usually performed in an oven with the heat source above the beef. In the UK and Australia, broiling is known as "grilling".

Roasting: Roasting is a particularly British way of cooking meat which produces the iconic British dish - Roast beef. British roasting is very similar to American broiling, although the heating is from hot air and the meat is cooked all around. Little if any liquid is added. The liquid produced during cooking is decanted from the fat and usually made into a gravy to serve with the sliced beef.

Carpaccio: Raw beef from the finest cuts may be prepared with the option of searing the sides of the fillet for a few seconds before thinly slicing. This may be served with lemon slices, which when squeezed over the raw beef 'cooks' it.

Stirfry: Mainly a Chinese way of cooking. Cooking oil with agents such as garlic, ginger and onions are added to the wok which are brought to high heat. Then slices of beef (or any other type of meat) which generally cooks longer are added in. Finally the side ingredients of mixed vegetables are added in to cook for a few minutes. This method of cooking emphasizes on the timing of cooking where the result would be both the meat and vegetables 'just cook'.

Tougher cuts of beef from the round, brisket, flank, plate, shank, and chuck are best cooked by moist heat cooking methods, such as braising, pot-roasting, and stewing. (Some of the tougher cuts may be prepared by dry heat methods given they are tenderized first with a marinade).

Stewing: Stewing involves immersing the entire cut of beef in a liquid.
Braising: Braising involves cooking meats, covered, with small amounts of liquids (usually seasoned or flavored). Unlike stewing, meat cooked via braising is not fully immersed in liquid.

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