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What Is Beef Topside?

By Lee Johnson
Updated May 16, 2024
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Beef topside is a cut of beef taken from the round of the cow. Generally this is one of the leanest, or most fat-free, cuts of beef available, but it is often bought surrounded by a layer of fat. The cut can be used in many different dishes, such as beef bourguignon, and it can also be roasted whole or stir-fried. As a result of the low fat content of the cut, it is best cooked slowly in order to prevent the meat from drying out. Top round is another common name for this cut.

The round is located above the back legs of the cow, literally on the top portion of the animal. It is located just above the shank, which is the section of meat close to the back legs of the animal. Beef topside is taken from the round, and has no bones in it. The topside cut is the closest one to the back end of the animal, with the sirloin and tenderloin cuts directly next to it.

Meat that comes from beef is all muscle fiber; the amount the muscle is used during the cow’s life affects the qualities of the meat it produces. Less-used muscles are generally higher in fat content, which makes them moister when cooked. Beef topside is amongst the leanest cuts of meat, because it comes from a frequently used and powerful muscle. This means that it is a particularly healthy cut of beef, but one that is also prone to drying out during cooking.

In order to keep the meat moist, it is best cooked slowly in a covered dish. Generally, the meat will be roasted in the oven, with a small amount of stock in the bottom of the dish. Covering the cooking dish prevents the moisture which evaporates during cooking from escaping, and therefore makes the resulting meat juicier. Searing the meat in a frying pan prior to cooking can also help to keep moisture inside the meat. Beef topside is often coated in a layer of fat to help it baste in its own juices during cooking.

Many different dishes can be made using beef topside. Among the most well-known of these is beef bourguignon, a French dish in which the topside meat is sliced into cubes and cooked in red wine and stock. The cut can also be roasted whole and then sliced into individual steaks. Beef topside is also suitable for cutting up into pieces to be used for a stir-fry.

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Discussion Comments
By anon1004717 — On Apr 05, 2021

I searched for the term online and found that it is rump roast.

By Izzy78 — On Jul 27, 2012

@stl156 - Beef bourguignon and pot roast are very similar, but have a different flavor. I guess you could say that pot roast is more of the Americanized version of beef bourguignon. The main things that separate the two is the use of alcohol and bacon.

The keys to a good beef bourguignon are using high quality bacon and a good cooking wine and Cognac. I have seen people try to make the dish without the alcohol, and it just doesn't work. There's really nothing to worry about considering the alcohol is all burned off anyway during cooking. If you're going to cook this, though, you also have to be comfortable with lighting the Cognac at one point.

Although you could make beef bourguignon in a slow cooker, using a Dutch oven and stove top is the traditional way and makes for a better dish. By cooking all the parts separately, you have the opportunity to taste the dish along the way and make modifications where needed.

By stl156 — On Jul 26, 2012

I have never tried this beef bourguignon that the article mentioned. Could someone explain to me what it is exactly? I looked up a recipe for it, and it seems like it is basically the same thing as pot roast to me. You have the meat and combine it with potatoes, onions, and carrots. Maybe I am missing something, though.

I am always looking for new recipes and would definitely consider making it sometime if anyone here would recommend it. As far as making the dish goes, are there any little secrets or tricks for getting the best flavor out of the meat. I find that using cheaper cuts like this take a lot of seasoning, because there is no fat to give it natural flavor.

I would also be interested in hearing about any other good recipes for using beef topside.

By kentuckycat — On Jul 26, 2012

I think one of the other benefits to using beef topside besides it being inexpensive is that it usually comes as a large roast, so you can cut it in half and use it for a couple of different recipes. Most of the cuts I find in the store are at least 2 pounds.

Besides the slow cooker, you can still cut up the beef and use it in a skillet as long as you are careful with it. The key is to cook the meat "low and slow" meaning that you use a low temperature for a long time. It is the same principle a slow cooker uses.

I would say the most popular method would be braising. That is how I usually cook lean pieces of meat. Basically, you put a small amount of liquid (usually water or wine) in the bottom of a pan. Then you just set the meat in and let it simmer for close to an hour. By that time, the muscle should be soften and ready to eat. Obviously, the number of things you can do with the meat that that point is limitless.

By TreeMan — On Jul 25, 2012

@starrynight - I'll be the third to say that slow cookers are a great way to cook lean cuts of meat like round steaks. When I got to college and had to start cooking my own food, I found a lot of good ways to cook beef topside, because it is pretty cheap.

A lot of people automatically think that cheap meat or meat without a lot of fat is automatically going to be bad. Like all types of meat, though, if you don't cook it the right way, even a $50 steak will be tough.

The great thing about using a slow cooker is that you can make all kinds of different recipes with inexpensive meat. I've found that you can pretty much substitute top round for any meat that is called for in the recipe. I have used for everything from beef stroganoff to chili to pot roast.

By LoriCharlie — On Jul 24, 2012

My favorite use for beef topside is definitely stir fry. I cut it into really thin slices and stir fry it in soy sauce or a tangy sauce, and it usually turns out pretty well.

I've never made beef bourguignon before, but I think I would definitely like to try it. Beef cooked in red wine and stock sounds delicious to me, and I've been looking for something else to cook with beef topside. As the article said, it is a very healthy cut of meat, but it can definitely be a challenge to cook it so that it tastes good and doesn't dry out.

By sunnySkys — On Jul 23, 2012

@starrynight - Slow cookers are great, aren't they? I really like to use mine to cook a whole meal, not just the meat portion.

That being said, I wish I had had a slow cooker the last time I tried to cook beef topside. I bought some beef topside quite awhile ago, before I really knew how to cook. I just grabbed it because it was less expensive than some of the other cuts of beef that were in the store.

I cooked it in the over without any oil or stock or anything. It turned out horribly! It was so dry I could barely eat it.

By starrynight — On Jul 22, 2012

I actually like beef topside a lot. It also helps that it's a bit cheaper than the other, more fatty cuts of beef. However, I've found that my slow cooker works really well for cuts of beef like this.

What I usually do is brown the beef in a skillet first, then throw it in the slow cooker on low for around 10 hours. Sometimes I add a little bit of water or stock to the slow cooker too. Occasionally I'll add some red wine also. The beef topside usually turns out fairly tender when cooked like this.

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