The American Meat Cuts
There is a lot more to delicious cooking than sound technical knowledge. Knowing your ingredients is just as key. One of the most important ingredients that can affect your cooking a dish with meat is, well, the meat. Knowing the different cuts and how to cook them can mean the difference between a juicy, tender roast or an overdone, dry steak.
The Meat Cuts
Cuts are broken down into primal cuts, subprimal cuts and then retail (also known as portion or fabricated cuts). Primal cuts are the big chunks of an animal (indicated by the butchery drawings) that make up the various sections of an animal. Retail cuts are the roasts or steaks you buy at the store and take home to cook. Subprimal cuts fit in between primal and retail – I don’t talk much about subprimal cuts as they are rarely encountered in every day use (although a few do make their way on the charts).
Knowing both the primal cuts and retail cuts of meat can come in handy for many reasons. Most importantly, knowing both will help you cook meat properly – there are some cuts you never want to cook for a long time while there are others that are nearly inedible if you don’t let it simmer away for half a day. Knowing how lean or fatty a cut is will tell you just how flavorful that cut is as well (fat = flavor). You’ll also learn which cuts have the bone left in, another chance to boost the flavor in the cut or to leave you with a bag of bones at the end of the month to turn into a stock. And lastly you can see which cuts come as a roast, steak or ribs – did you know the tenderloin roast and filet minon steaks are the same piece of meat (indicated as the tenderloin on the chart)? So next time you plan to grill up some filet minon for the family, buy a tenderloin and cut the steaks yourself; you’ll save yourself a little money since your butcher isn’t doing the work.
For more information on meat cuts check out the original post: Kitchen 101: Meat Cuts.