Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Every week I have sent to my mail box a tasty little teaser from Lobel's of New York. If you have not heard of Lobel's it is consistently ranked as the best butcher shop in the US. Additionally, they have a very good mail order service. While I would like to buy something from them I would need to take out a second mortgage to afford it.

The point of all this is Alton Brown probably does the best job of explaining cuts of beef and how to cook them of any TV Chef. Seriously, who would you trust with your beef buying decisions? A guy standing next to another man in a cow costume or someone who has a smile like this?

I hope that Food Network has a dermatologist on retainer with all the Botox they must go through.

So today in my email I got a great break down of all the different cuts of beef. Given last week's London Broil post this seem like a natural follow-up.

So here it goes courtesy of Lobel's of New York:

"At one time or another, you may have heard someone say, “I don’t know ____, but I know what I like.” Fill in the blank with the noun of your choosing—art, music, cars, fashion, anything.

Ok, how about inserting “meat?”

Casual carnivores may be able to get their favorite cut in their favorite restaurant. But, put that same person in a restaurant in another region of the country or in an ethnic restaurant or market, and he or she could be lost for words—literally.

No doubt about it—the nomenclature of food can be confusing.

When it comes to deciphering the various names for cuts of meat, well it’s almost as challenging as giving job instructions to the workers building the Tower of Babel.

Common Problems in Meat Lexicon

  • There are the seeming inconsistencies in names of certain cuts. For example, pork butt is cut from the shoulder. (It’s the rear portion when a whole shoulder is subdivided.)
  • Regional variations mix with trade names and anatomical references. For example, a New York strip, shell steak, Kansas City strip, and top-loin steak all refer to the same cut.
  • In addition, butchers in different countries have different techniques for breaking down an animal carcass into retail cuts. And so, a cut that may be common in France or England, for example, may not have an exact counterpart in U.S. butcher shops and supermarkets.
  • And then you may run into variants of the same cut in ethnic markets and restaurants in the U.S. For example:
    • What’s called skirt steak in the U.S. is bavette in France and churrasco in Argentina.
    • In France, a cote de boeuf is a double-thick, bone-in rib steak with a single rib bone attached. In the U.S., take the same steak and french the rib bone, and you’ve got a cowboy steak.

So What's a Meat-Lover to Do?

In the midst of all this, how do you become a more knowledgeable consumer of meat and the cuts that best satisfy your tastes?

Cuts of Beef
1. Chuck
2. Flanken Ribs
3. Rib
4. Back Ribs
5. Short Loin
6. Tenderloin
7. Porterhouse
8. Sirloin
9. Round
10. Rump Roast
11. Round Steak
12. Hind Steak
13. Flank
14. Flank Steak Rolls
15. Short Plate
16. Brisket
17. Fore Shank

A good place to start is Lobel’s Guide to Meat where you’ll find specific names for various cuts, as well as some of the common variations for specific cuts.

Another way to keep from getting distracted by the differences of names and labels is to recognize the similarities among various cuts, based on a couple fundamentals of mammalian anatomy.

The anatomical layout of beef cattle, veal calves, lambs, and pigs isn’t very different. Basically, each type of animal has a fore quarter (front end) and a hind quarter (back end).

By far, the most popular, tender, and premium cuts of any type of meat come from what’s known as “the middles.” Together that’s the rib and the loin—the back part of the fore quarter and the front part of the hind quarter.

Recognizing the Different Cuts

The same cuts that are called steaks in beef are called chops in lamb, veal, and pork.

Take a look at bone-in rib steaks and chops—they differ in size, but not much in shape, no matter whether it's beef, veal, lamb, or pork.

Bone-In Rib SteakLamb Rib Chops

Veal Rib ChopsPork Rib Chops

Similarly, what’s called a Porterhouse steak in beef is a Porterhouse veal chop or a loin lamb chop.

This cut comes from the loin or short loin and has two parts: the filet (round portion) and the loin (long portion), separated by a T-shaped bone. Separate meat from bone in a beef steak, and you’ve got a filet mignon and a strip steak.

Notice the similarities among beef, veal, and lamb.

USDA Prime Porterhouse SteakVeal Porterhouse

Lamb Loin Chops

How can you experience all these cuts?

We've put together new sampler packages of these cuts, which will be available for a short time. Three sizes of packages range in servings from a sampler for 2 to 4 adults, to enough to take your favorite group of friends on a taste extravaganza.

Try the Porterhouse Samplers, which include USDA Prime Porterhouse Steaks, Veal Porterhouse Chops, and All-Natural Lamb Loin Chops.

Or try the Bone-In Rib Steak Samplers, which include USDA Prime Bone-In Rib Steaks, Veal Rib Chops, and All-Natural Lamb Rib Chops.

For your dining pleasure,
The Lobel Family


Sunny said...

Jiminy crickets... Lobel's is definitely pricey. But nice to know about, since the nearest full-service butcher shop to my middle-of-nowhere homestead is over an hour away!

Nice breakdown of meat cuts, btw. It can get really confusing, even to foodie types... I learned most of what I know from working (as a bartender, not a cook) at a steak house... and even that's not always spot-on (at least according to Alton!)

T.W. Barritt said...

This is really helpful information. I've walked past Lobel's a number of times. It's right around the corner from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It really looks like a classic old time butcher shop. The cuts of meat are beautiful to look at, but I've never bought anything as I don't prepare beef that often.