All beef cuts are not the same. When you buy your beef from a local farmer, a butcher will cut it up differently than when you buy it at the grocery store. There are many reasons for this, and the primary one is beef sold in mass quantities to a grocery store is used differently. Much of the waste is used for other products. If you are a newcomer to the country and take your beef to the same place the locals do, you might only recognize the hamburger when you get it back. Rural butchers cut up a beef to minimize waste. As a result, the cuts look different. It is important to educate yourself on the variety of cuts available to you, and what you prefer.
As an example, I wanted flank steak from my first cow but had no idea there is only one flank in the entire animal! This was devastating, but have since learned to use other cuts, such as sirloin in place of flank when necessary. Another eye opener for me was hamburger. The old timers often had filler put in their hamburger meat to make it juicier since the farmer or ranchers home-grown meat was historically grass finished. Ironically, we do not want the fat now. The first beef I received had so much fat in it, I could hardly believe it was the same animal I delivered for butchering. It turns out they added filler automatically, thinking they were doing the right thing. Develop a good relationship with the butcher. I’ve also found butchers who keep a card specifying each customers preferences on site generally have the best results. This minimizes confusion. The confusion not only exists between you and the butcher but between you and your spouse as well , not to mention, your own memory year after year. That is assuming you’ll be making a habit of this!
Here’s a chart of the traditional cuts of beef. You already know how important it is to know where your food comes from…it’s also good to know what part of the animal it comes from as well. I will be writing a lot more about organic and free range animal production over coming weeks. You will be an expert if you hang around.
Here’s a chart of primal beef cuts – this is how you’ll get it from the butcher if it’s grass finished, or purchased directly from your local farmer or rancher: