Prime Meat Cuts
The rib section, located just behind the shoulder or chuck, is not a well exercised part of
the animal. That means it is tender and well-marbled. The rib produces rib roast, rib eye roast, rib steaks, rib eye steaks, and back ribs.
The short loin, located just behind the ribs, produces the most tender cuts of beef. Some
of the short loin cuts are not only tender but also low in fat. Most of these cuts benefit
from dry cooking methods. These cuts include top
loin and tenderloin steaks, filet mignon, T-bone steak, Porterhouse steak, top loin roast, and tenderloin roast.
The sirloin comes from the mid part of the hindquarters and contains parts of both the
backbone and the hip bone. Sirloin cuts are flavorful, tender, and lean—though perhaps
just a notch less tender than short loin cuts. Cuts from the sirloin include tri-tip roast and a variety of steaks including sirloin flat bone, sirloin round bone, and sirloin pin bone. All respond well to dry-heat cooking
The round is a large cut that encompasses the entire rear leg of the animal and includes
the shank and tailbone. It is named after the round bone of the femur. This is a hard-working
part of the animal, but thanks to the configuration of the muscles, meat from the round is
more tender than meat from the front leg. Cuts from the round are also quite lean. They
include round steak, eye of round, top round, and round tip, as well as rump roast and Pikes Peak roast.
Chuck comes from the shoulder of the animal and includes some of the backbone, rib, blade,
and arm bones. This is a heavily exercised part of the animal, so the meat tends to be tough,
and it contains a good deal of connective tissue. On the other hand, it is also extremely
flavorful. Chuck cuts become tender with long cooking at moderate heat and also benefit from
marinating or tenderizing. Retail chuck cuts include chuck eye roast, top blade steak, arm pot roast, shoulder pot roast, cross-rib roast, chuck steak, stew meat, and ground chuck.
Brisket and Shank
The brisket and shank lie beneath the primal chuck and encompass the breast and foreleg of
the animal. The brisket is tough and fatty and lends itself well to slow cooking in liquid.
This cooking method also works well for the shank, a flavorful cut. Since it is full of
collagen, which turns to gelatin when cooked, shank makes an excellent choice for broth and
soup. Brisket and shank cuts include whole
brisket, flat cut brisket, corned beef, and shank cross cut.
The short plate, located on the underside of the rib cage, produces meat that tends to be
tough and fatty. Cuts include skirt steak,
usually marinated and grilled as fajitas, and
short ribs, which make meaty barbecue fare.
Located in the rear underbelly of the carcass, the flank produces flavorful albeit tough
meat that contains plenty of connective tissue. Its boneless cut is known as flank steak.