-FARM-FACT-FRIDAY- Primal Meat Cuts and What it Means For Cooking Methods
The USDA divides beef into eight main sections known as primal cuts. Primal cuts are the sections of meat that are initially cut from the carcass during butchering. They are:
The primal cuts are further broken down into subprimal cuts, which are the cuts you’re most familiar with. An example of a subprimal cut would be a ribeye steak, round roast, or ground chuck.
The location on the animal that the meat comes from greatly affects the tenderness of the cut, and therefore the cooking method.
Because meat is a muscle, the amount of use/exercise it received while the animal was alive directly relates to the tenderness or toughness of a particular cut.
A cut of meat that originates from a part of the animal that’s heavily used, such as the neck and legs, will be tougher than the lesser used muscles, primarily found in the mid-back.
A filet mignon is the most tender cut on an animal because it’s a small, lesser used muscle, whereas a roast that comes from the chuck or round section will be tougher because this muscle is used for walking or moving the head.
This is good to know for cooking purposes because the tougher cuts require a “low and slow” method of cooking to break down the muscle, while the tender cuts will just need a quick sear before they’re ready to enjoy.
Use this diagram to help visualize the different primal sections and see if you can figure out where your favorite beef cuts come from!