The Butcher’s Guide: Cuts of Meat
Chuck - Chuck comes from the front of the cow, above the brisket. It is filled with connective tissues, which add a strong flavor. It can be grilled or braised, but it’s best when turned into ground beef.
Rib - Rib is considered one of the better cuts of beef because of its succulence and marbling. The meat is carved up further into prime rib, short ribs, rib eye steaks, etc. It is best cooked over dry heat, such as in a barbecue.
Short loin - This cut of beef is sectioned into smaller pieces to create T-bone steak and Porterhouse steaks. It is best cooked over dry heat, such as on a grill.
Sirloin - Sirloin is right above the tenderloin and is boneless. It’s a versatile cut that can be slow-cooked or put on a grill.
Round - Round comes from the rump. It is lean meat, which makes it a little tougher to chew. Braising brings out its best flavor profile.
Brisket - Brisket comes from the cow’s lower chest. It is tough and best cooked slowly by smoking or braising.
Shank - The shank is from the animal’s legs. Since a cow’s legs are very strong from carrying its own weight, it’s one of the toughest cuts of meat. It’s almost too tough to eat as a main course, so it’s better when cooked in a stew or soup.
Plate - Plate comes from the front of the belly, underneath the ribs. It’s fatty and tough. Great for grilling.
Flank - Flank contains the belly muscles and is usually braised or used in soups and stews.
Boston butt and picnic ham - These are cuts of the shoulder and arm. They are mainly used for pork roast and different barbecuing recipes. These cuts are also used to make ground pork.
Loin - The loin is cut up into tenderloin, back ribs, rack of ribs, and pork chops. It can also be cured to make Canadian bacon.
Back fat - Aka fat back, this cut is used to make pork rinds and lard. Pork rind is the culinary term for edible pig skin.
Spare ribs - This cut includes the ribs and surrounding meat. It is very fatty and usually barbecued.
Bacon - The most important cut—BACON!
Legs or ham - Only the back legs are officially called ham.
Hock - This is where pork knuckle comes from.
Breast - Chicken breast is probably THE MOST VERSATILE cut of meat out of all the animals. It’s white meat and can be cooked in many different ways, including grilled, pan-fried, oven-roasted, baked, or poached.
Neck - Neck is normally used for making gravy.
Thigh - Thigh meat is brown and has a bit more flavor than breast meat.
Drumsticks - The name is self-explanatory — it’s where you get drumsticks from!
Wing - The wing contains white meat and is used for hot wings and buffalo wings.
Head - The head is normally used for making soups.
Kama - Aka fish collar, Kama is a tender and rich cut of fish.
Back, abdomen, tail - These central, primary body parts of the fish contain the most meat. They are used for fish fillet, roasted fish, and fried fish.
Caviar - Caviar is the part of the fish where the eggs are located. The eggs are usually salted and cured.
Tail - Fish tail is typically just fried and eaten, or used in stocks along with the head.
Carapax - Carapax (or carapace) is the armor-like body of the crustacean.
Claws - Lobster claws are full of sweet and tender meat.
Tail - Lobster tail holds the biggest chunk of meat.
Jumbo lump - The jumbo lumps are the two large muscles connected to the crab’s swimming fins. They are bright white in color and taste exquisite.
White lump - White lump is a mix of jumbo lump and the rest of the crab meat. It is commonly used in crab cakes, dips, salads, and casseroles.
Claw - The claws contain brown meat that has a stronger flavor than the rest of the crab.
Shrimp are usually served whole, but you may choose to remove the heads and/or tails before cooking or plating.