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What are the primal cuts of beef?

Chuck, brisket and shank, rib, short plate, short loin, sirloin, flank, and round.



A primal cut of beef that comes from the shoulder of a cow. It is tough because of the constant use of the shoulder muscle.


Brisket and Shank

Located beneath the primal chuck on the front half of the carcass. The brisket is the breast and the foreshank is the arm, which contains the shank bone.



Accounts for 10% of the carcass weight. Consists of ribs 6-12 as well as a portion of the backbone. The center portion (the eye) of the meat is very tender because the muscle is not well exercised.


Prime Rib

Not named after the USDA grade. It is called prime because it takes up the majority of the primal cut.


Short Plate

Located directly below the primal rib on a side of beef. 9% of carcass weight. Contains rib bones and cartilage and produces the short ribs and skirt steak.


Short loin

The front (anterior) portion of the beef loin. 8% of carcass weight. Produces the tenderloin, T-bone steaks, club steaks, and porterhouse steaks.



Located in the hindquarter, between the short loin and the round. It accounts for 7% of the carcass weight and contains part of the backbone as well a portion of the hip bone.



Located directly beneath the loin, posterior to (behind) the short plate. 6% of carcass weight. Contains no bones. Tasty but not very tender with a good deal of fat and connective tissue.


Hanger steak

comes from the flank. Also known as a bistro steak or butcher's steak. Gaining popularity. 8-10oz.



The primal round is very large. 24% of carcass weight. Comes from the hind legs and contains the round, aitch, shank, and tail bones.


Organ meats

A group of meats known as offal that includes the heart, kidney, liver, tongue, tripe (stomach lining) and oxtail.



Major source of protein, zinc, and B vitamins. High marbled meat has lots of saturated fats, but lean cuts have less fat than chicken thighs.


dry aged meat

decomposed meat. Scabs form where the animal was cut. The scabs mold and are cut off before cooked and served. Dry aged meat costs more because it airs out to age, so it loses size and weight because of moisture that evaporates.


wet-aged meat

meat that still has the blood in it.