You should know the various cuts of beef if you want to be able to select and cook good beef dishes. You should know these cuts because the tenderness and toughness of the beef will depend on what part of the cow it comes from or if the animal muscle was used frequently or not.
You can ask your local butcher to explain to you how these cuts are made. It would be good to buy a beef cut chart and post it on your kitchen wall.
The main cuts are:
- Front area: chuck/shoulder;
- Rear area: round/hip;
- Upper center area: rib, short loin (further divided to tenderloin and top loin) and sirloin; and
- Underside: brisket/shank, plate, flank.
- Chuck Blade Roast can be easily recognized by the blade bone situated in its upper center, with small muscles attached to it. You can look for the rib bones and a portion of the backbone along the lower left part of the cut. Note the chuck blade roast may be served boneless in the supermarkets.
- Chuck Blade Steak looks like the blade roast, but is smaller – usually less than one inch thick. Its bone is commonly termed the “seven bone” because of its shape.
- Chuck Arm Roast is a thick roast with the large round bone in the center of the cut surrounded by many small muscles. Rib bones may show or not. If they do, you will see them at the bottom.
- Chuck Arm Steak is like the Chuck Arm Roast, varying only in thickness. There is also a round bone at the center of many small muscles.
- Square cut roast is from the lower corner of the beef chuck. You will know this cut by its square shape and portions of two or three ribs on the under side. There is a large amount of seam fat located between the muscles.
- Round Steak can be recognized by the round leg bone with three muscles attached to it. Three cuts may be further made from it, the top round, the bottom round, and the eye of the round.
- Beef Round Rump Roast is made from the boned, rolled, and tied rump.
- Top Round Steak is a boneless steak with a large muscle called the top or inside round. It is covered by fat on the curved top and left surface. There is a connective tissue along the bottom. Among the various round steaks, it is the most tender.
- Beef Bottom Round Steak contains two muscles: the eye of the round on the left and the bottom round on the right. There is a heavy layer of connective tissue dividing the muscles.
- Beef Round Eye Round Steak is a small circular boneless steak with fat layers on both sides.
- Beef Round Tip Roast is a rolled and tied roast identified by four individual muscles within one large muscle mass.
- Beef Round Tip Steak is cut from the tip roast. Like the roast, this steak is identified by four individual muscles within a large muscle mass.
- Beef Heel of Round is a cut immediately above the hock with many small muscle groups and plenty of seam fat.
- Beef Loin Top Loin Steak is cut from the last section of the beef loin which includes the 13th and final rib. Look for the large eye muscle, the rib bone, and portion of the backbone.
- T-bone steak has the famous “T” shaped vertebrae and the large eye muscle. Part of the T-bone steak, the large eye muscle, is called the Loin Top Steak when boneless.
- Beef Loin Tenderloin Steak is the small round muscle of about three inches in diameter located below the T-bone.
- Sirloin Steak. There are several cuts made from the sirloin area. The boneless Beef Loin Sirloin Steak is the best sirloin steak. It is made by de-boning the different kinds of sirloin steaks.
- The Beef Rib Roast, Small End contains several ribs, a portion of the backbone and one large muscle or the rib eye.
- Beef Rib Roast is made by removing the bones and tying the cut with a roll of string. The rib eye muscle runs through the center of the roast and is bound by smaller muscles.
- The Small and Large Ends of Beef Rib Steak have part of the ribs and the backbone. Steaks from the small end of the beef rib have the large rib eye muscle. Steaks from the large end also have one or more smaller muscles.
- Beef Rib Eye Steak is cut from the large end of the beef rib, with back and rib bones removed.
Flank and Plate
- Beef Flank Steak is the only steak from the cow carcass that contains a whole large muscle, with muscle fibers running through the full length of the steak.
- Brisket and Fore shank
- Beef Shank Cross Cut is recognized by a cross section of the arm bone and many tiny muscles, all bound by connective tissue.
- Beef Brisket is cut from the breast area, under the first five ribs. It is usually sold without the bone and is divided into two sections, the flat cut which has minimal fat, and the point cut.
- Short Ribs are small cubes with a portion of the rib bone and thin layers of muscles.