To help you bone up on which cut is which and when each should be used, we put together a primer on the different cuts available in the most common types of meat. In part 1, we covered some of the most common and inexpensive cuts of beef including chuck, brisket, short plate, flank, and round. In part 2, we will cover the remaining cuts of beef and poultry.
The sirloin cuts come from the back of the cow and include sirloin, top sirloin, and tri-top. Filled with flavor, these cuts can be broiled, grilled, pan-fried, or pan-broiled. The different cuts are often named for the bone they contain. These include flat bone, round bone, wedge, and pin. Sirloin can also be a great meat to use with many different marinades.
With cuts like t-bone, porterhouse, and filet mignon, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the short loin is the most popular cut. These cuts all come from the back of the cow and can be found just past the ribs. Perfect for grilling, broiling, pan-broiling, pan-frying, roasting, or pan-searing, these cuts are tender, flavorful, and top of the line. Other cuts that come from this part of the cow include the New York strip, top loin, and tenderloin.
The ribs of the cow are full of the delicious marbled fat that makes these cuts of beef so tender and flavorful. The rib cuts include rib roast, rib steak, rib eye steak, rib eye roast, back ribs. The best way to cook these cuts depends on the specific cut. For rib-eye steaks and similar small cuts, pan-frying and grilling work best. For larger cuts like a rib eye roast, roasting is best. For short ribs, braising is the best approach.
There are a bunch of other cuts that you can find at your local butcher shop but that you may not have ever used. These include things like the tongue, liver, and heart. Popular in many ethnic dishes, these cuts are best when cooked in the manner most suited to the specific cut. For example, tongue is generally boiled and liver can be baked, boiled, broiled, or fried.
Poultry is generally sold in a variety of cuts. The different cuts are outlined below. With the exception of a whole bird, which is generally roasted, most poultry can be cooked in a variety of ways including baked, boiled, sautéed, grilled, and roasted.
- Poultry may be sold as a whole bird, like a turkey at Thanksgiving.
- Half poultry cuts include one breast, one thigh, one drumstick, and the back portion.
- A breast quarter cut includes a wing, a half breast, and some of the back and includes only white meat
- A leg quarter cut includes a thigh, a drumstick, and a portion of the back.
- An 8 piece cut, which is also called a whole-cut up bird, includes 2 breast halves including the back portion, 2 wings, 2 thighs with the back portion, and 2 drumsticks. Most poultry sold this way does not include the giblets.
- A whole wing has three parts which are all white meat: the drumette, the mid-section, and the tip.
- All three sections can also be sold as separate cuts.
- The drumette is the portion of the wing between the shoulder and elbow joints.
- The mid-section is the portion from the elbow to the tip.
- The tip isn’t sold alone but is paired with the mid-section for a third option.
- The whole leg cut is made up of the drumstick and thigh, the whole leg cut is differentiated from the leg quarter by the exclusion of the back portion.
- The thigh can be bone-in or boneless and may or may not include skin. It is comprised of the portion of the leg above the knee.
- The drumstick includes the entire lower portion of the leg quarter from the knee to the hock.
- A split-breast is a breast quarter without the wing.
- A boneless Breast is a split-breast that has had the skin and bones removed.
- Tenders – Any slice of breast meat.