What is Beef?
The word beef is from the Latin word bōs, in contrast to cow, which is from Middle
English "cou" (both words have the same Indo-European root gwou. Beef is the culinary
name for meat from bovines, especially cattle. Beef can be harvested from cows, bulls, heifers
or steers. Acceptability as a food source varies in different parts of the world. Beef is the third
most widely consumed meat in the world, accounting for about 25% of meat production
worldwide, after pork and poultry at 38% and 30% respectively. The world's largest exporters
of beef are Brazil, India, Australia and the United States.
What is Beef Cuts?
Beef Cuts are first divided into primal cuts, pieces of meat initially separated from the
carcass during butchering. These are basic sections from which steaks and other subdivisions
are cut. The term "primal cut" is quite different from "prime cut", used to characterize cuts
considered to be of higher quality. Since the animal's legs and neck muscles do the most
work, they are the toughest; the meat becomes tenderer as distance from hoof and
horn increases. Different countries and cuisines have different cuts and names, and
sometimes use the same name for a different cut. The French and English make 35
differentiations to the beef cuts, 51 cuts for the Body tribe, while the Koreans differentiate
beef cuts into a staggering 120 different parts.
Where it is on the cow: Basically all the shoulder right behind the neck.
What it is: Chuck's a value steak, but that doesn't mean it's not delicious when you get the right slab and have
it prepared properly. The chuck eye is like the rib eye's less well-to-do brother. The top blade's what you're
getting with a flat-iron steak. Pot roast is all chuck. The rest goes into burgers. You're a hell of a diverse guy.
Where it is: The lower breast, known on the human as the under-chest.
What it is: One of the most universally loved cuts around the world, it's a mainstay in pho and extremely
popular on the Korean BBQ menu. In Texas, it's pretty much the state animal.
Where it is: Toward the rear, right above the flank and behind the short loin.
What it is: For a while, this hunk of bottom sirloin was typically used for burgers. Then, in the '50s, some
dude in Cali decided that it would be better off as a grilled or smoked steak. He was right, and thus was born
the Santa Maria steak, which is pretty much all Californians eat (when they're not starving themselves).
Where it is: Right in the belly.
What it is: Most popularly used for the ultra-rare London broil and cut in chunks for stir-fry and carneasada,
the flank's like the skirt's tougher brother, and typically requires either a super-slow or super-fast cook in order
to become chewable.
Where it is: Right in the ribs.
What it is: Basically the best part of the prime rib section, rib eye's a cut that does not actually have an eyeball
inside. Instead, the eye refers to being cut from the center of the rib. As with prime rib, the layer of fat gives it an
extra-awesome juiciness. Get it boneless, or be a total badass and get a tomahawk chop with the full rib sticking
T-BONE & PORTERHOUSE
Where it is: The front end of the short loin, also known as the delicious part.
What it is: Two of the most prized cuts on the cow, they're being lumped together here because people usually have a
tough time telling them apart. Simply put, porterhouse steaks contain a larger portion of tenderloin. T-bones have
more strip steak, plus clout among 1950s gangs. Both are delicious.
Where it is: Right in the middle of the loin, in that magical place between the short loin, the sirloin, and the round.
What it is: The tenderest, leanest part of the cow. It is the source of the filet mignon.
Where it is: Right in the center. You know… in the ribs. The prime part.
What it is: Some call it a standing rib roast. Some a Sunday roast. But to the connoisseur of every single Friday-
Saturday special at every diner in America, it's prime rib, and it's glorious: a fatty, ultra-rare cut of deliciousness that
makes every bite taste like a holiday.
Where it is: Right along the front of the belly, underneath the rib.
What it is: A long, fatty cut from the diaphragm, this bad boy's usually what you're eating in a fajita or in a stir-
fry. You'll also find it served up on a skillet and cut against the grain to maximize tenderness.
Where it is: The short loin (middle of the back).
What it is: Some call it the New York strip (because the dude behind Delmonico's Restaurant claimed to have
invented it). Some call it a club steak. Some people eat it in New York clubs, which is super-confusing. Basically,
it's the thick side of a T-bone, and one of the most popular cuts in the world.
Where it is: The rear leg.
What it is: One of the toughest and leanest of all the cow's meats (apparently cows do a lot of time on the
Stairmaster between bouts of standing around all day), which makes it super-popular for jerky and stew, and in
health-conscious carnivores' lettuce wraps.
Where it is: Basically the small of the back, but with no Chinese-symbol tattoo.
What it is: Also known as the chateaubriand, this is the cut right below the tenderloin. It's also referred to as the
top butt. Snicker accordingly.