KNOW YOUR MEAT CUTS – BEEF PRIMAL CUTS?
What is a primal cut?
Primal Cut refers to the first piece of meat to be separated from the carcass of an animal during the butchering process. That is why it is called “Primal Cut”.
These large primal cuts are divided into smaller sub-primal cuts that are shipped for final cutting and preparation. These final cuts are known as portion cuts, and are the cuts of meat that you know as steaks, ribs and roasts.
The 8 Primal Cuts of Beef
Chuck comes from the cow’s shoulder. It’s a very flavourful region that can be cut and prepared in many ways, but it’s also typically a firmer cut of beef.
Location: Chuck primal cut is located at the front chest and top of a cow including shoulder and neck parts.
Sub-primal cuts: Neck, shoulders, top blade, bottom blade, ground beef, chuck steak, chuck filet.
As the name implies, the rib primal cut refers to meat cut from the cow’s ribs and backbone. Of the 13 pairs of ribs on a cow, only the last six are classified in this section – the rest are grouped with chuck and short plate! Rib cuts are notable for their fatty marbling, tenderness, and distinctive flavor.
Location: The ribs are located in the centre back of the cow. The rib is quite a flavourful part of the cow.
Sub-primal cuts: Rib steak, ribeye steak, prime rib, short rib, back ribs.
The loin is located directly behind the ribs and, due to its location, is not a heavily used muscle. This makes loin very tender compared to more muscular cuts. The loin primal cut comprises two parts worth mentioning: sirloin and short loin.
Location: It is located in the lower back of the cow. This part of the meat is very soft and tender, that’s why loin cuts are great for juicy steaks.
Sub-primal cuts: T-bone, club steak, filet mignon (tenderloin), New York strip, sirloin cap, sirloin steak, tri-tip, Chateaubriand, Porterhouse.
Due to the leanness of this cut, it’s important to thoroughly research how to prepare and cook the individual portion cuts of this primal region; sometimes it calls for high heat cooking (like top, bottom and eye round portion cuts), or slow-cooking (like rump and eye roast).
Location: It is located in the rear part of the cow, the butt. Round cut contains a lot less fat content so this makes the round meat a tough cut.
Sub-primal cuts: Top Round, Eye of Round, Heel of Round, Sirloin Tip and
The flank primal cut is located just below the loin. This region has no bones, but is flavourful despite its toughness. As recent demand for lean meat has increased, so did the demand for flank steak – driving its popularity
Location: This primal meat cut is from the belly - underside part of the cow.
Sub-primal cuts: Ground Beef, London Broil, and Flank Steak.
Often grouped with the brisket beef region, short plate cuts are found near the stomach of the cow. Its location in the cow lends to cheap, tough and fatty cuts of beef. This is also where you’ll find your other source of marbled short ribs.
Location: Short plate cut is located below the rib cut, in other words, the centre belly of the cow.
Sub-primal cuts: Hanger Steak, Ground Beef, Brisket, Skirt Steak.
Shank is arguably the toughest cut of beef. Located in front of the brisket at the cow’s forearm, this beef cut is notable for its sinewy dryness. Because of its dry nature, it’s best cooked for a long time in moist heat.
Location: It’s in the lower abdomen, the chest part of the cow. Due to the muscles, it's quite tough meat.
Sub-primal cuts: Fore Shank, Hind Shank, and Ground Beef.
A barbecue favourite, the brisket cut belongs to a cow’s breast. Brisket is known for its fatty, tough texture, but if prepared correctly (long and slow) it can be cooked to melt-in-your-mouth perfection. Always tenderise and marinate this cut before slow cooking to soften it up.
Location: It’s located at the cow’s breast, the lower chest area. Brisket cut is low in fat content, it’s one of the cow’s most used muscles.
Sub-primal cuts: Brisket Point and Brisket Plate.
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