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Elkhorn Meat Solutions

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Primal cuts:

Have you ever stood in the meat aisle at the supermarket, wondering about the difference in the various cuts of beef? You are not alone. In fact, some people may prove reluctant to try different cuts of beef because they aren’t sure exactly how to use them or what they taste like. Here is a guide to beef cuts to help you have an even better understanding as a consumer and cook.


Learning about beef cuts helps you make more informed cooking and eating choices. Not only will you know where each cut of meat comes from, but you will understand why some cuts are more tender than others. You can order the right cut for the meals you want to make.


There are eight primal cuts of beef, along with numerous sub-primal cuts. While the eight primal cuts are standard, the names of sub-cuts may vary depending on region and even the individual butcher. Food service cuts may differ from that of butcher cuts.


It’s helpful to understand where these sub primal cuts come from to better understand why some cuts are more or less tender than others.  We discuss the more familiar secondary & sub-primal beef cuts for each primal cut.

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The beef chuck cut comes from the animal’s upper shoulder and lower neck. Steaks and roasts come from this area. Because the shape of the shoulder bone looks like a seven, chuck steaks are known as 7-bone steaks. Chuck roasts are somewhat fattier than cuts from other parts of the body.


The shoulder is among the most muscular parts of the steer, as it plays a key role in movement. That also means the meat is somewhat tough, with lots of connective tissue. It is, however, full of flavor.

  • Chuck Arm Roast 

  • Chuck Eye Steak Chuck Eye Roast

  • Chuck Ribs Chuck Short Ribs

  • Chuck Roast 

  • Clod Roast

  • Country-style

  • Cross Rib Roast,

  • English Roast Denver Cut,

  • Flat Iron 

  • Medallions

  • Mock Tender Steak

  • Petite Chuck

  • Ranch Steak

  • Shoulder

  • Shoulder Center Steak,

  • Shoulder Tender

  • Sierra Cut

  • Tender Roast

  • Top Blade Steak 

  • Underblade steak

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Everyone has their favorite beef cuts, and for many, ribs meat is number one. It’s also among the most affordable cuts. They cost less than the beef cuts to which they are adjacent. Beef ribs have plenty of fat for taste, but also contain connective tissue. That means some tenderizing is needed before cooking.


Cattle have 13 ribs on each side of their bodies, running from the breastbone to that last rib. There are three types of beef ribs. The plate short ribs are usually referred to as beef short ribs. Then there are the chuck short ribs and the back ribs.


Back ribs, located near the top of the animal as the name implies, have less meat than the other types. Chuck short ribs and plate short ribs are found near the steer’s stomach.

There’s no question that grilling is one of the things rib meat is good for. While pork ribs are more popular, beef ribs have much more meat on the bone. Steers are considerably larger than hogs, so beef ribs are much larger than the pork variety.


The plate short rib is huge, the so-called “brisket on a stick.” One bone may weigh 2 pounds or more. They resemble brisket in another way. With similar fat content, cooking them slowly at low temperature helps prevent the meat from drying. This is rib meat for the smoker.


Chuck short ribs are between three and six inches long, with meat on the top of the bone.  They consist of the first through the fifth rib. Marinate them before grilling. A smoker is another option.


The back ribs are cut from the area behind the shoulder. That is where the prime rib is located, and that is among the most expensive cuts. The meat is cut so that the bulk of the meat stays with the prime rib. Back ribs have little meat on the top, so most of it is on the side. They are ideal for grilling or braising.

  • Back Ribs

  • Chef Cut Ribeye 

  • Filet of Rib 

  • Prime Rib, Ribeye Roast

  • Rib Satay

  • Rib Steak

  • Ribeye Roast 

  • Ribeye Steak,

  • Short Ribs 

  • Tomahawk Steak

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Of the eight primary cuts of beef, no other offers as much variety as the loins. These are also among the most expensive cuts of beef, but well worth the extra money.


Loin beef cuts come from the area beneath the backbone. Loin beef cuts are among the tenderest, juiciest, and most flavorful. Unlike cuts from other parts of the body, the loin has little to do with the steer’s movement or weight carriage. That means it doesn’t have as much connective tissue, which makes meat tougher.

The loin consists of the sirloin, short loin, and tenderloin.

  • Ball Tip Roast

  • Ball Tip Steak

  • Bone-in Strip Steak

  • Bottom Sirloin Flap 

  • Center cut Sirloin Steak

  • Coulotte Stek

  • Filet Mignon

  • Filet of Sirloin

  • Filet of Strip

  • Hanger Steak

  • Porterhouse Steak

  • Sirloin Steak

  • Sirloin Steak

  • Strip Roast

  • T-bone Steak

  • Tenderloin Roast

  • Tir-tip Roast

  • Tri-tip Steak

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While the round beef cut is most often used for ground beef, that’s far from its only function. It is one of the eight primal cuts of beef, and several well-known sub-cuts come from this rear section of the animal.


The round beef cut comes from the steer’s hind legs, thigh, butt, and hams. These are the largest muscles in the body. It is a less expensive beef cut and also quite lean. Round beef cuts provide some of the best value for family meals.

  • Bottom Round London Broil

  • Bottom Round Roast

  • Bottom Round Steak

  • Butterfly Top Round Steak

  • Eye of Round Roast

  • Eye of Round Steak

  • Round Petite Tender Steaks

  • Rump Roast

  • Sirloin Tip Center Roast

  • Sirloin Tip Center Steak

  • Sirloin Tip Roast

  • Sirloin Tip Side Steak

  • Top Round London Broil

  • Top Round Roast

  • Top Round Steak

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If you’re in search of a good, all-purpose cut of beef, look no further than the flank meat cut. It’s fine for grilling, broiling, sautéing, or roasting. Another plus: Flank is an inexpensive, boneless cut with lots of beefy flavor.

Flank meat comes from the animal’s abdomen, below the loin and sirloin. This primal cut is long and flat. The area contains a lot of muscle, used when the steer walks, so flank meat can prove tough if not marinated or cooked properly.


Flank meat is quite lean. If there is fat on the cut, that is an indication it was not trimmed correctly. This lack of fat means some tenderizing is needed. Because it is so thin, it absorbs marinade exceptionally well. Too many consumers overlook this versatile cut because it is so thin.


It is sometimes referred to as “jiffy steak” due to its quick grilling time. In France, it is known as Bavette steak.


Unlike other primal beef cuts, flank meat is not divided into smaller cuts, but cooked whole. When carving, slice flank meat thinly, against the grain.


Due to its thin cut and cheap price, flank meat is frequently overlooked as a good steak source. However, it is the cut used for London broil. The difference between flank steak and London broil lies in the cooking. The former is cooked whole, while the latter is cut into large sections prior to cooking.


While flank steak is similar to skirt steak, there are differences. Flank meat cuts are flatter and have more muscle fibers in them.  One simple way to tell the difference is by color. Flank steak is a much brighter red than skirt steak. That’s due to the large amount of blood flowing to this section of the anatomy.


Besides London broil, flank steak is a good choice for fajitas, Moo Shu beef, beef tacos, and steak wraps. Many Asian beef recipes call for this cut. Steak jerky is often made from the flank meat cut.

If you have leftovers, thin slices make great steak sandwiches, whether served hot or cold.

  • Flank Steak

  • Flap

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Short plate:

The short plate beef cut comes from the cow’s belly. Although ribs figure prominently in this cut, they come from the stomach area rather than near the spine.  The short plate beef cut is economical but quite tasty. It’s a cut with a high fat content.


Why is this cut called a short plate? It received this name because the cut does not include the brisket.

The short plate beef cut consists of the inside skirt steak, hanger steak, and short ribs. Another term for the inside skirt steak is the outside skirt steak, but they are not truly synonymous. Both are cut from the diaphragm. The outside skirt steak is preferable as it is more tender, but both cuts are full of flavor.

Perhaps they are most frequently just called “ribs.” Short ribs are either with or without bone.

The hanger steak is somewhat thicker but more tender than skirt steak. In fact, hanging tender is another name for it. Hanger steak is not often found outside of restaurants, and that’s a shame because it is so flavorful. Unlike other cuts, there is just one hanger steak per cow, so they are harder to come by.

  • Barbecue ribs

  • Chuck short ribs

  • English short ribs

  • Fancy cut ribs

  • Plate short ribs

  • Skirt Steak

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The shank meat cut is among the cheaper cuts of beef, but that doesn’t mean it can’t make delicious and nutritious meals.


Located beneath the brisket, shank meat is cut from the leg above the knee to the shoulder or hip. The former is the cut for the forelegs and the latter for the hind legs. Because this area is full of connective tissue, the meat is quite tough.


The shank is a small cut compared to the other primal cuts. The shank cross cut is the only real cut, but it goes by different names. These include the beef fore shank and the beef Osso Bucco cut.


Shank meat is generally cut horizontally in thin slices. The cut resembles a steak with a leg bone circle.


Because shank meat is quite lean, it makes good low-fat ground beef. It is used in stews and soups and dishes such as beef bourguignon. As a cheaper cut of meat, shank meat cut is found in cultural recipes across the globe. In Asia, it has long been a popular cut.


The Italian dish Osso Bucco translates to “bone with a hole.” That describes the shank meat cut. The dish is stewed in wine, carrots, onions, tomatoes, and chopped celery. Garnish with the gremolata, a combination of parsley, garlic, and orange peel.

  • Cross cut shank

  • Cajun beef gumbo

  • Rustic beef soup

  • Best beef pho

  • Hungarian goulash

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Think of the brisket cut as a roast cut with the fat on the outside. It’s a great choice when you are feeding a lot of folks.


The brisket meat cut is one of the eight primary cuts of beef. It comes from the steer’s breast, specifically from the area beneath the first five ribs and below the shoulder. Each animal has two briskets.


The brisket cut includes the pectoral muscles, so it contains a fair amount of connective tissue. That fact dictates cooking methods.


There are two brisket cuts. The point cut, also known as the deckle cut, is the fatty part of the brisket. The flat cut has had the deckle removed. Also known as the first cut, this brisket cut is leaner. It lies flat for cooking, hence the name.


Brisket is not an expensive cut. It is, however, a healthy one. Since brisket has a lot of connective tissue, that means it contains a lot of collagen, the most abundant protein in the body. Collagen is necessary for joint health and firm skin.

  • Beef Brisket

  • Brisket Flat

  • Brisket Point

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