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Ardent Beef Lover? Here’s a Breakdown of 8 Primal Beef Cuts for Exceptional Dining Experience

Ardent Beef Lover? Here’s a Breakdown of 8 Primal Beef Cuts for Exceptional Dining Experience

Ardent Beef Lover? Here’s a Breakdown of 8 Primal Beef Cuts for Exceptional Dining Experience

Understanding the different cuts of beef and how best to cook those different cuts is paramount to making delicious meals that are properly priced, and effectively worked into your monthly operating budget. Which cuts are most suitable for your most popular dishes and from which restaurant suppliers Toronto to buy from? Got a good selling regular dish but you’ve run out of that cut? Well, what other cut can you substitute without sacrificing the overall quality of the meal?

Part of the confusion is because grocery store butchers will use ‘creative license’ when naming the different cuts that they package and sell. One study revealed that an area of stores can display up to 60  ‘different’ cuts. In actuality, there are 8 major regions of a cow that comprise the main cuts, or the primal cuts. Learning their optimum usage and best cooking methods will keep you suitably armed to achieve maximum taste and ideal economy.

The 8 Primal Cuts


If you take a moment to look at the illustration, you can see that all the most expensive cuts are from the top middle of the steer, the RIB and the LOIN sections. This area is farthest away from the hardest working muscles - the neck and legs. All the lower sections are not as tender and subsequently, less expensive. However there’s an awful lot of good taste to be wrangled from those lower sections, so don’t give them short thrift.

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Chuck comes from the steer’s shoulder, which they use a lot, so it’s a tougher cut of beef and it’s lean. But it’s also very flavourful. Ideal for ground chuck hamburger, chuck pot roast, blade roast, chuck short ribs and stew meat. Chuck gives you flavour and economy.


The brisket is the steer’s breast, which is both fastty and tough. But the key to brisket is the preparation. Giving it a marinade or rub and then cooking it at low heat and slowly will unlock the flavour and makes it melt-in-your-mouth good. Brisket is primarily used for barbecue, corned beef or pastrami.


Coming from the cow’s ribs and backbone, but only the rib section 6-12 are within the primal section of the ribs. As such, they are very flavourful and well marbled. You find premium portions from here - ribeye steaks, ribeye roasts, beef short ribs and Delmonico steaks.


Basically the steer’s underbelly, the short plate runs from the front to the back legs. Although it is tough, it is also extremely rich in flavor because of its location on top of the side rib bones and it’s generous layers of fat. Common dishes from here include short ribs, fajitas, and Philly steak.


At the top of the steer, the loin region is a large muscle that gets little work. It is very tender. The loin has two sections - the shortloin and the sirloin, from which we get all the popular, expensive cuts. From the shortloin comes filet mignon, tenderloin steak and t-bone and porterhouse steaks. The sirloin, while a tad less tender, packs more flavour. It will yield all the sirloin steaks and roasts as well as the tri-tip steaks and roasts.


Located at the steer’s rump and back legs, the round is a lean, inexpensive and perhaps a bit tough. The round is often ground beef, but also round steaks, eye of the round, and top and bottom round roasts. Slow cooking is the key for pot roasts and stews.


Below the loin, the flank is boneless and very flavourful, but also very tough. Flank is also very lean, which has increased its popularity, and its price,  over the last few diet-conscious years.


Behind the brisket, at the top of the front legs is the shank. This inexpensive cut is cheap because it is very tough. Give it the slow cook treatment and a bit of culinary know-how and shank can be a regular, tasty profit source.

What To Look For when Buying Beef

  • beef should always be cold - from butcher to your shopping cart
  • the colour should be bright red – purplish red. Avoid beef with brown spots.
  • with the more expensive cuts you should see a consistent and evenly spread marbling
  • check the ‘best before date’. If it’s close or recently past, cook it soon.
  • the fresher the beef, the less moisture in the package
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