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Cuts of Beef in the United States

beef cut chart


Filet Mignon
Filet mignon - French for "cute fillet" or "dainty fillet", is a steak cut of beef taken from the smaller end of the tenderloin, or psoas major of the beef carcass, usually a steer or heifer. In French this cut can also be called filet de bœuf, which translates in English to beef filet. When found on a menu in France, filet mignon could also refer to pork rather than beef. The tenderloin (not to be confused with the short loin) runs along both sides of the spine, and usually is harvested as two long snake-shaped cuts of beef. The tenderloin sometimes is sold whole. When sliced along the short dimension, creating roughly round cuts, and tube cuts, the cuts (fillets) from the small forward end are considered to be filet mignon. Those from the center are tournedos, however, some butchers in the United States label all types of tenderloin steaks "filet mignon." In fact, the shape of the true filet mignon may be a hindrance when cooking, so most restaurants sell steaks from the wider end of the tenderloin - it is both cheaper and much more presentable. The tenderloin is the most tender cut of beef and is also arguably the most desirable and therefore the most expensive. The average steer or heifer provides no more than 1.8-2.8 Kg (4-6 pounds) of it. Because the muscle is not weight-bearing, it contains less connective tissue, which makes it tender. In the U.S., both the central and large end of the tenderloin often are sold as filet mignon in supermarkets and restaurants. The French terms for these cuts are tournedos (the smaller central portion), châteaubriand (the larger central portion), and biftek - cut from the large end known as the tête de filet in French. Porterhouse steaks and T-bone steaks are large cuts that include the fillet. The small medallion on one side of the bone is the fillet, and the long strip of meat on the other side of the bone is the strip steak—in Commonwealth of Nations usage, only the strip steak is called the porterhouse.

Strip Steaks
The strip steak is a type of cut of beef steaks. Internationally it is called a club steak. In the United States and Canada it is also known as New York strip, strip loin, shell steak, or Kansas City strip steak. In Australia it is known as a porterhouse steak or boneless sirloin. Cut from the short loin, the strip steak consists of a muscle that does little work, and so it is particularly tender, although not so tender as the nearby rib eye or tenderloin - the fat content of the strip is somewhere between these two cuts. Unlike the nearby tenderloin, the short loin is a sizable muscle, allowing it to be cut into the larger portions. When still attached to the bone, and with a piece of the tenderloin also included, the strip steak becomes a T-bone steak or a Porterhouse steak, the difference being that the Porterhouse has a larger portion of tenderloin included. The strip steak may be sold with or without the bone. Strip steaks may be substituted for most recipes calling for T-bone and porterhouse steaks, and sometimes for fillet and rib eye steaks. In 1837, Delmonico’s Restaurant opened in Manhattan. Self proclaimed as “America’s first fine dining restaurant,” one of its signature dishes was a cut from the short loin that was called a Delmonico steak. Due to its association with the city, it has since been referred to as a New York strip.

Top Sirloin
Top sirloin is a cut of meat from the primal loin, subprimal sirloin, of a beef carcass. Top sirloin steaks differ from sirloin steaks in that the bone and the tenderloin and bottom round muscles have been removed; the remaining major muscles are the gluteus medius and biceps femoris (top sirloin cap steak). Some American butchers call a thick top sirloin steak a chateaubriand, although the French reserve that term for a more premium cut from the tenderloin. The word comes from the Middle English surloine, which itself was derived from the Old French word surlonge, meaning sur la longe or above the loin. In Modern French, the term evolved to become aloyau or faux-filet. Top sirloin steak is usually served grilled, broiled, sautéed, or pan-fried. Alternatively, a top sirloin may be cut into slices thick enough to stand on their edge on the grill. In this case, the slices, typically seasoned only with coarse sea salt, are usually grilled with the thick layer of fat down until most of it melts away and the remaining fat becomes crispy. Each of the sides is then grilled for about ten seconds. The slices are then cut down the middle, each thus producing two slices only half as thick. The uncooked side of the new slices should then be grilled for a short time and are ready to be served.

Sirloins
The sirloin steak is a steak cut from the rear back portion of the animal, continuing off the short loin from which T-bone, porterhouse, and club steaks are cut. The sirloin is actually divided into several types of steak. The top sirloin is the most prized of these and is specifically marked for sale under that name. The bottom sirloin, which is less tender and much larger, is typically marked for sale simply as sirloin steak. The bottom sirloin in turn connects to the sirloin tip roast. The word comes from the Middle English surloine, which itself was derived from the Old French word surlonge, meaning sur la longe or above the loin. In Modern French, the term evolved to become aloyau or faux-filet. An often quoted false etymology suggests that sirloin comes from the knighting by an English king, with various kings being cited, of a piece of meat.

Ribeyes
The rib eye or ribeye (also known as Scotch fillet in Australia and New Zealand), is a beef steak from the rib section. The rib section of beef spans from ribs six through twelve. Ribeye steaks are mostly composed of the Longissimus dorsi muscle but also contain the Complexus and Spinalis muscles. A rib steak is a beef steak sliced from the rib primal of a beef animal, with rib bone attached. In the United States, the term rib eye steak is used for a rib steak with the bone removed; however in some areas, and outside the U.S., the terms are often used interchangeably. The rib eye or "ribeye" was originally, as the name implies, the center best portion of the rib steak, without the bone. In Australia, "ribeye" is used when this cut is served with the bone in. With the bone removed, it is called "Scotch fillet". It is one of the more flavorful cuts of beef, due to the fact it comes from the upper rib cage area, which does not support much of the cow's weight, nor does it have to work hard or exercise. Its marbling of fat makes this very good for slow roasting and it also goes well on a grill cooked to any degree.

T-Bones and Porterhouses
The T-bone and Porterhouse are steaks of beef cut from the short loin. Both steaks include a "T-shaped" bone with meat on each side. Porterhouse steaks are cut from the rear end of the short loin and thus include more tenderloin steak, along with (on the other side of the bone) a large strip steak. T-bone steaks are cut closer to the front, and contain a smaller section of tenderloin. There is little agreement among experts on how large the tenderloin must be to differentiate a T-bone steak from porterhouse. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Institutional Meat Purchase Specifications state that the tenderloin of a porterhouse must be at least 1.25 inches (32 mm) thick at its widest, while that of a T-bone must be at least 0.5 inches (13 mm). However steaks with a large tenderloin are often called a "T-bone" in restaurants and steakhouses despite technically being porterhouse. Due to their large size and the fact that they contain meat from two of the most prized cuts of beef (the short loin and the tenderloin), T-bone steaks are generally considered one of the highest quality steaks, and prices at steakhouses are accordingly high. Porterhouse steaks are even more highly valued due to their larger tenderloin.

The origin of the term "porterhouse" is surprisingly contentious, as several cities and establishments claim to have coined it. There's some evidence that it might have originated on Manhattan's Pearl Street around 1814, when porter house proprietor Martin Morrison started serving particularly large T-bones. The Oxford English Dictionary lists this etymology as the likely origin of the steak's name while noting that there's no contemporary evidence to support or contradict the tale. This origin story gained traction in the late 19th century, but others contend a Cambridge, Massachusetts, hotel and restaurant proprietor named Zachariah B. Porter lent his name to the cut of beef. Still others claim that the steak takes its name from the Porter House, a popular hotel in 19th-century Flowery Branch, Georgia. T-bone and porterhouse steaks are suited to fast, dry heat cooking methods, such as grilling or broiling. Due to their relative lack of collagen, longer cooking times are not necessary to tenderize the meat. The bone also conducts heat within the meat so that it cooks more evenly and prevents meat drying out and shrinking during cooking. The meat near the bone will cook more slowly than the rest of the steak, and the tenderloin will tend to reach the desired level of doneness before the strip

Roasts
Chateaubriand Roast is cut from the tenderloin and when prepared properly, it can be among the most flavourful and tender cuts. Often served with a reduced sauce made from white wine and shallots moistened with demi-glace and mixed with butter, tarragon, and lemon juice. An alternative spelling is Châteaubriant, and some maintain that the term refers to the quality of the cattle bred around the town of Châteaubriant in the Loire-Atlantique, France. It is traditionally served with herb roasted small "new potatoes" or "chat potatoes" and either Bearnaise or mustard sauce.

A Rib Roast, also known as prime rib, is a cut of beef from the primal rib, which is one of the eight primal cuts of beef. The entire rib section comprises ribs six through 12 of the animal; a rib roast can comprise anywhere from two to seven ribs. A slice of rib roast will include portions of the so-called "eye" of the rib as well as the outer, fat-marbled muscle known as the "lip" or "cap". The traditional preparation for a rib roast is to rub the outside of the roast with salt and seasonings and slow-roast with dry heat. In the United States, it is common for barbecue purists to apply smoke to the uncooked rib roast at low heat for two to three hours before dry roasting.

Corned Beef
Corned beef is a salt-cured beef product. The term comes from the treatment of the meat with "corns" of salt. It features as an ingredient in many cuisines, including Jewish and Caribbean cuisines. Although the exact beginnings of corned beef are unknown, it most likely came about when people began preserving meat through salt-curing. Evidence of its legacy is apparent in numerous cultures, including Ancient Europe, and the Middle East. The word corn derives from Old English, which is used to describe any small hard particles or grains. In the case of "corned beef", the word refers to the coarse granular salts used to cure the beef. In North America corned beef dishes are associated with traditional Irish cuisine. The Irish produced a salted beef around the Middle Ages that was the "forerunner of what today is known as Irish corned beef" and in the 17th century the English named the Irish salted beef, corned beef. Some say it was not until the wave of 18th century Irish immigration to the United States that much of the ethnic Irish first began to consume corned beef dishes as seen today. The Jewish population produced similar koshered cured beef product made from the brisket which the Irish immigrants purchased as corned beef from Jewish butchers. This may have been facilitated by the close cultural interactions and collaboration of these two diverse cultures in the USA's main 19th and 20th Century immigrant port of entry: New York City.







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