During butchering, beef is first divided into primal cuts, pieces of meat initially separated from the carcass. 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 more tender 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; e.g., the cut described as "brisket" in the US is from a significantly different part of the carcass than British "brisket". "Cut" often refers narrowly to skeletal muscle (sometimes attached to bones), but can also include other edible flesh, such as offal (organ meat) or bones without significant muscles attached.
American cuts of beef
The following is a list of the American primal cuts, and cuts derived from them. Beef carcasses are split along the axis of symmetry into "halves", then across into front and back "quarters" (forequarters and hindquarters). Canada uses identical cut names (and numbering) as the U.S, with the exception of the "round" which is called the "hip".
The chuck is the source of bone-in chuck steaks and roasts (arm or blade), and boneless clod steaks and roasts, most commonly. The trimmings and some whole boneless chucks are ground for ground beef.
The foreshank or shank is used primarily for stews and soups; it is not usually served any other way because it is the toughest of the cuts.
The plate is the other source of short ribs, used for pot roasting, and the outside skirt steak, which is used for fajitas. The navel is the ventral part of the plate, and is commonly used to make pastrami. The remainder is usually ground, as it is typically a tough and fatty meat.
the tenderloin, which is the most tender, can be removed as a separate subprimal, and cut into filet mignons, tournedos or tenderloin steaks, and roasts (such as for beef Wellington). They can also be cut bone-in to make parts of the T-bone and porterhouse loin steaks.
The round contains lean, moderately tough, lower fat (less marbling) cuts, which require moist or rare cooking. Some representative cuts are round steak, eye of round, top round, and bottom round steaks and roasts.
The flank is used mostly for grinding, except for the long and flat flank steak, best known for use in London broil, and the inside skirt steak, also used for fajitas. Flank steaks were once one of the most affordable steaks, because they are substantially tougher than the more desirable loin and rib steaks. Many modern recipes for flank steak use marinades or moist cooking methods, such as braising, to improve the tenderness and flavor. This, combined with a new interest in these cuts' natural leanness, has increased the price of the flank steak.
The most important cuts of beef in the Argentine cuisine are:
the large section of the rib cage including short ribs and spare ribs
Asado de tira
often translated as short ribs, but also sold as long, thin strips of ribs. Chuck ribs, flanken style (cross-cut).
Bife de costilla
T-bone or porterhouse steaks
Bife de chorizo
strip steak, called NY strip in US
Ojo de bife
Bola de lomo
eye of the round
upper portion of small intestines
Colita de cuadril
tri-tip, or the tail of the rump roast
a long thin cut that lies just under the skin and runs from the lower part of the ribs to belly–or flank area
sweetbreads (thymus gland)
Tapa de asado
Tapa de nalga
top of round roast
flank, though it may contain the muscles of other near cuts
Brazilian beef cuts
The most important cuts of beef in the Brazilian cuisine are:
top/bottom sirloin (9)
part of the tenderloin (6)
round (outer) (10)
bottom sirloin/flank (15)
confluence of flank, bottom sirloin and rear shank (16)