A primal cut
is a piece of meat initially separated from the carcass during butchering
. Different countries and cultures make these cuts in different ways, the British
methods all differ. After the primal cuts are taken, these cuts may be broken down further or sold complete.
American Primal cuts
The following is a list of the American primal cuts, ordered front to back, then top to bottom. The short loin and the sirloin are sometimes considered as one section.
- Brisket — often associated with barbecue beef brisket.
- Shank — used primarily for stews and soups, but is not usually served another way, due to it being the toughest of the cuts.
- Plate — produces types of steak such as the skirt steak and hanger steak. It is typically a cheap, tough, and fatty meat.
- Flank — Long and flat, the flank steak's best known application is London Broil. One of the most affordable steaks on the market, it is substantially tougher than the loin and rib steaks, therefore many flank recipes use marinades or moist cooking methods such as braising.
- Hoof - The lower leg, not much meat but great for soups and stocks
British Primal cuts
- Neck & Clod
- Chuck & Blade
- Thick Rib
- Thin Rib
- Thick Flank
- Head - This can be used to make brawn, stocks and soups. After boiling the ears can be fried or baked and eaten separately.
- Spare Rib Roast/Spare Rib Joint/Blade Shoulder/Shoulder Butt - This is the shoulder and contains the shoulder blade. It can be boned out and rolled up as a roasting joint, or cured as "collar bacon". Not to be confused with the rack of spare ribs from the front belly. Pork butt, despite its name, is from the upper part of the shoulder. Boston Butt, or Boston-Style Shoulder, cut comes from this area, and may contain the shoulder blade.
- Hand/Arm Shoulder/Arm Picnic - This can be cured on the bone to make a ham, or used in sausages.
- Loin - This can be cured to give back bacon or Canadian-style bacon. The loin and belly can be cured together to give a side of bacon. The loin can also be divided up into roasts (blade loin roasts, center loin roasts, and sirloin roasts come from the front, center, or rear of the loin), back ribs (also called baby back ribs, or riblets), pork cutlets, and pork chops. A pork loin crown roast is arranged into a circle, either boneless or with rib bones protruding upward as points in a crown. Pork tenderloin, removed from the loin, should be practically free of fat.
- Belly/Side/Side Pork - The belly, although a fattier meat, can be used for steaks or diced stir-fry meat. Belly pork may be rolled for roasting or cut for streaky bacon.
- Legs/Hams - Although any cut of pork can be cured, technically speaking only the back leg is entitled to be called a ham. Legs and shoulders, when used fresh, are usually cut bone-in for roasting, or leg steaks can be cut from the bone. Three common cuts of the leg include the rump (upper portion), center, and shank (lower portion).
- Trotters - Both the front and hind trotters can be cooked and eaten, as can the tail.
- Spare ribs, or spareribs, are taken from the pig's ribs and the meat surrounding the bones. St. Louis-style spareribs have the sternum, cartilage, and skirt meat removed.
The traditional British cuts of Lamb: