Bubbyswhollycow’s Weblog


Prime Cuts versus Other Cuts
May 17, 2008, 1:34 pm
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One of the most interesting things to learn when dealing with a whole steer is what the cuts are, where they come from on the animal, and how to use the whole thing. More or less, from a thousand pound steer, on the hoof (when it is still mooing), you get about 610 pounds of hanging weight. Hanging weight is what the animal weighs after it has been killed, gutted, head and hide removed, as well as the hoof. From 610 pounds of hanging weight you can expect about 400 pounds of meat.

Looking at a beef cut chart, one can see that there are some familiar cuts, some more desirable cuts (everyone wants the rib eye and the strip steak,) and some oddball cuts, as well as some offals: kidneys, heart, liver, tongue. It was necessary to explain to the butcher exactly how to cut up our steer. One large decision is what to turn into hamburger. Bubby’s best selling menu item is the hamburger. The fact that hardly anyone in New York City has grass fed beef, especially not pedestrian restaurants like Bubby’s, makes it so I really don’t want to run out of ground beef. On the other hand, I also did not want to turn the tenderloins, strips, or rib eyes into burger. Neither did I want to grind the briskets or the shank meat. Some of those, as I refer to them as, secondary cuts are tastier than the primes. Bubby’s has a full size pit barbecue, so some of those “secondary cuts” are really tasty. The briskets, some of the chuck, and some of the short ribs, for example, are some of the most superior barbecue to make. There are only two briskets. There is a lot of short rib: 43 pounds of it, in our case. There was a good deal of kabob meat, which I gather is a collection of fairly tender trimmings that are good as chili or grilled on a stick.

So, short ribs. I learned the hard way that there are two things that are called short ribs. One is the traditional flanken short rib, which is located on the bottom of the short plate (one of the sections on the cow diagram,) and chuck short ribs. The chuck short ribs are very meaty and the flanken short ribs are small. The flanken cooks pretty fast, can be grilled and served medium rare. The chuck short ribs take time to cook, low and slow. I was not aware of the difference until I started cooking with them. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them at all, so I cruised the internet for a few ideas. The first thing I looked at was Mark Bittman’s video of himself making short ribs. I took some Bittman pointers and went to work. As the ribs were in the pan searing I walked through the dining room and Bittman was sitting there eating breakfast with a couple folks. They were in a meeting, but I interrupted (which I NEVER do) and told him I had watched his video and told him about the whole steer project. Then I came back and showed him the seared ribs. He seemed annoyed, but said they looked good so far.

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