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PRIMAL CUTS OF BEEF
Not to be confused with the meat grade "Prime", Primal Cuts are basic sections of a butchered cow. The more exercise a section gets, the tougher the cut becomes. For example, the Shank and Neck are integral to a cow's mobility, hence making them the toughest cuts. The Chuck is also tough, making it perfect for slow cooking or braising. As we move toward the center, cuts start to get much more tender. The Rib cut is home to Prime Rib, Rib Eye Steaks and the Short Ribs which extend down into the Short Plate. The Short Loin holds the T-Bone, Porterhouse and Strip Steaks. The Sirloin is a bit less tender than its "shorter" neighbor, but makes up for it in flavor. Now onto the Tenderloin (the best part!). Responsible for the mighty Filet Mignon when de-boned, the Tenderloin lacks little when it comes to marbling and flavor. When the bone is left on, you'll find the filet in a T-Bone or Porterhouse. As we digress down to the Flank, you'll start to notice a tougher, leaner cut that's best know for its London Broil. Last "butt", not least, we have the Round. Also tough and featuring less marbling, this cut is best cooked with liquid to prevent it from drying out.
PRIMAL CUTS OF LAMB
Unlike Beef, Lamb is divided between the Rib and Loin, making the foresaddle and hindsaddle. Starting with the Neck, this tougher cut produces Lamb Stew. The Shoulder is well exercised, which means it has a very robust flavor. The Rib features some of the best cuts of a Lamb; the Crown Roast, Rack and Rib Chops. Taking the grunt work of the Lamb, the Breast is one of the only cuts to need moist heat when cooking. Moving onto the hindsaddle, the Loin is home to the most tender part of the Lamb and produces Loin Chops and the Loin Roast. Sirloin Steaks and Chops come from (guess where?) The Sirloin. The Flank is rather tough, making it a great cut for braising and grinding. Although very tough, when cooked correctly, the Shanks melt off the bone perfection. Last but not least, the Leg. The prized jewel of roasts. Featuring a lean, but tender texture, the Leg of Lamb has deep levels of flavor and tradition.
PRIMAL CUTS OF PORK
Pork is home to some of the most popular cuts of meat, and for good reason. The Shoulder (A.K.A Boston Butt) is a well exercised area that holds a lot of flavor and are usually sold as steaks or roasts. The Picnic is also tough, making it an ideal candidate for cured and smoked products. The Clear Plate and Back Fat are main sources of lard and pork salt. The Loin houses the most tender cuts of Pork. Loin Chops, Cutlets, and the Tenderloin are know for being lean and full of flavor. Baby Back Ribs, Spare Ribs and Rib Chops are some of the most popular cuts within the Rib section. These cuts are best cooked on low temperatures for longer periods of time. Now onto the most mysterious cut of them all, Bacon. It is believed that Pancetta and Bacon are products of this cut, but we're still waiting for this to be confirmed (just kidding). The Leg Ham is where Prosciutto is born, along with other cured and smoked products. The Leg can also be sold as a large roast.
PRIMAL CUTS OF CHICKEN
Chicken, the most versatile meat. It can be cooked by itself or as a base for almost anything. When it comes to versatility, the Breast is, hands down, the winner. It is the leanest part of the bird that can be used anywhere from stir fry, to salads. The Wing is a favorite cut for the grill or oven, cooked with BBQ sauce, or in paella. The Leg is another perfect candidate for the grill or oven. It can also be separated from the drumstick, leaving the thigh, which are tender and juicy.