While many people typically enjoy the flavors of many different types of meat, they don’t always know the differences between cuts of meat. This information can be very useful when buying and preparing meat, because the meat cuts are from specific areas of the animal’s body. There are many varieties of meat cuts sold in the beef, pork and lamb retail markets.
There are nearly 20 types of steak cuts. Beef can be divided into six different types of main cuts, including round, loin, rib, chuck, flank and brisket. Round cuts are typically from the rear area of the cow and include rump roasts and eye round steaks. Loin cuts come from the cow’s middle back area and are usually considered the most tender cuts of beef. They include filet mignon, sirloin, porterhouse and T-bone steak cuts.
Rib cuts come from the rib area and can be in roast or rib eye steak form, as well. Chuck cuts are from the cow’s chest area and include pot roasts and blade steaks. Flank and brisket cuts are from the lower underbelly of the cow and typically need to be cooked slower than other cuts or run the risk of drying out and tasting “chewy.”
Pork has seven major types of meat cuts, including ham, loin, Boston shoulder, picnic shoulder, spareribs, belly and jowl. Ham comes from the rear area and hind legs part of the pig, and comes in leg, rump and shank portioned cuts. Pork loin cuts come from the upper back part of the pig, just underneath the top layers of fat. These cuts can include pork chops, Canadian bacon and pork roasts.
The Boston shoulder cuts come from the top part of the front shoulders, and include shoulder blade steaks and roasts. Picnic shoulder cuts come from the front legs of the pig, and include picnic roasts and shoulder arm steak cuts. Sparerib cuts come from the rib cage area of the pig, while belly cuts, such as bacon, come from the pig’s underside. Smoked jowl is a jowl cut that comes from the neck and chin of the pig.
There are six major meat cuts from lamb, such as the leg, loin, rack, shoulder, shank and breast. The leg cuts come from the rear portion and back legs of the lamb, and they include leg sirloin, leg roast and leg chops. The loin section comes from the back middle portion of the lamb. Cuts from this section include loin chops and loin roasts. One of the most popular cuts of lamb is the rack section, which is from the rib area of the lamb.
The shoulder cuts come from between the neck and shank areas, and they include square cuts, blade chops, arm chops and neck slice cuts. Shank cuts are from the top of the front legs of a lamb. Breast cuts come from below the rack area and include spareribs and breasts.
References and ResourcesMeals for You: Guide to Meat Cuts
Thundering Hooves: Meat Cuts and How to Cook Them
University of Nebraska: Meat Identification Page