Cheat Sheet for Meat

In case you missed it, there was an article in the Business Section of the Trib recently entitled, “Meat Industry Takes Knife to Names” by P.J. Huffstutter. The gist of the piece talks about how the pork and beef industries are working to rename over 350 meat cut monikers, “…to give them more sizzle”.

BostonRoastTo give you a feel for how this will play out, the pork butt, for example – which really comes from the shoulder of the animal not the back side – will now be called a “Boston Roast”.  The idea is that consumers will feel better about purchasing and serving Boston Roast vs. Pork Butt.  When you look at it like that, butt for dinner is not such a glamorous thing.

There are many nicknames already used by meat purveyors, chefs and restaurateurs in the food service industry for the different cuts of meat.  What’s most interesting is consumers are already highly familiar with a lot of them.

What’s in a Name?

Steak cuts such as, Delmonico, New York Strip and Porterhouse came by their names based on the popularity of where they were served.  A porterhouse was the name for a bar and steak house popular in the mid to late 1800’s. Legend has it that when the owner of a particular Manhattan porterhouse started serving rather large T-bone steaks, they became known as the now ubiquitous Porterhouse Steak. 

Contemporary names for meat come from a variety of resources. A recent example of this occurred when research teams at the Universities of Nebraska and Florida were looking for a new value cut from the top blade of the shoulder.The resulting value cut was shaped like an old flat iron and thus given the name Flat Iron Steak. TGI Friday’s first popularized the Flat Iron Steak and it is seen on numerous menus today. The meat industry continually looks for ways to merchandise new cuts of meat. 

Meat Lingo

When I first came into to the meat business, I quickly realized I had to learn a new language – the language of meat. One of the best things I did was attend the North American Meat Association (NAMA) Center of the Plate Training  where I learned the scientific names of each muscle, where on the animal it came from and what its common nickname was.  As I started working with restaurateurs and chefs, I soon learned another whole set of nicknames for the same cuts of meat. It was confusing at times, to say the least.

The language of meat became tacit knowledge being immersed in the business on a daily basis and I soon found myself unconsciously speaking it to my customers and colleagues.  Ironically, due to the volume and duality of meat names, confusion prevailed both internally and externally.  Ultimately, we developed a “Cheat Sheet for Meat” for the language of meat to train employees and help consumers better understand meat cuts and decode meat industry buzzwords.

BeefCutMapBiggerWhile certainly not exhaustive, below are the most common terms used in the language of meat and what they mean. For additional detail check the Meat Buyer’s Guide available in print and online. View a complete Cheat Sheet for Meat here.



Ball-Tip Steak Boneless steak cut from the bottom sirloin muscle known as the ball tip / Lower cost value cut
Baseball cut butt steak Boneless top sirloin steak cut filet style / Rich and flavorful, looks like a tenderloin filet at a lower cost
Bavette Steak Name commonly used for steaks cut from sirloin flap meat  
Boston Cut Strip Steak Boneless New York Strip steak cut in half across the width  
Butcher’s Steak Another name for hanging tender steak, or hanger steaks
Club Steak Cut from the beef short loin nearest the rib / Triangular L shaped like a T-Bone steak but without the tenderloin
Cowboy Steak Bone-in Rib-eye steak with meat cut off at top end of the bone leaving about 1” exposed bone for presentation
Cube Steak Cut of beef, usually top round or top sirloin, fiercely tenderized by pounding with a meat or electric tenderizer 
Delmonico Steak Boneless Rib-eye steak with no tail fat
Filet (Tenderloin Filet) Commonly used term for a boneless steak cut from the tenderloin muscle
Flank Steak Boneless steak cut from the abdominal muscle which is called the flank
Flat Iron Steak Steak cut from the shoulder top blade muscle located inside the clod or shoulder / Tender value cut
Hanger Steak Steak cut from the hanging tender in the diaphragm of the animal / Commonly called Onglet Steak in French bistros
Kansas City Strip Bone-in Strip steak cut from the short loin
London Broil Variety of thinly sliced beef cuts, usually boneless, for broiling / Suggested cuts: top butt cap, flank, and top round
NY Strip Steak Boneless steak cut from the strip loin muscle
Onglet Steak Another name for a Hanger Steak
Petite Filet Medallion Common name given to a boneless cut from the teres major muscle in the shoulder
Porterhouse Steak Bone-in steak cut from short loin; similar to T-bone / One side is tenderloin at least 1.25″ wide; one side strip loin
Ranch Steak Boneless steak cut from beef shoulder chuck / Technical name: boneless chuck shoulder center cut steak / Value cut
Rib-Eye Steak Cut from the animal’s rib portion / Rib-eye steaks can be boneless or bone-in
Sizzler Steak Name commonly used for boneless ball-tip steaks
Skirt Steak Boneless steak cut from whole skirt muscle / Can be inside or outside skirt
Sirloin Flap Cut from the bottom sirloin just above the flank and right next to the short loin  
T-Bone Steak Bone-in steak cut from short loin similar to a Porterhouse / One side tenderloin at least .5″ wide; one side strip loin
Tomahawk Steak Name for bone-in rib-eye steak with long portion of rib bone attached and exposed for dramatic plate presentation
Top Butt Steak Boneless steak cut from top sirloin muscle, rich and flavorful / Not the actual “butt” of the animal
Tri-Tip Steak Boneless steak cut from tri-tip muscle, part of the bottom sirloin
Vein Steak Hip end of sirloin strip or short loin; shows piece of connective tissue around loin eye / Value cut from end of strip loin
Backstrap Elastin type connective tissue found in neck, blade, rib and loin / Usually removed before steaking or roasting strip loin
BRT “Boned, Rolled & Tied” / Bone is removed; meat is rolled and tied (netted) / Usual specification for boneless lamb legs  
Chine Bone Part of the backbone that remains after a carcass is split / Chine bones should be removed from beef roasts to cut through the roast prior to or after cooking
Denuded Meat cuts that have had all surface fat removed
French Cut Bone-in steaks (or chops) with meat trimmed from the bone to expose it / Like the “cowboy steak”
Lollipop Cut Bone-in steak (or lamb/pork chop) with bone trimmed down to eye of the loin / Bone is exposed further than French or Cowboy style making it look like  a “lollipop”
Mouse or Rat Muscle Small muscle part of the whole top sirloin (top butt) / Can be left on or taken off with cutting steaks
Peeled Same as Denuded; meat cuts that have had all surface fat removed
Pinned (Needled) Tenderizing process involving penetration of muscles by steel blades
Silver Skin Thin film of soft connective tissue on beef tenderloin / Can be left on or removed when cutting steaks
Tail Fat Small part of fat attached to cut of steak / Typically 1” or 2” on Strip Steaks and Rib-Eyes
Ball Tip Boneless sub primal found in Bottom Butt / Can be roasted or cut for “Sizzler” steaks
Bottom Butt (Bottom Sirloin) Boneless sub primal below Top Butt; includes Tri-Tip and Ball Tip cuts 
Bottom Round Bone-in sub primal from beef round or back leg of steer / Also called a “Gooseneck Round”
Chuck Bone-in or boneless containing neck, shoulder blade and upper arm / Tougher cut good for roasting and ground beef
Chuck Roll Boneless cut from the whole beef chuck
Clod Heart Flavorful less tender cut from heart of beef shoulder / Clod roast is an economical cut for roasting or grinding 
Coulotte Triangular shaped muscle beneath the surface of whole top butt muscle / Very rich in flavor, great for roasting or steaks
Export Rib Bone-in whole Rib-eye primal cut / Used for roasting or cutting into bone-in rib-eye steaks
Gooseneck (Round) Bone-in sub primal that comes from beef round or back leg of steer / Also called “Bottom Round”
Inside Round Bone-in sub primal that comes from the beef round or back leg of the steer / Also called “Top Round”
Knuckle Very lean part of the sirloin; also known as “Sirloin Tip” / Commonly used for roasts and ground beef
Lipon Rib-Eye Boneless rib section; sub primal / Used for prime rib and boneless rib-eye steaks
PSMO Peeled beef tenderloin; side muscle on / Common sub primal cut used for roasting or cutting into tenderloin filets
Short Loin Bone-in sub primal from back of the steer / Contains part of the spine and includes the strip loin and tenderloin
Strip Loin 0x1 Boneless sub primal cut without tail fat on one end and 1″ tail fat on the other / Used for roasting or cutting strip steaks
Strip Loin 1×1 Boneless sub primal cut with 1″ tail fat across the loin / Used for roasting or cutting strip steaks
Top Butt (Top Sirloin) Boneless sub primal below tenderloin between short loin and round / Used for roasting or cutting steaks rich with flavor
Top Round Bone-in sub primal from the beef round or back leg of steer / Also called “Inside Round”
Tri-Tip Boneless sub primal found in Bottom Butt / Great for roasting or cutting into Tri-Tip Steaks

When names like Boston Butt start popping up in our local meat cases people will ask “what’s that?”  The store managers will explain, meat companies will keep marketing it, restaurants will soon follow and before you know it, we will all be using these new names. 


From the desk of John Cecala Twitter @ Buedel Fine Meats  Facebook  Buedel Fan Page 

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Embrace Trends for the Win-Win-Win

What could be more exciting than bringing a new brand of healthy burgers to the grocery checkout line? Nothing (in our humble book of meat feats)!  Breaking ground in new markets is always an exciting thing, especially when it helps bring notoriety to your own city.

Here’s the breaking news:

Local Meat Men Lasso East Coast
Healthy burgers on their way to Mid Atlantic & Southeast by way of Chicago

Local Meat Companies Tallgrass Beef and Buedel Fine Meats have teamed up to design and deliver a healthier burger alternative for supermarket giant Delhaize America. Over 1,000 stores across the Mid Atlantic and Southeast region will receive first shipments this week at Delhaize Food Lion, Hannaford and Sweetbay locations.

Delhaize is a global retailer with a company-wide initiative in place for sustainable business and healthy eating. They decided to partner with Tallgrass Beef to develop a burger made from, “100% grass-fed beef with no additives or imitation ingredients to deliver and educate customers on the best and most healthy options in the marketplace.”

Anytime “better choices” are brought to the marketplace it’s a good thing for consumers, and in this case, better for health, local, sustainability and the humane treatment of animals. “The new product line,” offers Tallgrass President, Bill Kurtis, “also provides Delhaize customers with the ability to show support for animals raised naturally void of added hormones and antibiotics.”

The appetite for healthy, local and sustainable foods is strong and growing. In an article published by the University of Chicago’s Environment, Agriculture & Food blog, the interest in knowing where our food comes from and the humane treatment of animals is becoming increasingly important not only to consumers but to restaurants and chefs as well.

Delhaize says they believe, “Tallgrass Burgers gives a healthy and amazing tasting product that people can feed their families while knowing without a doubt that they are buying the safest, healthiest and most nutritious beef possible!” Partnering with Tallgrass makes perfect sense for Delhaize; it also demonstrates the need for our industry to be proactive in meeting the demand for these types of food options.

The working relationship between Tallgrass, as meat provider and Buedel as purveyor and distributor on this project, exemplifies how our industry can come together in the ways we bring beef to market. When you factor in the opportunity to build Chicago as an emerging go to resource for healthy beef choices, it’s a win-win-win for the city, economy and consumers.


From the desk of John Cecala Twitter @ Buedel Fine Meats  Facebook  Buedel Fan Page 

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Moto’s Chef Richie Farina: Train Others to Take Your Place

In his spare time – not that any executive chef has much of that – Chef Richie Farina hits the gym daily to “de-stress”, trains in the mixed martial arts on the weekends and tries to golf as much as he can. The Florida native visits his family several times a year, but says Chicago is now his permanent home.

Chef Farina gained national recognition as one of the most creative talents in the restaurant world as a featured contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef and one of four lead characters on the Discovery Network’s Future Food. Currently the Chef de Cuisine for Moto Restaurant, Farina is one of the city’s top modern culinary artists in residence.

If you had to explain to someone who knew nothing of molecular gastronomy, how would you describe it?

I believe the main purpose is taking familiar ingredients and changing the texture and composition. It could be by dehydrating it or switching up the texture of the way something is. All you’re doing is changing the normal state we’re used to seeing it in.

How do you think people perceive this trend?

Sometimes tasting menus are confused as being molecular only. When it first started you’d just do a bite of something, but the technique is so difficult to reproduce, you really need to know upfront if you need 30 servings versus just 1 or 2.

For a while, it was a big trend. The days of just having this kind of food on the menu are kind of over. The restaurants that did it well are still here – us, Alinea, Next… We push the envelope the way we present food, that’s what makes the Chicago food scene different from New York or L.A.

All the fine dining restaurants have some kind of molecular gastronomy on the menu; it’s a very cool tool. Now, it’s more about taking these ideas into regular dishes; there are very few things that are just strictly molecular. I work more on presentation using the molecular style to enhance.

At your sister restaurant, iNG, they use the Miracle Berry to replace sugar. Are you working on anything like that at Moto – maybe coming up with something to replace fat calories or sodium?

Not yet; I couldn’t let go of my salt either, I depend on it.

MBerry is a good tool for diabetics and chemo patients looking to replace sugar. At iNG, they do ‘flavor tripping’; you can have half of your course as savory and then the other half of the same exact food as sweet.

If you could invent something new, what would you want to innovate?

I would focus on the way we cook stuff.  Most people use gas, but I’d want to create a more accessible, user friendly and affordable induction unit for the home to save natural resources.

You’ve described Moto as, “By far the craziest and most fun place I have ever worked.” Why is it so ‘crazy’ and ‘fun’?

It’s ‘crazy’ because I’m always on call. I could get a call from the owner at 8 in the morning to produce something completely new or different by 2 that afternoon. I never know what’s going to happen.

The level of our food takes a lot of attention; sometimes kitchens operating at this level are run in a military style. It’s important to me to keep the mood very light. We play YouTube videos, music – everybody gets to play their song – it’s the little things. Sometimes I show up in costume (I have this whole Nerf thing going) – sometimes we play games in the alley. I manage off my personality – it’s tough enough – I want to try to create a fun atmosphere.

From an operations standpoint, what are the biggest challenges in running a restaurant like Moto?

Being consistent and new; the next step is presentation. We want people to have an experience from the time they walk in the door until they leave. We are always trying to find something different. Nothing on the menu right now is served on a traditional white plate, we treat the plate as an ingredient itself.  Seasonal menus are another challenge. We have 15 courses we change every three months.

What about cost?

Our highest cost is labor – because of the techniques and time it takes to do these things. We need a big staff.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

In ten years? I’ll be 40. Hopefully I’ll own a restaurant – your job as a chef, is to train somebody to take your place. I want to settle down, get married, have kids… all that stuff. It’s so easy to get lost in your work. The last thing I want to do is be working 60-80 hours a week, and I haven’t done my job to have someone take over my spot.

If you could open your own restaurant tomorrow, what kind of place would it be?

Tomorrow? It would be what I’m doing now – I love being able to be as creative as I can be. It’s great to hear good things from repeat customers – how they see progress being made under my direction.

We’ve always had great direction, and great cooks – but I think people realize now that the food is [not only] cool but also really, really good. When you sit down you may not recognize what you’re eating, but you know it’s going to be good.

Ultimately, I’d want to have a pizza place, it’s where I started. I enjoy fine dining, but just to have a small place – almost like a hobby – so when I’m sold out, I’m sold out.


From the desk of John Cecala Twitter@BuedelFineMeats Facebook Buedel Fan Page

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Meat Picks | 4.5.13

Restaurant Social

There was an insightful article earlier this week posted on Sysomos about a Toronto area restaurant that works their digital marketing without an anchor website. Using Tumbler as their primary information resource, the FARMHOUSE Tavern, works the free social/blog platform as a base for their PR and promotional efforts across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

FARMHOUSE says they like these platforms not only because they are all free to use, but also because they feel the value of letting “people directly engage – be it through follows, tweets, likes and shares”, have allowed them to build a successful word of mouth network they couldn’t have achieved without them.

The Yoke’s on You

NRN recently reported the Egg White Delight McMuffin will make its national debut on April 22nd. This version of the iconic fast food breakfast will be made with a whole-grain English muffin, egg whites, Canadian bacon and a slice of white Cheddar for 260 calories. (A regular McMuffin has 300.) Egg white alternatives are also going to be made available for all of McD’s breakfast sandwiches.

Hands On Learning

My business partner Darren Benson and I recently attended a two day short course on Sustainable Agriculture at Colorado State University sponsored by Niman Ranch. We literally found ourselves back in school for an intense dose of actual curriculum taught by leading professors and scientists in the field.

One of many lessons learned: the best sustainable development practices plan ahead for seven future generations. Read on at: Sustainable Agriculture: The Short Course.

Bayless Beer

If you missed the recent news about Rick Bayless’ new deal with Crown Imports, check the full read here. Chicago’s own is set to partner with “the nation’s largest” beer importer (i.e. Corona, Modelo) to develop a new craft beer. Congratulations, Chef B.!

Taste On Its Way Out?

Last month Chicago Magazine published a piece entitled, 5 Reasons We Wouldn’t Be Sad To See Taste of Chicago End. Adding to the fact that the City lost over a million on the festival last year, editors added why they think the Taste just ain’t what it use to be sighting lack of food quality and diversity, among other things. Do you agree?

This year’s fest is scheduled for July 10-14.


From the desk of John Cecala Twitter @ Buedel Fine Meats  Facebook  Buedel Fan Page

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Sustainable Agriculture: The Short Course

I recently had the opportunity to escape the daily responsibilities of adult life and go back to college for a couple of days. My business partner Darren Benson and I attended a two day short course on Sustainable Agriculture at Colorado State University sponsored by Niman Ranch.

Sustainability is a buzzword in everything from company mission statements to t-shirts these days. When we first learned about the opportunity, we thought the trip would be a fun escape from our daily grind where we could learn more about a social topic that seems to be of growing importance in the meat business.

We expected the typical business event: show up, listen to presentations, gain a few pearls of wisdom, network over dinner and have some fun. Quite the opposite was true. For industry leader Niman Ranch, educating others on topic and how it directly relates to our businesses meant presenting an intensive two day Masters level program covering sustainability from the eco-system to animal production systems. We unequivocally felt like we were back in school!

Staffing UpColorado State

Topics were approached from an academic perspective, in collaboration with Kraig Peel, PhD., Professor Animal Sciences Department at CSU and director for the Western Center for Integrated Resource Management. Dr. Peel engaged experts from the CSU staff to develop the curriculum which included a combination of classroom lectures and hands-on lab experiences. Dr. Robert G. Woodmansee, Professor at the Department of Rangeland Ecosystem Science, Senior Scientist – Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Dr. Joe Brummer, a soil and crop sciences specialist and  Dr. Jay Parsons, an agricultural production economist and risk management specialist were all part of the teaching team.

We were also given homework in preparation for the event. Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World by Brian Walker and David Salt and numerous other pre-course white papers were assigned for reading.

Day One

The first day we learned about the scientific basis of sustainability which in essence revolves around interacting ecosystems made up of people and communities; land and water and plants and animals.

A group of parts that operate together for a common purpose or function is an ecosystem.  For example, a football team has many players each with a specific role that all must work together to win the game.

In agriculture, a farm is an ecosystem that provides a living to the farmer and her family.  In order for the farm to persist, the farmer must preserve the capability of the land he/she depends on to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.  Ecosystems are all around us, from microbiology to the Earth itself.

We learned that many of the problems we have today with greenhouse gasses, global warming, extreme flooding and vaster wildfires are largely due to a lack of sustainable resilience thinking in historical ecosystems. We also learned these types of problems are all solvable. Desired sustainable ecosystems can be created through coordinated efforts between science, management and policies. In other words, getting people with diverse self-interests to talk to each other is key.

Governmental policies are often made to solve an immediate problem for society by politicians solely interested in re-election by that society. When these policies are made without regard for the larger societal landscape, undesired future problems can occur.

An example of this can be made on the water management policies in the Florida Everglades. While their policies were put in place with good intentions to solve one problem, they unexpectedly created a new problem of cattails taking over the natural flora, which ultimately harmed the wildlife and food chain several years later. Other examples include the Farm Bill and government subsidies designed to help one group of society yet negatively impacting other parts.

It will be interesting to see how the governmental polices related to Fracking will play out with regard to our needs for oil versus food. Hopefully, there will be earnest coordination between the political, governmental and social communities to develop sustainable and resilient policies with regard to fracking.

The best sustainable development practices plan ahead for seven future generations.

Day Two

The second day we went to the CSU Agricultural Research, Development and Education Center (ARDEC) to study animal production systems in the U.S. and how Risk Management strategies in agriculture are employed.

The facility provides a wealth of opportunity to conduct investigations on agricultural problems using a coordinated and integrated approach of multi-disciplinary expertise. Such problems may include the entire system of agriculture from inputs (land, water, genetic materials) through production, to value added processing.


On site at ARDEC

ARDEC provides faculty, staff, students, agricultural producers, processors, agribusiness representatives, natural resource managers, governmental agencies and others with the opportunity to participate in work conducted on-site with live systems. We toured live animal operations and learned about the ways family ranchers can employ the sustainable thinking concepts on their own family farms.

Our program concluded with the Risk Navigator simulator – it was like a flight simulator for farming. We broke up into groups, and each group had to run a simulated farm for five years. We made simulated production decisions and then saw the impacts of our decisions extremely quickly on the ecosystem, animals and ultimately, the bottom line.  We had to raise cattle, grow hay, corn and other crops, practice crop rotation to preserve the soil, and cow/calf operations to preserve the herd. The simulator also threw us unexpected curve balls like drought, too much rain and disease throughout our simulation period.

It was just like being in a flight simulator. Some of us crashed and burned our farms, making fast money in the beginning but ultimately losing money or going bust in the long run by consuming the natural resources to fast. Others did exceptionally well by taking advantage of sustainable concepts and risk management strategies.

I’m proud to say that my group’s simulated farm survived and made a small profit, but I think it was mostly by accident. I personally gained a new appreciation for farmers’ life work, and just how hard they have to work make a living and preserve the farm for future generations.

Final Exam

Going back to college made me realize several things. First, how much I miss it! (How great would it be to have the priorities of a twenty year old again – just going to class and parties?) I also realized how much we take our natural resources for granted in today’s world of immediate gratification, quarterly earnings and politics.

I wish everyone could have the opportunity to fully understand the scope of sustainability and see it for more than just a buzzword.


From the desk of John Cecala Twitter @ Buedel Fine Meats  Facebook  Buedel Fan Page

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