Sep 20
by Doug Piper

Breaking down beef cuts

What is a beef Sub Primal?

Have you looked at ways of making more out of some of the beef primals that you have in your fridges or offering a different size steak that suit the “smaller portion” customers without breaking the bank?

Part of the Meat Standards Australia (MSA) grading program shows us how to sub primal various beef muscles by separating a large primal like a whole rump and breaking it down into its “sub primals”, those smaller muscle that make up the large primals.

There are approximately 11 cuts of beef suitable for sub primalling; this includes both fore and hind shin meat that separate into individual muscles for use in a variety of delicious Asian dishes for use as a thin slice or stir fry or slow cooked.

Other cuts that have sub primals are, brisket, chuck, blade, rump, shortloin, cube roll, outside flat, knuckle, inside and then you have the three main flanks; external flank plate, internal flank plate and flank steak.

Why would you break down a cube roll? The cube roll is often sub primaled for export markets, the spinalis or cube roll plate, (the extremely tender and well marbled piece of beef that is located at the chuck end of the cube roll) that covers the rib eye muscle is removed and is in high demand for the foodservice sector in a variety of export markets. Domestically we just would not do that, unless asked… well maybe, I have never seen the spinalis offered for sale in a butcher shop in my 44 years in the trade and never been asked for it.

I think the most valuable muscles to sub primal are the chuck, blade and whole rump. Chucks are an amazing primal that suit a slow cook/braise, thin slice, stir fry, roasting and even a grill. Not all chucks will suit those cook methods, a grass fed chuck just won’t perform using some of those cook methods unless it is a GRADED chuck, I prefer to use a grain fed chuck, preferably a long fed or even a Wagyu chuck roll. Not a whole chuck either (unless you are looking for diced or trim) a chuck roll is what I go for.

The chuck roll can be broken down into several delicious cuts, chuck log, chuck plate, (covers the chuck eye log) chuck rib meat and the crest. We have used a Wagyu chuck roll for snacking food at an Australian Butchers Guild value adding night a few years back. The chuck eye (has part of the cube roll in it as it runs through the chuck) was  sliced into steaks that is  known as the Delmonico and the meat that covers that chuck eye log also sliced into steaks called a Denver Rib steak.

The steaks were served up medium/ rare to a group of hungry butchers who were amazed at how well this secondary cut ate as a grill. Remember all the trim can be utilised as mince for Wagyu burgers or sausages etc. Be careful what you use if you are going to try this, stick to my recommendation when you do this and use grain fed or Wagyu for best results however feel free to try using other grades if it doesn’t sample well at least you can still dice or mince it.

The most valuable primal is the whole rump that can be broken down into six different sub primals using fresh body beef or 5 sub primals from a "D" rump.

You can create smaller leaner tender portions instead of one large slice of rump that eats a little different throughout the steak. The tri tip is usually removed first, great as a roast, thin slice or steaked. The tri tip is also a popular piece of beef in the USA, butchers prepare the cut into matchbox-sized chunks and marinated ready for the bbq.

The rump cap also known as a Picanha, great sliced into steaks or roasted whole, the small pillow is removed from the underside of the rump centre or Rostbiff (AUSMEAT cut description). The pillow is separated into two pieces one part is good for mince the other piece with silver skin on it eats extremely well as a grill.

Separate the Rostbiff into two, rump eye-side muscle and the rump centre by following the layer of connective tissue that separates the two muscles. The rump eye looks similar to a slice of eye fillet, is very tender has no external fat cover and is a nice small portion sized steak. The rump centre is a good-sized steak, I leave the fat cap on this, and the fat gives the steak that extra bit of flavour.

There is a bit of work doing this but it gives your customers more variety to choose from and gives you another talking point in your window.

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