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  #11  
Old 05-18-2017, 07:19 AM
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Default Re: How to cut meat, by a Danish butcher

The thing I am taking away most from these videos is there is much more to beef than the same cuts you see every time at the Safeway. Ribeyes are great of course, and strips, and the normal roasts are always there, but I can't find skirt steak let alone most of these others. I wish I had a traditional butcher close by. I found one that is awesome but it's a good 40 min drive each way. Next time I'm going to go in and ask for an oyster steak and a chuck eye.
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Old 05-18-2017, 04:50 PM
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Default Re: How to cut meat, by a Danish butcher

Yeah it really has to do with the fact that grocery stores get most of their meat already broken down into the single muscle group portions so there really isn't a whole lot of skilled butchering happening there. It's more like what the guy in the 2nd video did, some trimming and then cutting into roasts or steaks. With that being said, you can find some hidden cuts that will not be advertised as what they are.

You mentioned wanting to try the chuck eye steak. You can from time to time find this at a regular grocery store but like I said it's hidden. Look for a 7 bone chuck steak/roast. They are usually cut into 1.5-2 inch slabs from the bone in chuck roast. They are called this from the distinctive bone that forms the shape of a number seven like this one:



This cut shown above does not have much of a chuck eye steak on it since it's on the wrong end of the shoulder. If you go to the other end of the shoulder which is actually an extension of the ribeye muscle, you will find something more like this:



Note how the bone doesn't really form a seven and is more long and straight? This is the best way to make sure you are getting the right cut. As shown in the picture, you can cut off the bone in ribeye (aka the chuck eye steak) as well as a small piece from the flat iron to get some really flavorful and tender steaks out of a cut of meat that is often sold for between $1.49-$3/lb. The only tricky bit is that the part in the middle really does need a long slow cook like for stew or a braise so this isn't something you can just grab and have it be quick and easy right out of the package to throw on the grill. When I can find these I'll plan a meal of grilled steaks with the more tender parts and then a 2nd meal like beef stew with the tougher parts. The other trick is that at a store like safeway, they only put out 6-8 package at a time. The best cut with the good steaks will only show up once out of 4-6 packages so you may only find one good one in the case. Its worth it to ask one of the meat department employees if they have any others already cut up and ready in the back to refill the case when the ones already put out are sold. They usually do and if they are nice and bring them out to you, you'll be able to dig through them and find the best 2-3 if you need to feed more people.

There are lots of little tricks like this that you'd never know about without working in the industry or having an incredibly detailed knowledge of the anatomy of a cow. The other thing that makes this difficult is that regionally, a lot of the different cuts are called different things. For example skirt steak is often just called "flap meat." The other problem is that for speed and convenience, a lot of these less common cuts are just thrown into the pile that gets ground up for hamburger.

If you are interested in getting more of these unique cuts of meat at your regular grocery store, I may be able to help you with a few suggestions. First, go in the morning between 8-12. Go back to the meat department and either ring the bell, or flag down someone that works in the department. Ask specifically to speak with the "meat cutter" who is there for the day. Most stores will have 1 meat cutter (butcher) or maybe 2 if they are a very busy store who works the morning shift and cuts all of the meat for the department for the rest of the day. A lot of it gets packaged up and held in the back and then the meat clerks just make sure the case is full and looks nice throughout the day. The cutter is the guy who has the butchery skills and will also know what they have, what they can order specially for you etc. Other than what I mentioned about the store only getting specific popular cuts of meat, there isn't a huge difference between the meat cutter and an actual butcher. The problem we have is that the meat cutter skills are so valuable that the modern grocery store wants him to be cutting meat for 8-9 hours, not talking with customers and therefore producing less. That's why they are stuck in the back for their whole shift. Most of these guys will be stoked to talk with someone who's interested in finding more unique cuts of meat and will try and help you out to get what you need. It's just a matter of meeting them and hopefully getting someone friendly.
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Old 05-19-2017, 12:56 PM
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Default Re: How to cut meat, by a Danish butcher

That's a great post Timsta, thanks!

I have seen the 7 bone cut before, so I'll be sure next time to look for the other end cut like you described.

Trust me, I'm perfectly happy with a ribeye or sirloin or strip, but I really enjoy trying the other cuts that aren't as available in my area, like tri-tip or especially skirt. Lots of flank available but not skirt for some reason. I like being a bit adventurous and trying the other cuts.

I finally did find a place for tri-tip and skirt, but they're not my normal neighborhood store and they don't always have them in stock.

Did you use to work in this industry?
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Old 05-19-2017, 01:41 PM
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Default Re: How to cut meat, by a Danish butcher

When I was in college I took a job at Whole Foods working as a meat clerk in the meat department. I worked there part time (and full time during the summer when I wasn't take classes) for around 3 years. Learned a ton about poultry, pork, lamb, beef, and game. Not too much on seafood since that's a separate department at Whole Foods. When I got hired, I sort of had my choice of which department I wanted to work in since it was for a new store opening and I picked meat department since I already like cooking and wanted to learn more about what was what. One of the best decisions I ever made. Not only to learn about meat but also for the experience working in a customer service industry which I think everyone should do at least for a couple years in their lives. Gives a different perspective on the world.
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