One of the most common questions we hear from those thinking about ordering large quantities of beef from us is “What cuts of beef will I get if I order a quarter, half or whole?”
Your question shows that you know that a steer is made up of more than just steaks — a lot more!
In this post and video we hope to explain a little more about each of the cuts of beef and where the best cuts of beef are found. Plus, we will discuss exactly what cuts you get if you order a quarter, half or whole beef from our farm.
What are the different cuts of beef?
There are 8 main cuts of beef, and they’re called the primal cuts.
- Loin (short loin and sirloin)
- Short Plate
Where are the best cuts of beef found?
The more expensive steaks are cut from the center of the steer, which is the loin or rib section.
Why the center? Because beef gets more tender as the distance from horn and hoof increases.
A steer’s legs and neck muscles do most of the work, so the muscles there are firmer. That makes these areas the toughest. The loin and ribs are at the center of the animal, and compared to a neck muscle, they don’t work much so they’re tender cuts
Why are there so many different names for cuts of beef?
There are lots of reasons, but one of them is because grocery stores and butchers can cut beef in a variety of ways and name it however is best for their store or region. In fact, one study showed that many grocery stores carry more than 60 different beef products.
When you order from our farm, cuts of beef are labeled with the most common name for the cut.
For example, a strip steak can also be called a NY Strip, KC Strip, or hotel steak, just to name a few. When you purchase it from our farm, we call it a “Strip Steak.”
What cuts of beef come with a quarter or half beef from your farm:
- Ground Beef
- Filet Steak
- Ribeye Steak
- Sirloin Steak
- Skirt Steak
- Strip Steak
- Round Steak
- Chuck Roast
- Arm Roast
- Rump Roast
- Stew Meat
- Kabob Meat
- Beef Ribs
- Soup Bones
- Liver (if desired)
- Heart (if desired and if available based on those you’re cow-pooling with.)
- Tongue (if desired and if available based on those you’re cow-pooling with.)
What about Delmonico and Club Steaks?
A comment we sometimes hear is that people are surprised that there aren’t more unique cuts on our standard beef cut list, such as Porterhouse Steak, Delmonico Steak, Club Steak, etc.
The reason for this is because a steer is made up of more than just steak. In fact, the number of steaks that can be cut from a steer is surprisingly small.
Let’s explain this even more by looking at one cut of beef.
You’re probably familiar with a T-bone steak with its famous “T” shaped bone in the center. Depending on how you cut the T-bone and the size of it, it can have many different names.
For example, if you decide to cut the bone out, you would no longer have a T-bone. Instead, you would have two distinct cuts — a tenderloin (or filet) and a strip steak.
And if it’s an extremely large T-bone, it would be called a Porterhouse Steak, not a T-bone. According to the USDA, if the tenderloin section that is at least 1.25 inches across at the widest section, it’s a porterhouse steak. However, if it’s between 1.24-0.51 inches, it’s a T-bone. If it’s less than that, it’s a bone-in strip steak.
Keeping in mind that there’s a limited amount of beef in each animal, if you’re purchasing a whole steer, and you want filets and strip, you won’t get T-bone or Porterhouse steaks. You can have EITHER t-bone steaks OR filets and strips. You can’t have both since all of those cuts come from the same section of beef.
There are plenty of other examples we could give like this where steaks have slightly different marketing names, but they’re really extremely similar cuts.
What if I purchase a whole cow?
If you order a whole beef, you have a lot more cutting options since you’re not cow-pooling with anyone else! You’re also sure to get the one-per-animal parts (like the tongue and heart) if you want them.
If I’m cow-pooling, will I get the one-per-animal parts?
Great question! Just like humans, there are certain parts of a cow that are one-per-animal, like the tongue and heart. If you order a quarter or half beef, it’s first-come-first-serve. If you want the heart or tongue, please tell us when you order and we’ll let you know if it’s still available for your cow.
Links to our favorite beef cut charts
One more thing!
Do you want to learn more about beef? Below are a few popular beef posts and recipes you may like. In addition, we have an entire ebook about beef that goes through purchasing and preparing beef from a farmers perspective.
- Buying a Cow. How Much Beef Is It?
- Is It Done Yet? Why Every Kitchen Needs a Digital Meat Thermometer and the Best One
- Dry Rub or Marinade for Steak? Know What’s Best
- Ebook – An Essential Guide to Beef: A Cattle Farm Shares How to Purchase & Prepare Beef
We have a weekly e-newsletter where we share about farm happenings, when our next beef availability is, and all things beef. When you do, you’ll get a cheat sheet with 9-must-ask questions before buying beef directly from a farmer.
Do you have other questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We love to talk beef!
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