Halloween in Harrold
The petite shoulder tender also has become overwhelmingly popular with chefs, and ranch steaks have a nutritional value close to a boneless, skinless chicken breast, he said.
Other new cuts – ribeye filets, ribeye caps and sirloin caps – also provide some new opportunities for retailers and consumers.
“There was a while in there that some of this was attempted and retailers couldn’t get much movement on some of the newer cuts,” Griffin said. “Now, with newer customers and those willing to try new things, they are starting to get movement, and customers are having good experiences and are willing to try them again.”
He offered a breakdown of new offerings from the four primal cuts:
The traditional chuck rolls are now cut into chuck-eye steaks, chuck-roll roasts, Denver and Sierra steaks, and the chuck flap.
From the rib section, there can be a rib roast, tomahawk steak, rib steak, rib-eye cap steak, rib-eye filet, rib-eye steak and prime rib.
The loin section now yields the short loin or tenderloin, and “we don’t see as many T-bones and porterhouse cuts anymore.” Strip or top loin steaks and tenderloin steaks are more common now.
The round traditionally would have been round steak. Now it is broken down into sirloin tip steak, top-round steak, eye-round steak and bottom-round steak. Other cuts are flank steak, skirt steak and inside skirt – all used in fajitas. The bottom sirloin flap is also used for fajitas.
“The traditional way of cutting the sirloin is to make whole sirloin steaks,” Griffin said. “But we don’t really see those at all anymore. The muscle fibers in the center of a sirloin steak run a little different than the cap. So, they have been taken apart and sold as top sirloin steaks, cap steaks and center cut sirloin steaks.”
The smaller size, he said, means it can be cut pretty thick, making it easier to cook to the right degree of doneness. The bottom part of the sirloin is the sirloin ball tip, tri-tip and flap.
“Tri-tip is used a lot in other regions of the U.S., and we are starting to use it more in Texas, because you can cut across the grain and make those cuts more tender,” Griffin said.
Ordering up your own beef cuts
Griffin said because of these new cuts, sometimes individuals who raise their own beef and take it to small processors don’t always get back what they were expecting.
“I’d get calls from guys who said the meat cutter stole all of my T-bones,” he said. “But when I’d ask if they got certain other cuts, they’d say ‘Yes’. You can’t have both out of one side of beef. You have to understand how the cuts are made.”
Knowing the newer cuts and where they come from helps to understand why the expected porterhouse steaks or racks of ribs are not in the beef packages when they are picked up after processing, he said.
Cattle have only 13 ribs, and they can be cut into several different retail/foodservice cuts, Griffin explained. For instance, chuck short ribs are cheaper than the counterpart ribs from the plate but contain the same flavorful muscle. Back ribs are less meaty, come from underneath the rib-eye roll and are less expensive.
“The chuck short ribs are used a lot for export, but they are otherwise cheap on the market because of the barbecue influence,” he said. “If you want to receive the plate short ribs, you can’t do a tomahawk steak, so you have to pick one or the other out of a side of beef.”
Other producers going to smaller processors who are still making the bone-in cuts using band saws and not really trimming out the muscle – cuts like we had in the 1960s – wonder “how can I get my guy to cut these new cuts,” Griffin said. All processors know where those muscles are, it just costs more and takes longer to do, so it is a matter of asking and paying for it.
Griffin’s advice for consumers with beef to process in the future is to discuss with the butcher/processor what you would like to have. His advice to processors is “be prepared because that’s how the consumer is eating today. The muscles haven’t changed, but we are using them in smaller, more utilizable pieces for the consumer.”
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