Many of our weekly beef customers are surprised when we run out of prime steaks. “I only like tenderloin,” they say. Believe me; we’d love to have more tenderloin to sell! Many people don’t realize what cuts and how many, a typical steer yields. In general, Americans are accustomed to finding a huge variety and selection of all types of foods in grocery stores, year round. Especially when one purchases from small, local producers who process only a few animals at a time, the availability of certain meat cuts may be limited.
When a beef is harvested, the carcass is cut in half lengthwise. After aging, the half is broken into primals: the hip, loin, rib, chuck, flank, plate, brisket and shank. The primals are then cut into subprimals and finally into the individual, retail cuts. The butcher has several options for his subprimal, when making the retail cuts. For instance, in the Rib, he can make rib steaks, ribeye steaks, standing rib roasts or prime rib. The subprimal can only yield certain combinations of retail cuts, you can’t get rib steaks AND prime rib!
Another consideration is the amount of retail cuts from each subprimal. The loin, where the “best” steaks come from constitutes about 17% of the total carcass, which is why there are only a few Porterhouse, T Bone, New York Strips and Sirloins available! The chuck comprises about 26% of the total carcass and provides chuck roasts, stew cubes, ground beef and cross rib roasts in larger quantities.
One of our typical Criollo animals will yield 8 each of the Filet, Porterhouse, T Bone and New York steaks. We cut the rib into all steaks, yielding about 20 of them. The top sirloin steaks will number around 10. There will be 12 chuck roasts, 4 cross ribs roast, 4 round tip roasts and 2 briskets, 2 tri-tip roasts. So you can see, there are more than just steaks!
A benefit of buying from your local beef producer is being able to source those rare cuts not found in the grocery store. In whole animal butchery, the entire beef is cut into as many usable parts as possible, with minimal waste. Super clean liver, sweetbreads, heart and tongue as well as the sought after butcher’s steak, can usually be obtained from the local ranch practicing whole animal butchery. Bones are available for making broth and fat and tallow for using in soap or suet. The animals are also usually processed one at a time, with no mixing of pieces of multiple animals in the ground beef, increasing the safety of the finished product.
So please support your local producers, step out of the usual and try a new cut of locally produced beef soon!