What is "Primal" Cut?





  Why is it important?

A primal cuts is a larger section of a carcass from which retail cuts are made. For example, the "check", a primal cut, is the shoulder portion of a beef carcass, from which retail cuts from the shoulder are made.


Knowing the part of the carcass from which a retail cut is made is a good indicator of the relative tenderness of the cut, and can help in deciding which method of cookery to use in preparing the cut. For example, the shoulder is a highly exercised part of the animal, and contains greater amounts of connective tissue. A cut from the chuck is not expected to be as tender as a cut from the loin or rib, which are not as heavily exercised, and contain lesser amounts of connective tissue. Likewise, the beef round is heavily exercised and therefore not expected to yield tender retail cuts.  It is also important to note that the more tender cuts usually cost more, so the primal cut name can also be helpful when making economic decisions.

Age of the animal can also have an effect on meat tenderness. For instance, lamb, pork and veal are marketed at a younger age than beef. Cuts from the ham (or leg) of pork, comparable in location to a beef round, tend to be quite tender. A leg of veal or lamb likewise tends to be tender. However shoulder cuts, in general, are less tender.

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