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Meat cutting and utilization of meat cuts


Large differences exist in the tenderness, juiciness and flavour of the various meat animal carcasses because of breeding, age, feeding and management. Within each animal carcasses and associated with the different muscles there are variations in tenderness that dictate how different cuts of meat should be prepared to yield the most palatable foods. Because of these differences in tenderness, juiciness and flavour, each meat cut should be merchandised according to its availability and palatability characteristics. Consequently, different prices should be charged for different cuts from the various meat animals so that consumers have choices. The tenderloin of beef is a relatively small cut and therefore of limited quantity but it is extremely tender and requires a minimum of cooking. Generally it is high-priced because of its high quality and consumer demand for a cut that is easy to prepare and serve. Roasts from the chuck or shoulder of beef are less tender than the tenderloin; however, when properly prepared by pot-roasting, they too will be tender, juicy, flavourful and will provide good nutritional value. Because there are more kilograms of chuck roast on any one beef carcass and because they require more time and effort to cook correctly, chuck roasts do not and should not demand the same high price per kilogram as tenderloin.

Throughout the world, countries have varied natural resources and capabilities for producing livestock and different methods must be used to utilize all meat products correctly and completely whether they are cut from cattle, goats, sheep, swine, deer or other animals and whether they come from the tender or less tender parts of those animals. In order to get the maximum eating satisfaction and also the maximum nutritional value, each cut must be matched with the correct cooking procedure. Loin cuts which are generally tender should be prepared by broiling or other dry-heat methods while cuts with considerable bone and connective tissue from the shanks should be either braised or simmered for stews and soups.

Comparative differences in various compositional aspects of marketweight beef, pork and lamb

Average live animal weight (kg)454–54495–10445
Age (months)3668–12
Dressing percentage (carcass/live weight)607050
Carcass weight (kg)272–31868–7323
Carcass composition (%)

Generally, meat animals should be maintained in an environment that permits optimum growth and development. Animals gaining weight rapidly are usually in good condition and the meat derived from their carcasses will be fatter, juicier and richer in flavour. Additionally, the amount of meat in proportion to hide, bone and offal will be greater.

The age to slaughter animals varies depending on many things. The highest quality beef comes from animals that are under 36 months of age. Old cows produce highly acceptable beef if properly fattened and processed. Depending on the calf and the feeding regime, calves are best slaughtered between three and 16 weeks of age. Hogs may be killed any time after they reach six weeks of age, but for the most profitable pork production may need to be fed for five to ten months. Sheep and goats may be killed anytime after six weeks, but the more desirable age is from six to 12 months.

All meat animal carcasses are composed of muscle, fat, bone and connective tissue. The chief edible and nutritive portion is the muscle or lean meat. The muscle is seldom consumed without some of the attached fat and connective tissue. The carcass composition of animals slaughtered after usual fattening periods is shown in Table 3. It can be noted that the carcass composition varies little between species and is some what dependent on the fatness of the animal at slaughter.

The lean of each meat animal carcass consists of about 300 individual and different muscles of which only about 25 can be separated out and utilized as single muscle or muscle combinations. The separated muscles are not all the same. They vary widely in palatability (tenderness, juiciness, flavour) depending on the maturity or age of the animal and the body location from which they were taken.

Generally, muscles of locomotion found in the extremities or legs are less tender and more flavourful than muscles that simply support the animal such as those found along the back. The latter are usually more tender and less flavourful. Other factors may influence palatability but maturity and body location are probably the most important.

Colours of the lean and fat are important characteristics of a normal, wholesome products. Most diseased or unnatural conditions will change the colour from what is considered normal for the species. Generally the colour of the fat will be from pure white to a creamy yellow for all animals. Pink or reddish fat probably means that the animal had a fever or was extremely excited prior to slaughter. The colour of the muscle tissues for normal product should be:

BeefBright cherry red
Goat meatLight pink to red
LambLight pink to red
PorkGreyish pink
VealLight pink to red
VenisonDark red

Almost always tissues from older animals are darker in colour. At times the fat on some carcasses from young animals will be dark yellow because of the breed which lacks the ability to convert yellow carotene to colourless vitamin A and/or because the animals have consumed large amounts of green forage. It is not uncommon for aged ruminant animals to have carcasses with yellow fat.

At times animals will suffer from stress prior to slaughter and signs of their reaction will be evident in the carcass. Stressed cattle often produce dark cutters in which the muscle is not the normal bright cherry red but rather is dark red and sticky. Hogs suffering from porcine stress syndrome (PSS) prior to slaughter may yield carcasses that are pale, soft and exudative (PSE) or dark, firm and dry (DFD). Exudative carcasses are watery and rapidly lose water. None of these conditions produced by ante-mortem stress renders the product inedible but both lower the palatability and eye appeal of the beef and pork and can be confused with other more serious disease conditions.



Four essential points when cutting beef (or any other meat animal carcass) are:

There are different ways to cut the fore- and hindquarters of beef depending on its use, the wishes of the consumers, and the quality of the carcass (Figs 55 and 56). Poor-quality meat is normally used for further processing, while higher-quality and thicker-fleshed carcasses are used as fresh meat in the form of steaks and roasts.

55. The beef carcass and its bones


Halving is done immediately after the animal has been dressed and every effort should be made to saw the carcass into equal sides through the centre of the backbone.


Quartering or ribbing down is the division of a side of beef between the twelfth and thirteenth ribs into fore-and hindquarters. One rib is usually left on the hindquarter to hold the shape of the loin and to make it easier to cut steaks.

56. The beef carcass and its cuts

Dividing between the twelfth and thirteenth ribs splits the carcass almost in quarters, usually with slightly heavier forequarters. Make this cut straight and neat. Locate the exact place between the ribs on the inside of the carcass and make the cut about 5 cm from the midline at the flank. The flank part should be left attached until the quarter is ready to be carried to the cutting table. Then saw the backbone, making the cut even with the incision that was made with the knife to produce a smooth and attractive appearances to the small end of the loin. Make this cut from the inside. The large muscle exposed when this cut is made is the “eye of beef” in which most of the quality characteristics of the meat can be seen including colour, marbling, firmness and texture. High-quality beef will have a bright cherry-red colour, some intramuscular fat or marbling, be firm to the touch and fine in texture.

When the person carrying the meat has a firm grip on the forequarter, the small strip of flesh holding the quarters together should be cut. With some practice and experience, one can learn to carry a forequarter easily by holding below the shank so that the full weight of the quarter is on the carrier's shoulder when it is cut down. By taking a step forward as the cut is being made, it is easier to have the quarter drop with the right proportion of weight on the shoulder. The right forequarter should be carried on the left shoulder and the left forequarter on the right shoulder. When placing the forequarter on the cutting table, always have the inside up.

Bone-in method

By far the easiest way to merchandise meat is to have some basic information relative to the bone and muscle structure of the carcass and to utilize an electric saw to cut up the whole carcass. This is now being done to a large extent by meat packers who cut out what is commonly referred to as a wholesale or primal cut such as a whole chuck (shoulder), rib, loin or round of beef. The cut may or may not be trimmed of some bone and fat and then vacuum-packaged and shipped to a retail store. The vacuum-packaging provides an anaerobic atmosphere and the refrigerated shelf-life of the product may be extended as much as two or three months. The store personnel need have only the slightest knowledge of meat cutting. The primal is positioned correctly and run across the saw in a prescribed fashion, the saw dust is scraped off, and the consumer-sized cut packaged for retail sale.

Common wholesale or primal cuts of beef from the forequarter are the square-cut chuck, shank, brisket, plate and rib, and from the hindquarter the flank, loin and round. The kidney knob consisting of kidney and fat is removed from the loin. Since the hindquarter contains a higher proportion of tender cuts, it is usually in greater demand and returns higher prices.

Forequarter. The first cut to make is between the fifth and sixth ribs counting from the neck back (Fig. 57). This cut is made parallel with the ribs and produces a cross-cut chuck consisting of a square-cut chuck (also called chuck and blade), foreshank and brisket. Next the foreshank and brisket are removed by cutting through the first sternal cartilage (the first soft segment of the breastbone), and making the cut almost parallel with the backbone of the carcass (Figs 58 and 71).

Foreshank. The foreshank is separated from the brisket by following the natural connective tissue seam between the muscles with a knife. The foreshank can then be sawn into small pieces to be used for soup stock or the lean may be removed and used for ground meat (Fig. 59).

Brisket. The brisket, boned and made into a roll, can be used either as a pot roast or can be cured (corned) (Fig. 73).

Square-cut chuck. This wholesale cut contains the first five ribs of the forequarter and may be sawn into steaks or roasts. Several cuts are usually made across the bottom or shank end of the chuck resulting in arm steaks or roasts (Fig. 60). The chuck is then turned and cuts are made parallel with the ribs, resulting in blade steaks and roasts (Fig. 61). If the carcass is of high quality and thickly fleshed, steaks cut from the rib end of the chuck or across the arm bone will be highly desirable. Blade cuts to be used as roasts should contain two or three ribs and should be trimmed as for standing rib roasts, although for convenience in carving all bones may be removed. The portions nearest the neck usually have more connective tissue and are recommended for simmering rather than for steaks and roasts.

57. Dividing a forequarter (lower part comprising square-cut chuck, foreshank and brisket and upper part comprising rib and short plate)59. Foreshank cut into small pieces
58. Removing foreshank and brisket (left) from square-cut chuck60. Arm steaks
61. Blade steaks

Only the neck remains to be processed. It is usually severed at a point where it enlarges to meet the shoulder. The neck contains a large amount of bone and connective tissue and is generally used for simmering, corning or grinding. All bloody portions should be trimmed off before other cutting is done.

Short plate. The cut to divide the short plate from the rib is made 18–25 cm from the inside edge of and parallel with the chine or backbone (Fig. 62). This division varies according to the thickness of the carcass. With a thick carcass, the cut may be made further down the ribs, and with a thin carcass nearer the spinal column.

The plate may be used for different purposes, but it is commonly used for stews or further processing. Short ribs, which are suited for broiling, are also cut from the upper portion of the plate, usually about 5–8 cm in length (Fig. 63). If the plate is to be used for corning, all of the ribs should be removed. If used for stews, the ribs can be left in and the plate sawn crosswise into small pieces. The plate can also be boned and the meat used for ground meat or sausage products. Before cutting the plate in any way, remove the tough membrane lining the inner portion below where the ribs join the breastbone.

Rib. The rib cut is made up of the rear seven ribs in the forequarter. This is the most valuable piece of meat from the forequarter because it is the most tender and has the least amount of bone. It has a large bundle of muscle fibre that runs parallel to the backbone.

There are several different ways to prepare the rib cut for cooking as a roast. It may also be used for steaks (Fig. 64). It may be prepared as a bonein, folded or rolled roast. If prepared as a bone-in roast, the superior spinous processes of the vertebrae or featherbones are loosened from the meat and then cut off with a saw. In making this cut, keep the knife as close to the bone as possible to avoid removing the thin lining that surrounds the bundle of muscle fibre next to the bone. With the saw, cut across the ribs at intervals of about 8 cm, just deep enough to cut through the ribs. Also remove the yellow connective tissue or ligament found between the outer covering and the layer of muscle.

The only difference between bone-in and a folded rib roast is that a small 5-cm piece of rib is removed so that the thin end of the cut may be folded and skewered to the heavy portion. This simply makes a neater, more compact package.

Hindquarter. Place the hindquarter on the cutting table with the inside of the carcass up because the first cut made is to remove the kidney knob from the inside of the loin. (However, loosening of meat cuts is also possible from the hanging beef side or beef quarter.)

62. Dividing the short plate (left) from the rib (right)
63. Cutting short ribs from the blade
64. Cutting rib steaks

Kidney knob. Begin removing the kidney fat at the lower end and loosen it with a knife where it is attached to the loin, leaving a thin covering on the inside of the loin and being careful not to cut into the tenderloin muscle.

Flank. Remove the flank next by cutting into the scrotum or udder, following the round muscle and cutting close enough so little of the lean meat is taken from in front of the stifle joint. Continue cutting along and below the outer portion of the line of the kidney fat, or in a straight line to leave 10 cm of the thirteenth rib in the flank. This cut may vary with the thickness of the carcass and is lowest in thick or heavy carcasses (Figs 65 and 66).

The tough membrane covering the inside of the flank must be removed by cutting off a thin strip on the lower side and then peeling off the membrane. A small piece of lean meat on the inside of the end portion of the flank, weighing 1.2–1.4 kg, is known as the flank steak (Fig. 67). This heavy bundle of muscle fibres is dry and if used for steak is often scored on both sides, marinated or sliced thin to make it more tender and desirable as a steak. The entire defatted flank may be used for stew or ground beef or rolled around stuffing and pot-roasted.

Round. The round and loin are divided at about the fourth sacral joint in the spinal column to almost parallel with the back end of the round, or to about 5 cm in front of the stifle joint (Fig. 68). The aim is to cut the tip of the ball-and-socket bone in the hip joint, cutting off a piece about 2.5 cm in diameter. The round includes the rump, round cushion (consisting of knuckle piece and inside round muscle or topside), outside round muscle (also called bottom round muscle or silverside) and hind shank.

Remove the rump by cutting just below the exposed pelvic or aitchbone. The rump usually has a large amount of bone (Fig. 69). The most desirable piece of rump is cut from the upper portion and is composed of eye and bottom round muscles. The removal of bone and tying the rump means that it requires less oven space and is easier to carve.

Round steak is cut in comparatively thin slices from the full round after removal of the rump. The choicest round steaks are cut from the centre section.

The remaining portion is made up of the hind shank and the piece called the heel of the round. The heel of round is used as a pot roast and is removed by cutting close to the bone and tearing away as much meat as possible from the backside. The shank can be sawn into pieces to be used for soup stock.

65. Removing the flank on the cutting table (sawing through 13th rib after cutting through soft parts)67. Cutting off the flank steak
66. Removing the flank (hanging position)68. Separating the round and the loin
69. Cutting off the rump (left)

Loin. The loin is usually completely sawn into steaks beginning at the large end. Sirloin steaks are cut first and the first three or four are known as wedge or round bone sirloin steaks. These are the least desirable pieces of the sirloin. The last sirloin is cut where the hip-bone is separated from the spinal column and the steak cut there is known as the hip-or pin-bone sirloin steak.

The small portion of the loin known as the short loin is the source of Tbone steaks. This area contains the two most tender muscles in the whole carcass, namely, the loin eye muscle above the bone and the tenderloin muscle below the bone. T-bone steaks are cut to about 10 cm from the end of the short loin. This tip portion can either be used as a roast or be cut into rib steaks. Rib steak from the short loin is identified by the piece of the thirteenth rib remaining on it (Fig. 70).

When beef is to be cured and dried, pieces should be taken from either the chuck or the round. If the round is used, remove the rump and follow the procedure for muscle boning. If taken from the chuck, use the heavy muscle lying over the outside of the shoulder-blade commonly known as shoulder clod.

Muscle-boning method

One excellent approach to the cutting up of meat animal carcasses which is becoming more popular and utilized by large meat processors is the procedure commonly referred to as “muscle-boning”. While this procedure is particularly adaptable to large carcasses such as beef, it can be successfully used on carcasses or cuts of any size. Muscle-boning is also popular among hunters who do not have meat saws but who want to cut up a whole carcass with a knife while removing the bone that would otherwise fill valuable freezer space. Any animal carcass with a complete and thick layer of subcutaneous or cover fat would have to have most of the fat removed in order to expose the muscles. Once the fat is removed, a boning knife can be used to separate each large individual muscle or group of muscles. This is done along the seams of connective tissue that encases each muscle. Once separated the muscle mass is then cut from the bone, thus the term “muscle-boning”. The advantages of this procedure are numerous; however, the principal reasons for using it are to obtain small-sized portions for sale or preparation; to permit each muscle or muscle combination to be treated or prepared according to its individual characteristics of size, tenderness, flavour or fibre orientation; and to remove much of the bone and fat that would otherwise take up packaging and storage space.

70. Loin cut into steaks: left, sirloin steaks; middle, T-bone steaks; right, rib steaks

Directions for muscle-boning a side of beef are given here. Initially for muscle-boning, the side of beef is divided into fore-and hindquarters as described for the bone-in method. Also, both the fore-and hindquarters are placed on the cutting table with the inside up. One muscle-boning method is as follows:

Forequarter. The forequarter is sawn into square-cut chuck, foreshank, brisket, rib and plate as in the bone-in method (Fig. 71, see also Figs 57, 58 and 62).

Foreshank. The foreshank has attached to it, behind the elbow joint, a relatively large, thick piece of muscle. This is usually cut out by following the connective tissue seams and produces a fairly large triangular-shaped cut correctly identified as boneless arm roast (Fig. 72). The remainder of the foreshank can be sawn into soup bones or can be separated into bone and soft tissue with a knife. The soft tissue is composed of muscle, fat and a large amount of connective tissue which is best utilized as ground meat.

Brisket. The ribs and sternum are lifted from the inside of the brisket (Fig. 73) and the excess fat is removed. The brisket can either be rolled and tied to be used as a pot roast or it can be cured.

Square-cut chuck. The neck is sawn from the chuck and trimmed of bone, fat and the large prescapular lymph gland. The boneless neck can be utilized as a pot roast; however, it is more often cut into cubes (Fig. 74) for stew or ground meat.

From the large remaining portion of the chuck, the ribs and feather bones (superior spinous processes) are removed with a knife (Fig. 75) and the heavy, yellow connective tissue or elastin is removed from the top of the cut. With a knife the thick portion is then separated into outside and inside portions by following the inside or smooth side of the blade-bone (Fig. 76) which is then lifted from the outside piece along with what remains of the arm bone. The inside portion which contains some of the rib eye muscle is often rolled and tied to be used as a pot roast (Fig. 77). There is a part of the outside chuck, a muscle that somewhat resembles the tenderloin muscle in size and shape but not in tenderness, which is often cut into steaks known as chuck fillets (Fig. 78).

71. Forequarter cut into five pieces prior to boning73. Removing ribs and sternum from brisket
72. Cutting boneless arm roast from foreshank74. Cutting the boneless neck into cubes

Rib. The rib is prepared by first sawing across the rib bones to facilitate the removal of both the backbone and the ribs with the knife (Figs 79 and 80). Another procedure often used to bone out a rib is carefully with a sharp knife to loosen the small strip of meat found between the ribs. The ribs are then loosened by cutting close to the bone and removed by striking with a blunt instrument. After removing all bones and the heavy yellow connective tissue, the meat may be rolled into a tight bundle with the thin portion on the outside and tied tightly. Preparing ribs in this way makes for convenient carving and requires less cooking and storage space. About 25 percent of the initial rib weight is lost when the bones are removed. The boneless rib may also be sliced into boneless rib steaks (Fig. 81).

75. Removing the ribs and feather bones from the square-cut chuck77. Inside portion of the chuck rolled and tied
76. Subdividing the thick portion of the chuck along the inside of the blade-bone into inside and outside portion78. Cutting outside chuck into fillets

Plate. After the heavy connective tissue lining is peeled from the inside of the plate, the bones are removed and the lean meat cubed for stew or prepared for grinding in a way similar to the trimming of the brisket.

Hindquarter. As a first step, the kidney and accompanying fat are removed from the hindquarter carefully with a knife so as not to cut into the tenderloin muscle. The hindquarter is then separated into flank, round and loin as described in the bone-in method.

79. Sawing across the rib bones81. Cutting boneless rib steaks
80. Removing backbone and rib bone from rib82. Removing the pelvic bone

Flank. Remove the flank by cutting into the scrotum or udder, following the round muscle and cutting close enough so that little lean meat is taken from the front of the stifle joint. Continue cutting along and below the outer portion of the line of the kidney fat in a straight line and saw through the thirteenth rib. Again the flank steak is removed as described in the bone-in method (Figs 65 and 66).

Round. The round and loin are separated with a saw as described in the bone-in method (Fig. 68). The pelvic bone is removed from the round and the muscle sections of the round are exposed (Fig. 82).

83. Tip or knuckle piece being separated from round85. Silverside or bottom round muscle being separated from round
84. Topside or inside round muscle being separated from round86. Hind shank

Muscle-boning the round means that the large muscle masses of the round are separated from each other by following the natural connective tissue seams. In front of the stifle joint, the tip or knuckle piece is removed (Fig. 83), then the topside or inside round muscle (Fig. 84), and then the remaining silverside or bottom round muscles (Fig. 85). The latter is often divided and the eye of the round removed separately. All of the separated muscles may then be used as roasts or sliced into steaks. Muscle-boning is particularly useful when beef is prepared for roasting for large groups such as pit barbecuing.

Hind shank. The hind shank, somewhat like the foreshank, has a large muscle group attached to it that can be removed and utilized as a pot roast. This cut is sometimes referred to as the “duck” of beef (Fig. 86).

Loin. The tenderloin muscle is carefully cut from the inside of the loin (Fig. 87) and usually cut into individual steaks (Fig. 88). The remainder of the loin is then sawn just in front of the hip-bone into the short loin and sirloin sections. The bone is removed from the sirloin which is a somewhat complicated procedure because the pelvic bone is fused with the backbone (Fig. 89). The short loin is boned and the muscle that is known as boneless top loin (Fig. 90) is usually cut into boneless top loin steaks (Fig. 91).

On-the-rail boning

This is a modification of the muscle-boning method. Typical for on-the-rail boning is the hanging position of the hindquarter or the entire beef side (Fig. 92) during the boning procedure. The removal of the different meat cuts from the hanging carcass is considerably facilitated. Beef cuts can easily be pulled downwards under their own weight after cutting them free along their natural connective tissue seams. Special hooks with handles used by the operators are an additional aid for the correct fixation of the cuts during boning (Fig. 92).

On-the-rail boning is the most hygienic way of meat cutting. Contamination by hands of operators, tools, cutting-boards, etc. is less than with other methods.

The technique is also suitable for smaller operations. Final trimming of the meat cuts takes place on cutting tables as usual.

87. Cutting the tenderloin from the inside of the loin90. Boning the short loin
88. Tenderloin cut into individual steaks91. Cutting boneless top loin steaks
89. Removing the bone from the sirloin

When meat cuts are produced by muscle-boning it is often difficult to identify them, primarily because traditionally the size and shape of the accompanying bone has been used as the major means of identification. Also, the traditional shape of muscle in a cut of meat is often determined because of its attachment to bone. Many conventional cuts of meat combine muscles because of their association, size and proximity to bone or general location. The basic principle of merchandising meat is to separate the tender from the less tender and to sell each according to its palatability characteristics and its possible method of preparation. Muscle-boning facilitates this type of merchandising.


Halving is done immediately after the animal has been dressed and every effort should be made to saw the carcass into equal sides through the centre of the backbone. The side to be cut should be laid on the cutting table with the inside up (Figs 93, 94 and 95).

92. On-the-rail boning of entire beef side. Removing strip loin together with rump

The primal cuts of pork are: ham, fore-end or forequarter, loin and belly.

Hind foot. The hind foot is removed by sawing through the hock joint at a right angle to the long axis of the leg (Fig. 96).

Ham. The ham may be removed in several ways to make either long-cut or short-cut hams. One procedure (short-cut) is to locate the division between the second and third (or the third and fourth) sacral vertebrae and saw perpendicularly to the long axis of the ham (Fig. 97). After the bone has been severed with the saw, the knife is used to complete the removal of the ham. The ham is further trimmed by removal of the tail bone on one side and the flank on the other side. Commonly a skinned ham is produced by removal of three-fourths of the skin and fat from the rump end (Fig. 98). For the production of special cured dried hams the skin is left on (Fig. 99).

93. The pork carcass and its bones

In order to obtain a long-cut ham the division is made between the last two (fifth and sixth) lumbar vertebrae. The long cut is composed of a rump or chump portion and a leg portion comprising centre section and shank portion. Nowadays more processors are removing the bones thus fabricating a boneless rump (chump) and a boneless ham. The ham is commonly merchandised in smaller portions (topside, silverside, thick flank, shank).

94. The pork carcass and its cuts

95. Pork carcass split into left and right side97. Short cut of ham
98. Removing skin and fat from the rump end of the ham
96. Severing the hind foot
 99. Pork leg cut into ham, shank and foot

The cutting procedure of the ham is as follows. Remove tail bone and aitch bone and cut the rump off. Peel back the rind and associated fat to expose the topside muscle on the interior side of the leg. Separate the topside by following the natural seam between it and the silverside (outside portion of leg) and thick flank (front position of leg). The topside can then be sliced into steaks. This produces between five and six lean steaks depending on the thickness and weight required by the customer. The next step is to remove the leg bone (femur). The thick flank (knuckle) is cut from the silverside by following the natural seam. Remove the kneecap (patella) and the internal fat deposits before further preparation of the thick flank, e.g. for diced pork or steaks.

Forefoot. The forefoot is removed by sawing through the junction between the foreshank and the forefoot bone at a right angle to the length of the foot. This foot contains some muscle and is therefore more desirable than the hind foot for food.

Fore-end. Considerable variation exists as to where the fore-end is removed. Generally one to three ribs are left on the pork fore-end. Locate the division between the third and fourth ribs from the head end and saw perpendicularly to the length of the backbone. The fore-end is trimmed of the hock which is cut off about halfway up the leg and about two-thirds of the skin and fat is removed from the butt or top end. Additionally the neckbone (all cervical and three thoracic vertebrae) and the jowl or cheek meat are removed (Fig. 100). The jowl is removed by a straight cut parallel to the cut that separates the fore-end from the side just behind the site where the ear was removed (Fig. 101). The fore-end may be divided into two cuts (spare-rib, also called blade Boston, and hand, also called arm picnic) by sawing just below the exposed lower end of the blade-bone parallel to the top of the shoulder (Fig. 102). The spare-rib can be sliced into steaks or used as a roast. It can easily be made into a boneless cut by removing the corner of the blade-bone.

Besides this method some other ways of cutting and boning the pork foreend exist. In order to obtain boneless cuts (shoulder and neck-end) from the fore-end the following technique is recommended. Seam the shoulder carefully from the rest of the side, leaving the rind and associated fat behind. Release the under-blade steak and remove the blade-bone (scapula) and the shoulder-bone (humerus). Separate the main muscle block from the smaller group. The smaller group, after trimming the fat off, can be used for dicing. The main shoulder block should be trimmed of excessive connective tissue. It can be separated further into the blade and feather muscles and the main shoulder muscle. These can then be sliced into a number of boneless steaks. The group of muscles on either side of the spinous processes of the neckbone and the two or three following segments of the backbone is called the neck-end. The neck-end is loosened from the backbone and after trimming off excessive rind, fat and any adhering ragged edges it can be cut into attractive steaks.

100. Pork shoulder (middle), jowl or cheek meat (left), neck bone (right below)102. Dividing the shoulder into two cuts (left, spare-rib; right, hand or arm picnic)
101. Removing the jowl or cheek meat

Lion. The middle or centre section of the pork side is divided into loin and belly by a straight cut from the edge of the tenderloin muscle on the ham end through a point on the front rib tight against the protruding edge of the split backbone (Fig. 103). The fat back (skin and excess fat) is removed from the loin so that a complete fat cover about 0.5 cm thick remains. Starting along the backbone side at the shoulder end, cut and lift the fat over the curve of the loin muscles without cutting into the lean (Fig. 104). The loin can be roasted whole, cut into smaller roasts or cut into chops. Shoulder, rib, loin and sirloin chops are made from the loin. Chops for broiling or frying should be cut 1.3–1.9 cm thick. Thicker chops may be made and a pocket cut into them for stuffing (Fig. 105).

Belly. Separate the spare-ribs from the belly by cutting closely underneath the ribs beginning at the flank end (Fig. 106). Prepare the bacon side from the belly by removing any thin or ragged pieces of lean. Turn the belly over and remove the lower edge with a straight cut just inside of the teat line. Trim the flank edge of the belly to square the whole piece to prepare it for curing.



This procedure as described may also be followed for the processing of deer, goats, sheep or other animal carcasses of similar size.


All lamb carcasses should be promptly chilled and kept at a low temperature (-2° to 2°C) until cut and utilized. Do not permit lamb carcasses to freeze within a day after slaughter or the meat may toughen. Lamb carcasses can be cut into retail cuts after they have been chilled for 24 to 48 hours.


Lamb carcasses are generally not split into halves after dressing because they are not thick enough in any location to create cooling problems. Begin cutting the lamb carcass by removing the thin cuts, i.e. flank, breast and foreleg. Lay the carcass on the cutting table and mark one side from the cod or udder fat in front of the hind leg to the elbow joint (Figs 107, 108 and 109). After removing the thin cuts from both sides, remove the kidneys, kidney fat and diaphragm (Fig. 110). Next the carcass is turned over and the neck removed either in thin slices to be braised or in one piece to be added to stew or to be boned and ground.

106. Separating spare-ribs from the belly
103. Dividing the centre section of the pork side into loin and belly
104. Removing the fat cover of the loin
105. Smaller roasts and chops from the loin

The trimmed carcass can then be separated into four primal cuts, each with different characteristics. A cut between the fifth and sixth rib removes the shoulder. Another cut between the twelfth and thirteenth (last) rib separates the rib from the loin. The loin and legs are separated just in front of the hip bones by cutting through the back where the curve of the leg muscles blends into the loin (Fig. 111).

107. The lamb carcass and its bones

Legs. Split the legs through the centre of the backbone (Fig. 112). Trim off the flank and cod or udder fat. Utilize the saw and knife to remove the backbone from the leg. The leg may be further trimmed by cutting through the knee-joint which is located about halfway between where the muscles of the shank end and the muscles of the lower leg begin. Work the knife and cut through the joint (Fig. 113). Several sirloin chops may be cut from the loin end of the leg. Legs may either be prepared with the bone in or the bones completely removed and the leg rolled and tied.

108. The lamb carcass and its cuts

Loin. The loin is usually split through the middle of the backbone and chops are cut perpendicularly to the backbone (Fig. 114). Lamb chops are cut about 2.5 cm thick. Double or “English” chops are made from a loin that has not been split. Remove the fell or connective tissue covering before cooking chops (Fig. 115).

Rib. The rib of lamb is prepared by sawing through the ribs on both sides of the backbone (Fig. 116). The main portion of the backbone is then removed with a knife. Rib chops are easily made by cutting between the ribs. Remove the fell before cooking the chops. The breast portion may be barbecued in one piece or made into riblets by cutting between the ribs (Fig. 117).

Shoulder. After splitting through the backbone, the shoulder may be roasted as is, made into chops, or boned and rolled into a roast. Arm chops should be made first by cutting parallel to the surface where the foreleg and breast were removed. Blade chops are made by cutting between ribs and sawing through the blade- and backbones. To prepare a boneless shoulder, first remove the ribs and backbone by cutting closely underneath the ribs, backbone and neck vertebrae. Next from the rear surface cut along the inside of the blade-bone to expose it and the armbone. Cut along the edges of the bones and remove them (Fig. 118). Roll the meat and tie it securely with clean twine. The boneless shoulder may also be made into a pocket roast and stuffed with ground lamb or other dressing. The edges of the pocket roast are stitched together.

109. Removing the thin flank cuts110. Kidneys, kidney fat and diaphragm removed from carcass

Shanks. Both the fore- and hind shanks when removed can be barbecued, cut into pieces for stew or boned and the meat ground.

111. Lamb carcass separated into four primal cuts (shoulder, rib, loin, legs)113. Separating the shank from the leg
112. Splitting the legs

Lean trimmings. Lean trimmings of lamb in chunks are suitable for stews or to be marinated and used for special roasts. Other lean trimmings can be ground and used as one would prepare ground veal or beef.


Chilled meat is usually kept for the sale in refrigerated display cabinets, either unwrapped or portioned and packaged for self-service outlets. Refrigerated display cabinets may have fan-assisted convection and/or natural convection. Fan-assisted types are better able to maintain a lower temperature as they are less affected by draughts. Cabinets should be stacked to maintain a good air flow around all meat (Fig. 119).

114. Cutting chops from the loin116. Splitting the rib along the backbone
115. Removing the connective tissue covering the loin117. Rib chops and breast portion

Do not store or display unwrapped cooked and raw meat together. Use separate refrigerators, display cabinets etc. to avoid cross-contamination. Raw-meat exudate on to cooked meat gives an explosive bacterial growth.

Simple packaging of fresh meat with plastic foil has become very popular with the availability of suitable and inexpensive film. The main objective of simple packaging is to provide hygienically protected portioned meat for self-service retail outlets. But the meat portions must also satisfy the customers' preference for bright red fresh meat. This colour is due to the pigment myoglobin loosely binding oxygen to form oxymyoglobin. For this colour to develop and be maintained, the wrapping film must have a high-oxygen permeability. To avoid desiccation of the cut surface, the film should have a low-moisture permeability. After a time the cut surface becomes more brown as a result of myoglobin binding the oxygen more tightly to form metmyoglobin. This may take up to three days depending on the temperature, the number of bacteria and other conditions.

Simple packaging for retail sale in self-service outlets usually involves placing the meat portion in a plastic tray and overwrapping with a clear plastic film (Fig. 120). Plastic trays are more hygienic than cardboard. The portions cut should be based on local demand and only a day's sales should be cut at a time.

118. Boneless shoulder (left) and ribs, backbone, blade- and armbone (right)119. Chill display cabinets should have a clearly visible thermometer which is set to 0°± 1°C. Meat trays should not be stacked on top of each other

The principal object of this type of simple packaging from a hygiene point of view is to reduce contamination from airborne micro-organisms. High standards of hygiene are required in the cutting and packaging operations. On large pieces of meat the bacteria mainly colonize the outer surfaces. When meat is cut even with a clean knife they will be spread on to the freshly cut moist surface and multiply rapidly. This is not an argument for relaxing hygiene standards, rather it underlines the need not to add to the bacterial load by further contamination.

All surfaces and tools in the cutting and packaging room must be kept thoroughly clean. Packaging materials should be stored in hygienic conditions protected from dust and attack from insects or vermin. It is most important that personnel involved in cutting and packaging pay particular attention to personal hygiene as they are the most likely source of food-poisoning pathogens which may survive better in the package environment than on unpackaged meat. This is in part due to the packaging preventing surface desiccation. The moist surface favours bacterial growth as does the high relative humidity that builds up within the pack.

120. Overwrapping meat in a tray with clear film is a simple form of packaging suitable for self-service retail outlets121. Minced meat has a short shelf-life as the surface microorganisms are spread throughout the product and the surface area is increased

It is important to retard bacterial growth by maintaining a low temperature during the display life of the packs. Overwrapping actually increases the meat temperature as the layer of trapped air acts as an insulator. Heat generated by light warms the upper surface. Meat should be thoroughly cooled before packaging to help maintain a low temperature during its display life.

Mincing meat spreads bacteria on the surface all through the meat which therefore has a shorter shelf-life than cuts. Mince may be packaged and overwrapped but the mincer must be kept scrupulously clean and the packs kept well chilled (Fig. 121). Only small quantities of mince should be prepared at a time.

Cooked meats, which typically have much lower bacteria counts than fresh, are more open to attack from airborne micro-organisms as these will be faced with little competition. Packaging is therefore particularly beneficial in preventing this type of contamination for cooked meats.

Bacteria introduced during cutting and packaging face little competition and may be of the food-poisoning type if personal hygiene is poor. If very high standards of hygiene cannot be maintained then a pasteurizing treatment after packaging will be necessary. Even this, however, will not guarantee destroying Bacillus and Clostridium spp. if these have been introduced.


Primarily because of natural tenderness or lack of tenderness, different cooking procedures are utilized to prepare the various cuts of meat correctly. Tender cuts are best cooked with dry heat, as by broiling, roasting or pan broiling. Less tender cuts are tenderized by cooking with moist heat. Connective tissue is softened and made tender by cooking slowly in moisture.

Temperature control is important in meat cookery. Meat loses moisture, fat and other substances such as soluble proteins during cooking. Cooking losses can be minimized by controlling the cooking temperature and the final internal temperature of the meat. Higher oven and higher internal temperatures increases shrinkage. Whenever possible a meat thermometer should be used to determine accurately the degree of doneness of meat. Time and temperature guides can be used to ascertain doneness, but cooking time is affected by fat, bone and moisture content and the shape and size of the cut. The basic types of meat cookery follow.


Broiling is recommended for all tender cuts and for best results:


Pan-broiling is recommended for tender cuts suitable for broiling. For best results:


Roasting is recommended for large, tender cuts. Some beef cuts suitable for roasting are rib and top sirloin roasts. For best results:


Pan-frying is usually recommended for tender cuts 2.5 cm thick or less. For best results:


This method is best used for less tender cuts such as beef round or chuck steak, pot roast, stew or short ribs. For best results:

Braising with large cuts is often called pot-roasting and with thin cuts may be known as Swissing.


This method consists of cooking a small amount of meat with a large amount of water. For best results the container should be tightly covered and the meat cooked slowly below the boiling point until tender. This method is used for the production of soups to which vegetables, grains or pasta products may be added.

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