Cuts and classification of beef

The cutting and naming of the parts not only depend on the species of the animal but also on the country. The same animal can be dismembered and exploded in a different way according to the gastronomic custom and according to the food regulations of the country.



The types of beef are currently classified by age at:
Veal: usually it is the animal, male or female with an age between the two and twelve months. If you continue to feed from breast milk up to 8 months, it is called a milk or milch calf. Its meat is very tender with little fat content and lots of water. Blanquecina, of soft and delicate flavor, more pronounced the older the animal possesses. Easy to digest.
Añojo: Male or female with an age around 1-2 years. When it is already fed of feed and pastures its meat acquires a color more pink and a flavor more intense than the veal.
Novillo: male and female between 24 and 48 months. Its color is more pronounced, more red and its fat more yellowish. It is tastier, but it begins to lose the tenderness of the meat mentioned before but with more flavor.
Cebón: Male of castrated male less than 48 months old. Its color is red and its meat more brown, for many, one of the tastiest meats.
Older cattle: In this category we find animals older than 48 months, classified according to their sex. The older female is called cow meat, while the male castrated is Ox, and the Bull are only fighting. Have in common a lesser degree of tenderness but an extra contribution of fat that makes them very juicy meats. Older cattle are the less common type of meat in our market, except for the ox, although the authenticity of the ox would occasionally be debated. Its nutritional properties are greater, although in general the beef is a very nutritious food, which depending on the cut, will offer different nutritional values. The cow is usually imported or processed in elaborations derived from processed meat products such as hamburgers.

In addition to the above, it is also interesting to distinguish the different cuts of the bovine cutting and its commercial category which we expose below.



There are five categories: extra, first A, first B, second and third.

Extra Category:

One of the most valued cuts is the sirloin, located on the inner side of the lower spine, can be divided between parts: head (the Châteubriand), center (tournedos) and tip (filet-migñon) as well as other smaller parts like ear, cord and rosary. If it goes whole, it is cooked in the oven, the tournedos grilled and the filet-grilled or sautéed. A prolonged roast is not recommended.
Sirloin is also cut from the back of the cow, just past the loin (a.k.a the short loin). Although, not as tender as the loin cuts, the sirloin is still a very popular tender cut of beef. The sirloin contains the top sirloin, bottom sirloin, and center cut sirloin steaks, as well as the tri-tip steak, filet of sirloin, and the ball tip roast. Sirloin is best cooked by grill, but can also be broiled, sautéed, or pan-fried.

Sirloin cuts:

  • Steak (In: Beefsteak, Bifteck): It is the cut of a fillet of the thickest end of the sirloin.
    The Marchioness of Parabere, in her book “The Complete Kitchen” said that it was the only part of the beef that really was called steak, but other works do not certify it and call steaks other than steaks. She indicates that the ideal thing is not to open this steak in grilling on an iron or grill surrounded and tied with a string.
  • The next cut is the known Chateaubriand, a cut of about 800 g. Depending on the sirloin you could get a couple of pretty and “cookable” fillets in such a way that they were about 5 or 6 cm thick and the meat can be well made inside.
  • The next cut is the Turnedo, fillet of round shape of about 5 to 8 cm in diameter and of variable thickness, but that will not be less than 3 or 4 cm. It is also recommended to tie them in their preparation so that they retain the form, but it is not obligatory.
    There are two characteristics that define the tournedos. One is that originally the tournedo was not grilled or grilled, but it was sautéed in butter. Today is more common if the other. The second is that he always has a last name. That is to say, that all the recipes of tournedo, are associated to the name the sauce or garrison that accompanies it, therefore there is no preparation of tournedo as such.
    The medallion would be the next cut, but it is nothing more than a tournedo, something smaller and cut finer. There is no substantial difference.
  • They are also sometimes known as “Heart of Sirloin”.
  • And finally we arrive at the other end of the sirloin, from where we will get the Filet Mignon or small steak.
    This sirloin steak would be recognized because when finished in tip, the cut when preparing it would have a triangle shape. If the sirloin was large perhaps two of them could be obtained.

Loin: The loin is cut from the back of the cow, typically a portion of the hindquarter directly behind the ribs. It is one of the most tender and desirable cuts of beef. The loin is best known for producing filet mignon, porterhouse steak, and the T-bone steak. However, it also contains the KC strip, tenderloin roast, and the shell steak. Loin cuts are best cooked over dry heat such as on a grill. Loin, very tender, juicy and tasty meat, ideal for frying, grilling, grilled or grilled. Two parts are distinguished: The high loin is the front part of the loin. It is a clean, juicy and tender meat that joins the needle with the fifth or seventh rib and its cuts are highly valued. With the boned cut the familiar roast-beef is elaborated and with the bones you will enjoy the succulent steaks and the villagodio (first it is given a plate stroke to caramelizar the outside and ends in the oven). The tenderloin is extracted for example, steaks are the steaks that are between the ribs and that are usually cooked to the plate. Also chops that are cooked fried, roasted or grilled.

First A:

All the pieces are in the back room of the animal:
Tapilla, is a piece of small size. Its narrow part is as juicy as the sirloin, it can be prepared to the ember or in fillets and escalopines to the iron or frying pan. Cut very good for fillets, without infiltrations of fat resulting a little dry, ideal to batter. Also for Paupietes (rolled fillets with or without filling, which are bound if they are fat)
Hip. The upper part of the hind leg is divided into a corner, stonecutter and heart. It is a juicy cut, tender and low fat, highly valued also for grilling, will be tender if they are well cut, perpendicular to the fiber. It is used for fillets, scallops and the so-called rumpsteak, which is prepared on the grill.
Round. The round, which receives this name by its form, is a tender meat, without nerves and with little fat, is something dry according to its elaboration, but less than the contra. Accepts roasts, stews, mechados and in the elaboration of products with minced meat because it is something dry because it has little fat and is usually used whole to braise it or mecharla it.
Babilla. This ovoid-shaped cut is juicier the closer it is to the hip. From this part you get good medallions and fillets ideal for all types of cooking. The part closest to the knee is harder and dry and is used to cook or cook whole to braise it, chopped into stew.
Against, it is dry so it usually goes whole grilled, braised for fillets and cut into stews.

The shank is the leg of the cow and is one of the toughest meats. This is due to the fact that the leg muscle is constantly used, creating a tough, sinewy cut. Therefore, it is one of the less popular, but also one of the cheapest. The Shank doesn’t yield very many cuts of meet, just the shank or the shank cross cut. It is also used in very low fat ratios of ground beef. The shank is best cooked over a long period of time and in liquid. It is best in soups, stews, or to make beef stock.

Round or Rump: It  is a lean cut of meat with very little fat. It is located at the back of the cow near the rear leg. Like the Shank, the round is a tough cut due to the constant use of the cow’s legs. Despite the round or rump’s toughness, it produces quite a few different cuts of meat that are quite popular. Some of the more common cuts are: rump roast/steak, top round roast/steak, bottom round roast/steak, eye of round roast/steak, and the sirloin tip center roast/steak. Round cuts are best braised or roasted with low levels of moisture.

First B:

Cover: As its name indicates, cover all cuts of the leg, also very appreciated for grilling or for frying. Of good presentation with lean areas, it is a tender meat from which the scallops and scallops are extracted, ideal to make grilled or breaded.
Against: (Inner part of the thigh) It is one of the great pieces that is also somewhat dry and hard because of the little fat it contains, it offers quality steaks and good presence, but the ideal is to use it to cook and roast.
Cylinder head: Cylinder head is a juicy piece, tender and tendinous. The cut can be divided by a membrane that can hardly be seen in the tasting. It is an ideal cut for making steaks and kebabs or stews like ruby. Gelatinous and flange for cooking.
Contra butt, it is juicier but its appearance is worse by tendons and internal nerves, usually it is cooked in stews and ragout.
Hip cleavage, used only for bottoms and cooked.
Needle. It occupies the first five dorsal vertebrae joining the neck with the spine. This piece is tender, juicy and suitable for making grilled, fried, empanada and equally suitable for stews.
Fish. This elongated piece is also tender and juicy, the nerve that runs it is easy to extract. Ideal for grilling or stuffing.
Espaldilla, looks unattractive but is usually a tender and tasty meat that contains enough fat. The meat of the high part is used to make fillets, the low part to roast or fry. It is a fatty and juicy meat, it is divided in stonecutter and flat, of the stonecutter usually they become fillets and of the end that is harder is made minced meat and of the flat, that is also known like sirloin of butcher, they are made fillets to fry, Although in general the shoulder is suitable for roasting whole in the oven or to prepare stews and stews.


Muscular flap located in the thoracic cavity, supported on the sternum. It is a hard and dry meat that requires prolonged cooking and to make it better, it is filled with juicy ingredients such as bacon.
Flat, flattened and covered with a whitish film called complexion. This lean cut is flat has a very pleasant and well-cooked flavor, in ragus and roasted the trowel is tender and juicy. With the trowel also the tartar steak is elaborated.
Brazuelo, is a lean meat, with abundant fat and gelatinous texture and with less nerves than the morcillo, reason why it is tasty to the palate. It is especially suitable for cooking and preparing broths.
Morcillo, his flesh is very gelatinous and with many nerves. Also called hock or zancarrón, it is the lower part of the legs that offers an irregular shape of lean, mellow and with many fibers. With it the traditional Madrilenian stew and many other stews and stews are elaborated. Its cross section with the bone is the known ossobuco (s3 prepares stew). It is used for cooking, stewing and boiling.


In general the meats of this category are rich in gelatines and have no application for roasting
Pescuezo, a meat that joins the head with the trunk of the animal, is dry, with a lot of nerve and connective tissue, ideal for broths, stews or stews.
Skirt, can be stewed, stuffed and cooked. The abdominal area is also known as vacuum and matambre. Although a cut with enough nerve is gelatinous and very tasty. It is cooked in fillings, stews and stews, besides obtaining from it the minced meat with which to make hamburgers or meatballs.
Ribs. The ribs are the series of cartilaginous bones that have part of the flesh of the skirt, with it is made the traditional barbecue. It is very fibrous, with streaks and jelly. Mainly boiled, stewed and cooked.
Tail. The tail offers a gelatinous flesh stuck to the final vertebrae of the animal’s tail. Contains fat and is very tasty, ideal for long stews and broths. The most popular dish is the tail of a bull.
Chest. This cut is little valued for its large proportion of bones, tendons and gelatinous connective tissue. It has a lot of fat, which helps to make it tasty, so it is usually used in the preparation of broths and some stews.

The most commonly used types of beef are: Chuck, shank, brisket, rib, short plate, flank, loin, sirloin, and the round. The are less common types that we won’t be discussing here, but they are tongue, neck, and the knuckle

Chuck: The chuck, also known as the seven-bone steak (in reference to the shape of the bone), is located near the shoulder and neck area of the cow. The chuck cut yields some of the more economical cuts of beef, such as the chuck roast, chuck arm roast, and the flat iron steak. The chuck contains a significant amount of connective tissue, which contains collagen and can be a little tough, but provides great flavor. Chuck cuts of beef are best cooked slowly over time with a crock pot or by braising.

 Brisket: It is cut from the breast or the lower portion of the cow. Like the shank, it has a lot of connective tissue and can be quite tough unless cooked properly. The brisket is known by two main cuts of meat: brisket flat cut and the brisket point cut. Brisket is a favorite of BBQ’ers everywhere and is best cooked smoked or braised.
Ribs: The rib includes some of the finest cuts of the cow, and is the known for its juiciness, tenderness, superb marbling, and flavor. The rib cut refers to ribs 6 through 12 on the cow. The rib includes several of the finest cuts of the cow, including the prime rib, short rib, rib-eye steak, and rib-eye roasts. Rib cuts are best cooked over dry heat and for long periods of time. American BBQ’ers favor grilling or smoking these tender cuts.
Short Plate: The short plate is located on the front belly of the cow below the ribs. It contains a lot of cartilage and is kind of fatty and tough. It contains a few different cuts including the short ribs, hangar steak, and the skirt steak. It is best known for being used to makecarne asada. Best braised because of its toughness.
Flank: The flank is a long flat cut from the abdominal muscles of the cow. It is one of the toughest cuts of meat. The flank is usually cut into flap steaks or flank steaks. It is typically used in Asian and Mexican cuisine as stir-fry or fajita beef. It can also be used in London broil. Due to its excessive toughness, flank cuts are best cooked with moist methods like braising.
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Montse Gonzalez