BUTCHERY BASICS

Learn where all of your favorite cuts come from, and what the best cooking methods are for each one.

BEEF

SHOULDER

Holds up the neck and head; includes front leg cuts that are generally tough, well-marbled, and good for braising/slow roasting/smoking.

PAN FRIED
GRILLED

Loin Section

Mid-section along the back bone; these muscles are the most tender and prized for steaks, premium roasts, and dry-aged cuts. Best for grilling, pan-frying, and oven roasting.

Flank/Brisket

Mid-section from breast to lower belly; the source of many flavourful and less tender “butcher’s” steak cuts that are great for grilling and pan-frying. The brisket and rib area are better for braising, smoking, and slow-cooking.

BRAISED
PAN FRIED

Hip

Term to describe the whole hind leg. Very lean and tough meat; great for braises, stews, grinds, and some roasts. Also sometimes cut very thinly for marinating steaks. We dry age whole hips to use in our dry aged hamburgers.

ROASTED
PAN FRIED
  • Inside Round
  • Sirloin Tip
BRAISED

Offal

Off-cuts muscles and organs. Also described as variety cuts; cooking method depends on the cut.

PAN FRIED
  • Liver
  • Heart
  • Kidney
BRAISED
GRILLED

PORK

Shoulder

Includes the front leg. Shoulder can be sold whole but is usually cut for braising/smoking, roasts, grilling chops, souvlaki, etc. Versatile muscle groups range from tender to very tough.

PAN FRIED
  • Pork Shoulder Chops
BRAISED
  • Pork Hock

Loin

Mid-section along backbone; these are the most tender muscles commonly used for grilling/pan-frying, and roasting.

PAN FRIED
ROASTED
BRAISED
  • Baby Back Ribs

Belly

Whole belly and flank section of the hog. Tougher muscle, very flavourful, and fatty; the cuts are commonly used for smoking (bacon), braising, and roasting. When sliced thinly can be a great grilling/frying cut.

BRAISED
GRILLED
  • Skirt Steak
  • Thin Cut Belly Bulgogi

Ham

Describes whole back leg of pork, commonly used to define a smoked leg, but is also used for a fresh leg. Lean muscles, can be cut thinly for cutlets, but often used as a whole roast, or in ground and stew.

PAN FRIED
  • Scaloppini
BRAISED
  • Hock
  • Stew Meat
ROASTED
  • Fresh Ham Roast

LAMB

Shoulder

Includes the neck and the foreshank. Cuts are tough and usually braised, but some pieces can be grilled as chops.

BRAISED
  • Lamb Shank
  • Boneless Lamb Neck Roast
  • Lamb Neck Medallions
  • Bone-In Shoulder Roast
  • Bone-In Lamb Stew
  • Boneless Lamb Stew

Loin

Mid-section along the back bone; these muscles are the most tender and prized for chops and roasts. Best for grilling, pan-frying, and oven roasting.

PAN FRIED

Flank

Cuts that run from the breast of the lamb to the belly, mostly used for grind and sausage, sometimes made into a stuffed roast.

ROASTED
  • Stuffed Lamb Breast Roast
BRAISED

Leg

Includes back shank. Lean and relatively tender cuts best for roasting and grilling/frying.

ROASTED
BRAISED
PAN FRIED

CHICKEN

Whole Birds

Very versatile for roasting, braising, grilling, frying, and poaching.

ROASTED
GRILLED
  • Butterflied
PAN FRIED
  • Spatch-cocked

Breast

Includes wing. Most popular cut, used for grilling, roasting, and poaching.

ROASTED
  • Wings
  • Bone In Skin On Breast

LEG

More exercised muscle results in more flavourful meat.

ROASTED
BRAISED
  • Drumstick
GRILLED
  • Bone-In Thighs

MEAT COOKING
BASICS

Here are our tips for success: cooking techniques everyone can use to create delicious meals for your family and friends.

ROASTING

ROASTING IN A NUTSHELL

  • Defined by cooking meat in a hot oven without liquid.
  • Commonly used on tender cuts, they can be lean or fatty.
  • Slow roasting generally refers to cooking at 300°F or less.
  • Most roasting recipes use two different temperatures: lower for the actual cooking, and higher to brown the outside of the roast.

BASIC ROASTING TECHNIQUE

  • Note the weight of the roast.
  • Bring meat to room temperature.
  • Season the meat well with salt and pepper (or use marinade overnight), then oil the meat lightly.
  • Preheat the oven (350°F is most common and useful oven temperature for roasting).
  • Place meat on a rack in a roasting pan. If there is no rack, elevate the roast by cooking it on halved onions/carrots/etc.
  • Cook roast for average of 15-20 minutes per pound. This will yield average results; cooks can play with these times based on the roast.
  • Best way to determine doneness is by using an internal thermometer.
  • Rest the meat for 10-15 minutes before carving.

PAN FRYING

Pan-Frying in a Nutshell

  • Cooking meat in a pan has many advantages, including preventing flare-ups, creating pan sauces, and basting the meat.
  • Used for fatty and lean meats.
  • Use a heavy pan that can be transferred into the oven for thicker cuts.

Basic Pan-Frying Technique

  • Heat the pan over a medium-high heat.
  • Bring meat to room temperature.
  • Season the meat well with salt and pepper (or use marinade overnight), then oil the meat lightly.
  • Sear the meat in the hot pan, and turn when one side is golden brown.
  • Don’t overcrowd the pan, as the meat could steam and not brown.
  • For thicker cuts, transfer the pan with browned meat into a 350°F oven to finish cooking.
  • Rest the meat for 5-10 minutes before carving/serving.
  • Make a quick pan sauce by deglazing the pan with flavourful liquid (wine, beer, stock, juice, etc), and whisking in cold butter.

GRILLING

Grilling in a Nutshell

  • Most easily defined as cooking meat on a grate over an open fire.
  • Direct heat refers to the meat being on the grill right over the flame.
  • Indirect heat refers to the meat being on the grill away from the flame.
  • Heat source can be propane, gas, wood, charcoal.
  • Grilling is perfect for tender, leaner cuts – fatty cuts can cause flare ups on the grill.

Basic Grilling Technique

  • Preheat the grill – ½ should be high, ½ should be medium heat.
  • Bring meat to room temperature.
  • Season the meat well with salt and pepper (or use marinade overnight), then oil the meat lightly.
  • “Sear” the meat on the hot (direct) side of the grill, browning each side.
  • For thicker cuts, move the meat to the indirect side of the grill to finish cooking.
  • Rest the meat for 5-10 minutes before carving/serving.

BRAISING

Braising in a Nutshell

  • Most easily defined as slow roasting in an aromatic liquid.
  • Used on tougher cuts of meat to break down the muscle fibers and make them tender.
  • “Stewing” refers to braising smaller pieces of tough meat.

Basic Braise Technique

  • Season the meat with salt and pepper, and dust with a fine layer of flour.
  • In large pot on medium heat, brown the seasoned meat in fat (butter or oil). When brown all over, remove from pot.
  • In the same pot, sauté aromatic vegetables (onion, garlic, carrot, celery, etc).
  • Add liquid to vegetables (wine, stock, water, beer, juice, etc).
  • Add meat back to pot. Make sure it is at least ¾ covered with liquid.
  • Put a lid on the pot and place in a 300°F oven until meat is tender.

TEMPERATURES

It is important to use an internal thermometer to test cooked meat for internal doneness.  Please refer to the cooking temperatures chart from Health Canada.

From the Canada Food Guide:

  • Remove your food from the heat and insert the digital food thermometer through the thickest part of the meat, all the way to the middle.
  • Make sure that the thermometer is not touching any bones, since they heat up more quickly than the meat and could give you a false reading.
  • If you have more than one piece of meat, poultry or seafood, be sure to check each piece separately, as temperatures may differ in each piece.
  • For hamburgers, insert the digital food thermometer through the side of the patty, all the way to the middle. Oven-safe meat thermometers designed for testing whole poultry and roasts during cooking are not suitable for testing beef patties.