After visiting the farm and pouring over the details (quality of beef, cost, transportation etc), we finally decided to purchase a whole cow with three other families. One of the great things about this arrangement is that each family can choose to custom butcher their 1/4th if they want to. We often attempt one of Julia Child’s French steak recipes with the wrong cut, because we cannot find it in any American store. So, this could be our rare chance to get some French cuts and some American ones (the best of both worlds?) – that is, if we can figure out what we are doing. Now that our cow order has been placed, TM has done a bit of research and I am left with my own butchery homework to do as well. I thought you might enjoy what we found on French vs. American beef butchering styles, taken from the D’Artagnan blog. I feel like the two very different ways of butchering a cow very much reflect the cultural differences of these two countries. See if you agree!
Watch Tom Mylan’s knife-skills meet Yves-Marie Le Bourdonnec’s:
If you cannot view the video, here is a summary on Ariane Daguin’s cultural observations:
American beef butchery:
Focus on efficiency, conserving time and labor.
Make the meat as affordable as possible.
Customer is looking for the density of the meat.
Customer wants and talks about the much sought-after “marble”.
USA known for some of the best cattle breeders in the world.
French beef butchery:
French meat is already expensive, so there isn’t a focus on trying to make the meat cheap.
Customer wants to purchase exactly the specific cut with that specific texture and not get anything else.
Customer wants a muscle that has the same texture all the way through.
Butcher exposes each muscle and highlights each one to achieve a specific taste, texture.
French known for some of the best butchers in the world
Beef cuts side by side:
1. chuck; 2. flanken-style ribs; 3. rib; 4. back ribs; 5. short loin; 6. Porterhouse steak; 7. tenderloin; 8. sirloin; 9. round; 10. boneless rump roast; 11. round steak; 12. hind shank; 13. flank; 14. flank steak rolls; 15. short plate; 16. brisket; 17. fore shank
1, 2. collier (neck); 3. basses-cotes; 4. jumeau for grilling or frying; 5. jumeau for stewing; 6. macreuse; 7. plat de cotes decouvert (uncovered rib); 8. plat de cotes couvert (covered rib); 9. gite de derriere; 11. entre-cote; 12. hampe; 13. poitrine; 14. faux-filet; 15. filet; 16. bavette for grilling or frying; 17. bavette for stewing; 18. flanchet; 19. romsteck (rump steak); 20. aiguillette baronne; 21. rond de tranche basse; 22. tranche; 23. gite a la noix; 24. queue (tail)
Of course, I couldn’t stop there. Out of curiosity, I had to do a quick google search for Chinese cuts and Argentinian cuts, all of which slightly vary from the cuts specified above. I am sure there is some cultural reflection to be made about their butchering styles as well. As always, these things totally fascinate me!