Meat Basics

Reading Guide

How Can You Improve? Before starting this section, think about the last exam you took on material you had to read. What reading strategies helped you on the test? Make a list of ways to improve your strategies to succeed on your next exam.

Content Vocabulary

• meat

• elastin

• marbling

• primal cut

• fat cap

• fabricated

• barding


• larding

• carcass

• muscle fibers

• yield grade

• collagen

Key Concepts

• Identify the structure and cuts of meat.

• Summarize the details of meat inspection, grading, handling, and storage.

Main Idea

Meat is an essential part of most foodservice operations' menus. It is important to know how to purchase and safely store meat.

Graphic Organizer

Use a chart like the one below to list and describe the three components of meat found in this section.

Academic Vocabulary

Meat Component


Graphic Organizer Go to this book's Online Learning Center at for a printable graphic organizer.

English Language Arts

NCTE 12 Use language to accomplish individual purposes.


NCTM Number and Operations Understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers, and number systems.

i r Social Studies

NCSSI B Culture Predict how experiences may be interpreted by people from diverse cultural perspectives and frames of reference.

NCSS V B Individuals, Groups, and Institutions

Analyze group and institutional influences on people, events, and elements of culture in both historical and contemporary settings.

NCTE National Council of Teachers of English NCTM National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

NSES National Science Education

Standards NCSS National Council for the Social Studies

Structure of Meat

Meat is an important part of many people's diets. It is also an essential part of most foodservice establishment menu offerings. It is very important to learn about the different types of meats available. You will need to know how to purchase the best cuts of meat and how to safely store them.

Meat is the muscle of animals, such as found in cattle and hogs. In general, all meats contain the same three basic nutrients: water, protein, and fat.

Meat has the following amount of nutrients:

• About 75% of muscle is water

• About 20% of muscle is protein

Water is a very important nutrient to keep in mind when preparing meat. Too much cooking will make meat dry. As meat cooks, it gets smaller due to shrinkage. Shrinkage happens when the meat loses water as it cooks. The longer you cook meat, the less it will weigh. Meats cooked at low temperatures do not lose as much water as meats cooked at high temperatures.

There are two types of fat in meat: marbling and fat cap. Marbling is fat within the muscle tissue. The amount of marbling affects the meat's tenderness, taste, and quality. In general, the more marbling there is in a piece of meat, the more tender and flavorful the meat will be.

The fat cap is the fat that surrounds muscle tissue. An animal uses this layer of fat as an energy source and to keep itself warm. This layer of fat is frequently left on the meat during cooking to keep meat moist and juicy. If there is not a fat cap, barding or larding is a proven alternative to keep meats from drying out during cooking.

With barding, you wrap a lean meat with fat, such as bacon, before roasting. A few minutes before doneness, you remove the meat from the oven, unwrap the fat, put the meat back in the oven, and allow the surface of the meat to brown.

^ Nutrition Notes ^ Choose Lean Meat

Eating lean meat instead of fatty meat can help decrease cholesterol and saturated fat intake, and decrease the amount of fat that attaches to your arteries. A 1-ounce piece of uncooked, lean meat has 4 to 5 grams of protein. The fattiest meats include beef brisket and pork spare ribs. Veal is one of the leanest types of meat. CRITICAL THINKING Based on its effects, how would eating lean meat benefit your health?

With larding, long, thin strips of fat or vegetables are inserted into the center of the lean meat. This adds moisture and can make the final product visually appealing.

Components of Meat

Meat products have three components:

• Muscle Fibers You may have heard that leaner cuts of meat have fewer calories. That is because lean meat is almost completely composed, or made up, of muscle fibers with little fat. Muscle fibers determine meat's texture and contribute to its flavor. Coarsely textured meat such as ham has tough, large fibers. Smooth-textured meat such as beef tenderloin has tender, small fibers.

• Connective Tissue Connective tissue connects muscles to bones and binds muscle fibers together. Connective tissue is tough. To cook meats properly, you need to understand how connective tissue functions. Connective tissue is composed of either collagen or elastin. Collagen is soft, white tissue that breaks down into gelatin and water during slow, moist cooking processes. Elastin is a hard, yellow tissue that does not break down during cooking. Elastin is the tissue some people refer to as gristle. Older animals generally have a lot of elastin. To reduce the effects of elastin, cut it away from the meat.

• Bones Bones make up the skeleton of the animal. An older animal has whiter bones, while a younger one has redder bones. Learn the bone structure of an animal to help you identify the different cuts of meat and how they are carved.




The Federal Meat Inspection Act is put into effect

William Howard Taft is inaugurated President of the United States

Primal Cuts

A primal cut, sometimes called a wholesale cut, is a large, primary piece of meat separated from the animal. Primal cuts are the most popular forms of meat purchased by foodservice operations. Although primal cuts are large cuts of meat, they are easily handled and stored.

Fabricated Cuts

A fabricated cut is a smaller portion taken from primal cuts. It is a smaller, menu-sized portion of meat. You would likely purchase fabricated cuts if you were planning to serve roasts, stews, or steaks. Purchasing fabricated cuts as exact portions can limit waste. It is good to know how fabricated cuts are made to understand how these cuts should be cooked.

The History of the Butcher

The history of the butcher and meat seller goes back to ancient Rome, where Roman butchers slaughtered and sold meat according to regulations that governed the type of meat each butcher sold. During the Middle Ages, butchers occupied open stalls from which they butchered and sold their wares. This is in sharp contrast to today's meat production, in which animals are slaughtered for meat at large-scale meat-packing operations. Today's butcher operates under a strict set of guidelines for training and operations. On-the-job training is common because simple meat-cutting techniques require only a few days to learn. Complicated tasks, such as eviscerating slaughtered animals, require several months of training.

History Application

The U.S. Department of Agriculture voluntarily grades meat. Write a listing the various grades, the characteristics that determine each grading, and why you feel grading is necessary.

Whole Carcass

The carcass is what is left of the whole animal after it has been slaughtered. (See Figure 23.1 on page 590.) The carcass does not usually include the head, feet, or hide. However, pork can be purchased with the feet and head still attached. Most foodservice establishments do not purchase meat in this form.

Tenderize Meat To tenderize meat that has a lot of connective tissue, try the following techniques: j Sear and then braise the meat j Slice it thinly against the grain j Grind it j Break down the collagen by adding a chemical tenderizer.

NCSS V B Individuals, Groups, and Institutions Analyze group and institutional influences on people, events, and elements of culture in both historical and contemporary settings.

The labor, equipment, and facilities needed to process a whole carcass are expensive. In addition, many foodservice establishments may not be able to use all parts of a carcass. This results in a waste of food and money.

Cutting the Carcass

Beef carcasses are split into two sides. Each side is divided into a hind and a quarter. In general, veal and lamb carcasses are divided between their last two ribs to create the foresaddle and hindsaddle.

the size of the muscle fibers related to the texture of the meat?

L 1FIGURE 231 Meat Carcasses

' Purchase Meat Beef, veal, and lamb carcasses are generally split into two main sections. Why do most restaurants avoid purchasing whole carcasses for use?

Hindquarter \

Forequarter ^^


Veal Hindsaddle And Foresaddle


Veal Foresaddle And Hindsaddle








Purchasing Meats

Imagine that you have been given the job of buying meat for your foodservice operation. Where would you begin? What cuts would you ask for? How would you know the quality of the meats? There are several factors to consider when you purchase meat:

• The menu and the meats that will fit those recipes

• The cooking methods to be used

• The price (For example, how much can your customers afford, and how much is your foodservice operation willing to pay for top-quality meats?)

• Quality and value

To assist in making quality meat purchases, many foodservice operations use guides such as The Meat Buyers Guide, which is put out by the North American Meat Processors Association. This guide provides Institutional Meat Purchase Specifications (IMPS) for quality meats and photos of various meat cuts to help ensure that meats purchased are consistent in quality and cut. You must be sure to be specific when you place an order. All meats must be purchased from a USDA-approved processing plant.

The storage facilities, the cooking techniques that a facility uses, and the speed with which food must be prepared all affect the selection of types and sizes of meat.

Meat Inspection and Grading

In 1906 under U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, the U.S. federal government passed the Meat Inspection Act. This law requires the inspection of all meats that are transported across state lines. It also requires the federal government to inspect animals before slaughter and carcasses after slaughter, establishes sanitation standards for meat-processing plants, and allows the government to routinely monitor the activities of these plants. It guarantees that the meat is wholesome, and that the animal was not diseased.

The meat for foodservice operations must have a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Inspection Stamp. (See Figure 23.2.) The U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), part of the USDA, is responsible for performing inspections. FSIS checks to make sure that meat is clean, safe to eat, and

* ) FIGURE 23.2 | Inspection Stamps

USDA Inspection All meats that are transported across state lines must be inspected by the USDA. What do these inspection stamps say about the quality of the meat?

38 iU.S.oi


[ IFIGURE 23.3 Meat Grades

Quality Issues USDA grades indicate the quality of a piece of meat. What are the differences between prime and choice meat?


Quality Grades


USDA Prime, Choice, Select, Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter, Canner.


Pork is not quality graded because the quality is always uniform.


USDA Prime, Choice, Good, Standard, Utility.


USDA Prime, Choice, Good, Utility.

properly packaged. Meats that pass inspection are given a USDA stamp made from a harmless vegetable dye so it will not need to be cut off prior to cooking. The USDA stamp will not reveal, or make known, anything about the quality or tenderness of the meat. It reveals only that it is fit for human consumption. Since the inspection stamp appears in only a few places on the animal, it is generally only seen on retail cuts of meat.

As with poultry, meat is graded to indicate its quality. (See Figure 23.3.) The USDA's grading program is completely voluntary to the meat industry, which pays for the service. This grading is usually done within 24 hours of slaughtering and inspection. Some meat producers and processors use their own criteria to grade meats. This independent grading is often less consistent than the USDA's grading system.

The USDA grading shield stamp indicates how tender and flavorful the meat will be when it is prepared. Meat is graded for both quality and yield. Different types of meat have different criteria, however. A piece of beef is not evaluated for the same features as a piece of mutton. In general, however, USDA graders usually check for:

• Firmness

• Marbling

Kobe Beef The Wagyu cattle from Japan are the source of Kobe beef, an extremely tender, flavorful grade of beef. The cattle are raised under strict conditions, including some that may seem strange, such as consuming beer. However, by USDA standards, Kobe beef would receive the highest yield and grade markings. Kobe beef is very expensive.

Sanitation Check

Prevent Cross-Contamination

When you prepare meats, practice these safety measures to help prevent cross-contamination:

• Store meats separately from other foods.

• Store raw meats below all other foods.

• Prepare meat products in areas separate from other foods.

• Sanitize knives and cutting boards after each use.

• Ground meats should be used more quickly because of possible bacterial contamination.

CRITICAL THINKING Why are ground meats more susceptible to bacterial contamination?

Below the Select grade are the Utility, Cutter, and Canner grades. These are used primarily for processed meat products, such as hamburger patties and luncheon meats.

Yield Grades

A yield grade measures the amount of usable meat on beef and lamb. (See Figure 23.5.) The best grade is Yield Grade 1, and the lowest is Yield Grade 5. This means that meat that has been marked Yield Grade 1 will contain a good amount of usable muscle. If you purchase a piece of beef that is marked Yield Grade 5, it probably has a large amount of fat and not much muscle.

Quality Grades

Quality grading is a means to measure differences in the quality of the meat you purchase. This type of grading shows meat's tenderness, juiciness, and flavor. The quality grades are different for each type of meat.

USDA Prime meats are used in the very best foodservice establishments. These meats are also the most expensive. For a meat product to receive a USDA Prime grade, it must have excellent marbling and a thick layer of fat cap. (See Figure 23.4.)

The Choice grade is more widely accepted in the foodservice industry. It is the grade most preferred by consumers because of its flavor and tenderness. It is also a great value.

The Select grade has very little marbling. It is usually purchased by foodservice operations concerned about keeping costs down.

L 'FIGURE23.4 Meat Grading System

Prime Cuts USDA Prime meats are the highest quality grade sold in the United States. What grade of meat is the most commonly sold grade in the United States?

Meat Handling and Storage

Meat storage requires careful attention. Meat can quickly spoil if it is not properly handled. This can cause food waste, or even possible foodborne illness if the spoiled meat is used.

• Fresh Meat Fresh meat should be stored in the refrigerator at 41°F (5°C) or below. Wet-aged meat should remain sealed until the meat is ready for use. Ground meat, such as hamburger, must be wrapped air-tight so that it stays fresh. Place meat on trays so that juices from the meat will not contaminate other foods or the storage unit floors. Store uncooked meats on the lower shelves of the refrigerator, with ground meats shelved below other meats. Raw meats should always be placed on the lowest shelf so that they will not drip.

! S3Yieid Grades

A Good Yield USDA Yield Grades indicate the amount of usable meat on cuts of beef and lamb. What does this stamp indicate about meat?

! S3Yieid Grades

A Good Yield USDA Yield Grades indicate the amount of usable meat on cuts of beef and lamb. What does this stamp indicate about meat?

L lF'GURE 23:6 Meat Storage

Meat Safety Meats can spoil quickly if they are not stored and handled properly. Why do you think raw meats should be stored on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator?

Meat Products



Beef, roasts and steaks

2-5 days

6-9 months

Lamb, roasts and steaks

2-5 days

6-9 months

Pork, roasts and chops

2-5 days

4-8 months

Beef and lamb, ground

1-2 days

3-4 months

Pork, sausage

1-2 days

2 months

• Frozen Meats To freeze fresh meat, place it in a freezer at 0°F (18°C) or below. Never freeze meat in containers. Always wrap the meat in air-tight, moisture-proof packaging to prevent freezer burn. Freezer burn causes meat to spoil. Labeling and dating packages and following first-in, first-out procedures help avoid food waste caused by spoilage. Meats should always be thawed under refrigeration and never on the counter left at room temperature. (See Figure 23.6 for how long meats can be kept in storage.)

\ Determine Why does meat develop more flavor as it ages?

SECTION 23.1 _ imimmM Review Key Concepts

1. Explain the purpose of barding and larding.

2. List the factors for purchasing meat.

Practice Culinary Academics English Language Arts

3. Imagine that you are training new employees in a foodservice operation. Create a guide to purchasing meat for them. Include tips, examples of cuts, and information about the structure and qualities of meat.

NCTE 12 Use language to accomplish individual purposes.

Social Studies

4. Many in our society have the luxury of being able to eat only the best cuts of meat. Traditionally, however, people in most cultures would use as much of the animal as possible. Research meat dishes in different cultures that are made from parts of the animal we normally would not often use. Create a visual presentation to show the recipe, and the meat cut it uses.

^^ Mathematics

5. Shandra is preparing veal for the dinner service at the restaurant where she works. To tenderize veal cutlets that are ^3-inch thick, Shandra pounds them to a thickness of Vs inch. What fraction is the new thickness of the original thickness? What percentage is the new thickness of the original thickness?

^^^^^ Convert Fractions to Percents

To convert a fraction into a percent, divide the numerator by the denominator, multiply by 100, and add the percent symbol.

Starting Hint The pounded veal is (7s) / (2/a) of the original thickness. Because it is improper to have fractions within a fraction, simplify the fraction by dividing Vs by % (which is the same as multiplying Vs by 3/2). Convert this fraction to a percent.

NCTM Number and Operations Understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers, and number systems.

Bji Check your answers at this book's Online Learning Center at

NCSS I B Culture Predict how experiences may be interpreted by people from diverse cultural perspectives and frames of reference.


Meat Cuts

Reading Guide

Before You Read

Take Guilt-Free Days of Rest The reason for resting is to refresh oneself. However, if you feel guilty about resting ("I really should be reading"), then your precious rest period will only create more stress. The brain has a hard time absorbing new data when it is stressed. Your reading skills will be much more effective if you are relaxed and ready to learn.

Content Vocabulary

Academic Vocabulary

Read to Learn Key Concepts

• Identify the quality characteristics and cuts of pork.

• Describe the quality characteristics and storage of lamb.

• List the quality characteristics of veal.

• Explain the quality characteristics of beef.

Main Idea

Before being shipped, meat is divided into primal cuts. Primal cuts are then further divided into fabricated cuts before they are prepared.

Graphic Organizer

As you read, use a matrix like this one to list the primal cuts for each type of meat.

Primal Cuts

Can you name the primal and fabricated cuts of meat ?





Graphic Organizer Go to this book's Online Learning Center at for a printable graphic organizer.


NCTM Problem Solving

Solve problems that arise in mathematics and in other contexts.

NCTE National Council of Teachers of English NCTM National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

NSES National Science Education

Standards NCSS National Council for the Social Studies

Cuts of Pork

Before being shipped to foodservice operations, a meat carcass is usually divided into primal cuts and portioned. (See Figure 23.7 on page 596.) Primal cuts are easier for foodservice workers to handle. Standards have been established that specify how pork, lamb, veal, and beef should be divided into smaller fabricated cuts. These smaller pieces of meat can be prepared in many different ways. Learning the basic primal and fabricated cuts, the location and shape of the bones, and the characteristics and processes of each kind of meat will prepare you to handle and serve meat correctly.

Pork is the meat from hogs that are less than one year old. There are five different primal pork cuts: loin, picnic shoulder, Boston butt, belly, and fresh ham. The largest primal cut is the loin.

• Loin The loin can be divided into several fabricated cuts, such as pork tenderloin, pork chops, and pork back ribs. Pork tenderloin is the most tender cut of pork. The pork chop is a favorite of many customers. The best pork chops are those that are center cut. All loin cuts can be cooked using a variety of cooking methods.

• Shoulder/Butt The picnic shoulder is the lower part of the foreleg. It is sometimes called a picnic ham. This part of the shoulder has a higher fat content than other cuts, making it ideal for roasting. The picnic shoulder cut can be cooked using any method. It can be fabricated into fresh and smoked picnic hams. The picnic shoulder also may be boned and cut into smaller pieces, and then sauteed, braised, or stewed. Just above the picnic shoulder is the shoulder butt, or Boston butt. This cut has a high fat content but is very meaty. The Boston butt can be divided into steaks and chops. It can be boned and smoked like a ham.

• Spareribs/Belly The pork belly is a primal cut with a high percentage of fat and little

Safety Check

^ Wear Protective Gloves

Cuts are a common hazard of processing meat, and most cuts occur on the hands. When you cut meats, stainless steel mesh gloves can be used to protect the hands. The gloves have a durable and nonabsorbent outer surface. Gloves should be worn on both hands. Injuries can occur to both the cutting and non-cutting hand. Make sure the gloves that you wear are a good fit. CRITICAL THINKING What other injuries might occur while processing meat besides cutting your hand? How can you protect against them?

lean meat. The fabricated cut is spareribs. Any left over meat is cut for bacon. • Ham The primal cut called the ham is actually a portion, or part, of the hind leg. This cut is very large and has lots of muscle and little connective tissue. Fresh ham can be cut with the bone in or boneless, or with the shank removed. The shank of the ham is sometimes called the ham hock.

Quality Characteristics of Pork

Today, pork is much leaner than it once was. Pork can be nearly as lean as skinless chicken. Three ounces of pork tenderloin, the leanest cut, has about 1.4 grams of fat, while a 3-ounce skinless chicken breast has about 0.9 grams of fat.

Uncooked pork should be light pink to red in color, and the fat should be white. There should be no odor. Discard pork that appears brown, green, or purple, or that has black, green, or white spots. This indicates that the pork is spoiled. A slimy feel or a bad odor also indicate spoilage.

Hogs are butchered before they are one year old. This means that they are more tender than older animals. There are many rules and regulations about how hogs are raised and slaughtered that protect both the animals and the public from disease, infection, and contamination.

? Jfigure 23.7 Foodservice Pork Cuts

Purchase Pork This poster shows the primal and fabricated cuts of pork available to restaurants. What percentage of these pork cuts will most likely be processed before arriving at a foodservice establishment?

Continue reading here: Foodservice Cuts Of Pork

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