Bone Structure

Knowing the bone structure of meat animals is essential for:

1. Identifying meat cuts.

The distinctive shapes of the bones are often the best clue to the identification of a cut. Note how the shapes of the bones in the photographs in Figures 10.3 through 10.6 help your recognition.

2. Boning and cutting meats.

Bones are often surrounded by flesh.You will need to know where they are even if you can't see them.

3. Carving cooked meats.

Same reason as number 2.

Study the chart of the beef skeleton in Figure 10.7 and learn the names of the major bones.Then compare the charts in Figures 10.3 through 10.6.You will see that the bone structures for all the animals are identical (except for pork, which has more than 13 ribs). Even the names are the same.

Figure 10.7 Beef bone structure

Figure 10.7 Beef bone structure

1. Neck bone

4. Blade bone

10. Pelvis

2. Backbone

5. Arm bone

10a. Hip bone

2a. Feather bone

6. Foreshank bone

10b. Rump or aitch bone

2b. Finger bone

7. Breastbone

11. Leg or round bone

2c. Chine bone

8. Rib cartilage

12. Knee cap

3. Tailbone

9. Ribs

13. Hindshank bone


Although the public refers to retail meat cutters as butchers, the meat industry uses this term another way. To butcher means to kill and dress a meat animal. To fabricate means to cut raw meat into smaller pieces.

A third term, carve, also means to cut meat, but this always refers to cooked meat.

The photographs in Figures 10.3 through 10.6 depict typical primal and fabricated cuts of beef, lamb,veal, and pork (courtesy National Live Stock and Meat Board and National Pork Producers Council).

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