Understanding The Basic Cuts

The following discussion of meat cuts focuses on the four primary meat categories in the wholesale and retail markets: beef, lamb,veal, and pork. Keep in mind,however, that game animals, discussed later in the chapter, have the same bone and muscle structure and are generally divided into the same or similar cuts as nongame animals. Meat cuts are based on two factors:

1. The muscle and bone structure of the meat.

2. Uses and appropriate cooking methods of various parts of the animal.

Food service suppliers in the United States may follow a set of specifications called Institution Meat Purchase Specifications (IMPS). (IMPS, including numbers and names of cuts, are the same as the North American Meat Processors Association, or NAMP, specifications.) All cuts are described in detail and listed by number. This simplifies purchasing, as you can order by number for exactly the cut you want.

Table 10.2 IMPS/NAMP Meat Categories


Beef, lamb, veal, and pork may be purchased in some or all of these forms. Mutton and goat are also given NAMP classification numbers, as indicated in Table 10.2, but they have minimal importance in North American food service and are not covered here.

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