The Butcher Knows Best: How to Substitute Common Cuts of Meat

Blog PostsBy Liza de Guia on Feb 10, 2010
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Meat Case

For all you devoted recipe lovers who want to adventure into new meat eating territories, I spoke with Jake Dickson (from our story below) today to get his recommendations on how YOU can start exploring the whole animal. Below, please find a list of common cuts of meat, and Jake’s suggested substitutions. Happy Eating!

BEEF

  • If you like SKIRT STEAK - substitute SIRLOIN TIP CUT from the sirloin flap. Big, beefy flavor, similar loose grain that holds a marinade well, and that chewy-but-not-tough consistency you get with skirt steak.
  • If you like HANGAR STEAKsubstitute SHOULDER TENDER. As there is only one hangar per animal, we almost never have any available. Shoulder tender has a similar size, consistency (kinda spongy) and big, beefy flavor. This cut is becoming more widely available.
  • If you like TENDERLOIN/FILET MINIONsubstitute SIRLOIN FILET OR CHICKEN STEAK. This is a tough one. There isn’t really anything that fits the bill as a perfect substitute as tenderloin is both very tender and very mildly flavored. But there are some good options. I often recommend sirloin filet as an option as it looks similar and has similar leanness; but you sacrifice some tenderness (but pick up bigger flavor). If a nice round, tender, small steak is what you’re after, go for the chicken steak (also known as charcoal steak), cut from the top blade. The meat is rated as the second most tender on the animal; the only downside is that the chicken steak has a line of grizzle running down the middle you’ll have to eat around, so it’s not quite as refined of a cut as a typical filet minion.

PORK

  • If you like BONELESS PORK LOIN ROAST – substitute PORK SIRLOIN ROAST. We use most of our loins for bone-in center-cut pork chops, so don’t have boneless loin roasts available all the time. Go for the sirloin roast. Found just slightly farther back on the animal, you give up a little bit of tenderness for much bigger flavor. Plus, you’re slow cooking (roasting in this case), so tenderness is not your primary concern. As it’s a wider cut, it’s also less likely to dry out during cooking.
  • If you like BABY-BACK RIBSsubstitute SPARE RIBS or COUNTRY STYLE RIBS. Spare ribs are way tastier and can be cooked the same way. And if you really want the smaller rib size, we’ll just split them for you on the band saw! Or better yet – get the country style ribs (basically shoulder chop split in half), they’re even meatier.

LAMB

  • If you like LAMB RIB CHOPSsubstitute LAMB LOIN CHOPS. As we use smaller lambs at the shop, we sell them as whole racks (as they cook better that way). Consequently, we don’t have your typical lolly-pop lamb chop available. Go for the loin chops as a substitute. It’s basically a t-bone/porterhouse of lamb so you get the NY Strip and tenderloin, the two most tender portions of the animal.

And when in doubt, just ask at the meat counter!  -Jake Dickson, @EatMeaty on Twitter

**Note from SkeeterNYC** If any of you fine readers have suggestions of your own from personal experience, please feel free to share in our comments section! Would love to hear how you get creative with meat!

Comments

  1. Gilad says:

    Love it! I find that there are so many heritage cuts that were reserved to the butcher of past times having a whole animal to manipulate. I really would like to see more double or block cut shoulder chops. They make such a great roast…

    I also see more lamb neck in butcher shops. That makes me happy. So magical when prepared right. It’s layering of fat evokes bacon like preparations… the nerve cord is great for using as a thickener like making a roux. Amazing with tomato sauces.

    Thanx for yet another great post.

    Eat well.

  2. Chris says:

    This is great! My suggestion for the filet substitute is the flat iron. While the same muscles as the chicken steak (top blade / charcoal / patio, names abound!), the flat iron (should) be cut differently than the aforementioned steaks. The difference is that the seam of connective tissue has been removed. Rather than cutting across the whole infraspinatus muscle, one can filet out the connective tissue. What’s left are nicely portioned, super tender, mighty good beef steaks!

  3. joe mcgonigal says:

    your readers might recognize the term” flat Iron steak” much more readily than chicken steak as it’s used in almost every type of restaurant these days. Also, the thick nerve or grizzle is totally removed for foodservice use. Had we know that’s all it took to create a terrific steak, easily grilled, pan seared, or broiled by almost anyone to perfection, the “flat Iron” would have been famous 25 years ago.

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