Back to Basics: A Full Side of Beef

Last night, Master Butcher Rudi Weid hung a 720-pound half of a steer from the ceiling in ICE’s demo kitchen and artfully broke it down into primals, sub-primals and ultimately into roasts, steaks, ribs and other familiar cuts of meat.

He discussed every section, cut, muscle and the different uses for each. One of the most interesting points was that only about 1/3 of the weight of the side of beef is usable meat. Most steers are broken down in large meat packing plants and then shipped out to grocery stores. This demo was a unique opportunity to see the art and craft of butchering.

Chef Rudi walked the class through the terminology and process of butchering a steer. He took out his knives and worked his way up the steer, starting at the neck and working all the way to the back leg. He demonstrated where exactly cuts such as silver tip, eye round steak, tri-tip, top loin steak, short ribs and chuck pot roast come from. Eventually, the various steaks were seared to a perfect pink and served so the class could sample and directly compare the different cuts. While demand for steaks has increased over recent generations,

Chef Rudi shared with the crowd that he prefers other cuts, saying, “If you know how to cook and have a little time, you don’t always have to eat steak. You can make fantastic short ribs, pot roast, or whatever else.”

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