Staying a Cut Above

Different Cuts of Meat

Staying a Cut Above

According to a recent National Restaurant Association chef survey, one of the top 20 trends in the foodservice industry is serving different cuts of meat. Consumers are asking for unique flavors and nutritious options, the beef industry is constantly looking for new uses for often overlooked cuts of meat, and environmentally conscious chefs and operators are finding ways to utilize more and more of every animal. 

No so long ago, the most unusual meat dish found on a restaurant menu was Sweat Breads. Well...palettes have changed. Chefs are thinking outside the box. And customers are more adventurous. Denver steak, pork flat iron, bavette, and tri-tip are just a few of the more interesting cuts that will make their way onto restaurant menus this year. 

The “nose to tail” philosophy is not new. Indeed, peasants and chefs alike have been making use of the “lesser” cuts since animal met man. Back in the day, sustainably raising animals was a way of life, and waste was not an option. Today, chefs and consumers are discovering that many of the more unusual cuts of meat are versatile, extremely tender, perfect for marinating, and they can be cooked using several different methods. The filet, the New York Strip and the rib-eye will always have their place on restaurant menus, but the more obscure meats are beginning to shine. The boneless blade steak and the spinalis are no longer the butcher’s best kept secrets.

Exploring the whole animal can, no doubt, be a labor of love. Unique flavor can demand nimble knife skills and unique preparation methods. Depending on the cut, creativity and patience can be a must. But letting your customers explore along with you reinforces your sustainability, animal welfare, and food safety efforts by keeping employees and customers in touch with where food comes from.

As the old saying goes...“One man’s pot roast is another man’s pot of gold.” Mining the entire animal gives your chef an opportunity to maximize texture while creating delicious alternatives at less expensive prices. Second tier cuts of meat are typically 30-55% less expensive than the more “mainstream” counterparts.  Adding one or two less traditional cuts will lower your overall protein price, and it will help you gain revenue by expanding your menu, thus increasing profit margin.  

Thinking about going “cheek to cheek” and wondering if your customers will be willing to step out of their comfort zone? Try introducing small portions at a lower price. Let guests try it and get excited about it what’s new on your menu.  

What’s the most unusual cut of meat you have ever sampled? Tell us about it.