Butcher Basics

Butcher Basics



Consisting of parts of the neck, shoulder blade, and upper arm, beef chuck is a tougher cut, made up of fat and connective tissue, making it a good choice for braised dishes like beef stew or pot roast. It is excellent for ground beef.

Beef brisket is basically the chest muscle of the animal, so it is tough in nature but one of the most flavourful cuts of meat when cooked properly – low and slow to break down and tenderize.

Commonly used in dishes like Beef Bourguignon or Osso Bucco, the shank comes from the leg. It is lean and tough so best when cooked low and slow. It also makes for good low-fat ground beef.

A very tender cut, the rib is best when roasted – known as prime rib or cut into steaks – known as the delectable ribeye. 

The short loin, found on the back of the animal (known as the hindquarter) is where we find the most desirable cuts of meat like the T-bone, porterhouse, strip loin and strip steak. Dry-heat cooking is optimal for these tender cuts.

A fairly fatty cut, the short plate (also known as beef plate) is where we get short ribs and classic skirt steak. The short plate contains cartilage, which makes short ribs ideal for braising, where skirt steak – being a thinner piece of meat, is ideal for quick cooking over high heat.

The most tender of the cuts, the tenderloin, is where we get filet mignon. Since this cut is already very tender, the best way to cook it is using a quick dry-heat method. 

Beef flank is good for braising and can be used for making ground beef, but it’s best when grilled quickly at a high temperature. Be sure to cut this steak thinly and against the grain to avoid it becoming chewy.

Beef round is a leaner cut that is split into a top (inside), bottom (outside), and knuckle (sirloin tip). The top round is best for making roast beef, while the bottom round is ideal for roasting. The knuckle can be made into steaks or roasts.




The neck and back contains a lot of bones and marrow, making them ideal for chicken soup and stock.

The breast is the leanest cut made up of two halves, typically separated and sold as individual breasts. One of the most popular cuts of chicken due to its versatility and health benefits, it is also the most expensive.

Consisting of the drumstick (the chicken’s shins) and thigh, the leg is made up of darker meat that is more tender and juicier than the breast. Chicken legs are a less expensive cut and arguably the most flavourful.

A budget friendly cut and party favourite, the wing is a tasty go-to for appetizers and finger food. There are two types of wings (the flat and the drumette) made up of juicy white meat. 




The jowl is a fatty cut of meat from the pork head. It can be smoked or cured to make smoked meat (similar to bacon, but fattier) but it is most commonly used to make sausage.

Also known as the pork collar, this cut – located at the centre of the pork shoulder – is ideal for slow roasting and smoking.

Despite its misleading name, this is where pork butt comes from. It’s a somewhat tough cut of meat, so it is ideal for slow roasting, smoking, or braising. Aside from pulled pork, pork butt is also great for making sausages or ground pork.

The picnic shoulder is located below the pork butt. Since it’s also a tougher cut, smoking or curing is the best way to cook it unless you are grinding it to make ground pork or sausages.

Hocks (also known as shanks) are not typically prepared and served on their own, but rather smoked and used to enhance soups and stocks.

More commonly known as ‘fatback’, this cut is exactly what it sounds like: the hard fat from the back of the pig. It is used to add fat, moisture, and most importantly flavour in sausages and ground pork.

A favourite of the primal cuts, this is where we get the delectable tenderloin, which can be roasted whole or cut into chops or cutlets.

The various cuts of ribs include spareribs, baby back and country-style. Spareribs, found at the lower section of the ribs, has a tender and chewy texture, but is less meaty than the baby back ribs. The country-style pork ribs are the meatiest and are best cooked low and slow on the grill. 

Located on the underside of the belly, this fatty cut is where we get the delicious pork belly, as well as the salt cured (and often smoked) popular bacon.

Located on the hind leg, this is where we get ham. Fresh ham is usually cured, aged, or smoked before whole roasting, but it can also be cut into steaks.

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