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Book on Butchering/Meats

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#1 FaustianBargain

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Posted 17 January 2005 - 05:53 PM

Costs add up quickly in a kitchen when you buy pre cut pieces from the butcher. I do know how to recognise individual parts of the hooved creatures and our training only included 'trimming' them(rack of lambs, deboning shoulder/leg etc). Fish and fowl, I can dismantle with my eyes closed. I am looking for some kind of book that explains how to break down an entire animal. Slaughter techniques are not what I am looking for, but I suppose they'd be part of butchery? I found this upon googling. Anyone familiar with this one? Any other books out there?

#2 Really Nice!

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Posted 17 January 2005 - 06:26 PM

The Meat Buyers Guide by the north american meat processors association takes you through:

skeletal chart
primal cuts
foodservice cuts

for beef, lamb, veal, and pork.

It is a pictoral illustration of the Institutional Meat Purchase Specifications and includes pictures of each cut. For beef, that's about 100 different items from the carcass of a cow.

While it doesn't show how and where to cut, it does tell you where one piece begins and where another ends. For example, "Item 103, beef rib primal. The primal rib is that portion of the forequarter remaining after excluding the cross-cut chuck and short plate and shall contain seven ribs (6th to 12th inclusive)... ...The loin end shall follow the natural curvature of the 12th rib..."

I noticed the link you provided is for amazon UK. If that's where you are located, you might want to find something local as the butchers from these two areas tend to cut meat differently from each other.
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#3 Fat Guy

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Posted 17 January 2005 - 07:01 PM

I think the NAMP book is great, as is Ubaldi's meat book, but I would love to hear about actual butchering books. The one mentioned by FaustianBargain sounds good. Are you in the UK, then? That might also make a difference in terms of what is applicable to you.

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#4 Moopheus

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Posted 17 January 2005 - 07:27 PM

Good luck. There are good books on meat/charcuterie, but good books on butchering itself are scarce. (I don't know anything about the one FB linked to.) We don't have any in our library, and the librarian has been looking for some time. In fact, if anyone has a suggestion, I'd like to know too.
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#5 FaustianBargain

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Posted 17 January 2005 - 07:36 PM

Thank you, all.

Yes, I am in the UK. But I am interested in knowing about the different cuts...French, American and British.

Wondering if there is such a thing as 'butchery certification'? some such thing?

#6 Suzanne F

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Posted 17 January 2005 - 08:05 PM

There probably IS certification by a meat-cutters' union. Here in the U.S., such a union might be part of the Teamsters, who seem to have locals in many different parts of the grocery business. Certification might only be done through apprenticeship and practical examination. Whether or not there is a text available, though, I don't know. But that's the source I would look to here, and also in the U.K.

Edited to add: I'm also very interested in this, because such a book would be helpful to me in my work, if I am ever lucky enough to do another "translation." For now, the most I've found is only Frances Bissell's The Book of Food, which discusses American/English/French cuts. But to find a source with both descriptions AND pictures, now that would be great!

Edited by Suzanne F, 17 January 2005 - 08:10 PM.


#7 chefzadi

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Posted 17 January 2005 - 10:34 PM

Costs add up quickly in a kitchen when you buy pre cut pieces from the butcher. I do know how to recognise individual parts of the hooved creatures and our training only included 'trimming' them(rack of lambs, deboning shoulder/leg etc). Fish and fowl, I can dismantle with my eyes closed. I am looking for some kind of book that explains how to break down an entire animal. Slaughter techniques are not what I am looking for, but I suppose they'd be part of butchery? I found this upon googling. Anyone familiar with this one? Any other books out there?

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Are you trying to cut costs in a commercial kitchen or a home kitchen?
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#8 snowangel

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Posted 17 January 2005 - 10:42 PM

I asked my dad about this today. He grew up on a farm in Nebraska -- they had cattle, pigs and chickens.

He grew up butchering and cutting up whole animals. He said that while a book might be good, he learned far more by actually cutting up the cow. He did say that when he started out, there were books available showing the anatomy of these animals, but until you get your hands and knives in there, they are merely guides.
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#9 chefzadi

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Posted 17 January 2005 - 10:54 PM

I asked my dad about this today.  He grew up on a farm in Nebraska -- they had cattle, pigs and chickens.

He grew up butchering and cutting up whole animals.  He said that while a book might be good, he learned far more by actually cutting up the cow.  He did say that when he started out, there were books available showing the anatomy of these animals, but until you get your hands and knives in there, they are merely guides.

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Thanks for bringing this up. My sugestion would be to apprentice with a butcher for those who really want to learn the techniques. I grew up butchering whole animals. But as a professional chef it's not a skill that was ever necessary.
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#10 phifly04

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Posted 17 January 2005 - 11:04 PM

http://www.chipsbooks.com/meatbuy.htm This might not be definitive,but it might help a lot.
chef zadi said "Thanks for bringing this up. My sugestion would be to apprentice with a butcher for those who really want to learn the techniques I grew up butchering whole animals. But as a professional chef it's not a skill that was ever necessary."
Im seriously contemplating just this.There is a farm not far from my house that sells whole carcasses broken down for those with the freezer space,Could be a good experience for the 3-4 months till the restaurant opens again
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#11 chefzadi

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Posted 17 January 2005 - 11:27 PM

http://www.chipsbooks.com/meatbuy.htm This might not be definitive,but it might help a lot.
chef zadi said "Thanks for bringing this up. My sugestion would be to apprentice with a butcher for those who really want to learn the techniques I grew up butchering whole animals. But as a professional chef it's not a skill that was ever necessary."
Im seriously contemplating just this.There is a farm not far from my house that sells whole carcasses broken down for those with the freezer space,Could be a good experience for the 3-4 months till the restaurant opens again
                  Dave s

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Dave, my brother it's good to see you here. If you have the chance to apprentice with a butcher by all means do it. A great chef/cook has a firm grasp of the artistry and bloodiness of food.
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#12 FaustianBargain

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 02:37 AM

i am thinking of a commerical kitchen.

Costs add up quickly in a kitchen when you buy pre cut pieces from the butcher. I do know how to recognise individual parts of the hooved creatures and our training only included 'trimming' them(rack of lambs, deboning shoulder/leg etc). Fish and fowl, I can dismantle with my eyes closed. I am looking for some kind of book that explains how to break down an entire animal. Slaughter techniques are not what I am looking for, but I suppose they'd be part of butchery? I found this upon googling. Anyone familiar with this one? Any other books out there?

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Are you trying to cut costs in a commercial kitchen or a home kitchen?

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Edited by FaustianBargain, 18 January 2005 - 02:42 AM.


#13 FaustianBargain

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 02:41 AM

I asked my dad about this today.  He grew up on a farm in Nebraska -- they had cattle, pigs and chickens.

He grew up butchering and cutting up whole animals.  He said that while a book might be good, he learned far more by actually cutting up the cow.  He did say that when he started out, there were books available showing the anatomy of these animals, but until you get your hands and knives in there, they are merely guides.

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snowangel, i completely agree with your dad. but when you dont have a large supply of your own livestock to test your skills, books can reduce costly mistakes and the time it takes to get it right. they are only a guide, but i like to think of them as very useful guides. i also feel that watching someone do it expertly will help. whole sides of animals can be expensive to try one's learning skills.

teaching aids made of artificial material can help too...like in medical anatomy classes..but even then the blood and gore aspect will be missing...but it can be useful.

#14 chefzadi

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 08:23 AM

i am thinking of a commerical kitchen.

Costs add up quickly in a kitchen when you buy pre cut pieces from the butcher. I do know how to recognise individual parts of the hooved creatures and our training only included 'trimming' them(rack of lambs, deboning shoulder/leg etc). Fish and fowl, I can dismantle with my eyes closed. I am looking for some kind of book that explains how to break down an entire animal. Slaughter techniques are not what I am looking for, but I suppose they'd be part of butchery? I found this upon googling. Anyone familiar with this one? Any other books out there?

View Post


Are you trying to cut costs in a commercial kitchen or a home kitchen?

View Post

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I figured it was for a commercial kitchen, but I wanted a confirmation before I put in my tuppence.

First of all, it's a good thing that you are already thinking about costs. As I mentioned butchering was not a skill that I ever used as a cook/chef but my knowledge of cuts did come in handy when I was working in South Korea. I had to explain to the local butcher how to do French cuts. I've also worked in France, The U.K and the States. You never know where your career trajectory will take you.

I don't think that butchering your own meat is an efficient way of cutting costs in a commercial kitchen. It takes up too much precious kitchen and storage space. Even if you just get a portion of the carcass it's still a very labor and time intensive process. Even if you are lucky enough to have a huge commercial kitchen with ample cold storage, in all likelyhood you will have parts of the animal that sell out quickly and other parts that no one ever wants. There are also possible health code issues that need to be considered.

There are other ways to lower costs and raise profit margins. Which I would be more than happy to explain in further detail if anyone is interested.
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#15 FaustianBargain

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Posted 19 January 2005 - 08:40 AM

When we did a dinner party, we got a price list from the school's meat suppliers(Allan's of Mayfair, iirc..hmm..or maybe it was someone else). There was way too much cash to be lost. Also, when you get a side of animal, you get all the other 'non premium'/less tender bits/bones attached. They can be used for other dishes. I simply cannot accept that buying piece rate from the butcher while running a restaurant can be even 'sorta/kinda' preferable. Also, I am not willing to wait around, peer from behind someone and watch to learn. Being knowledgeable and having practical experience is a marketable skill, as far *I* am concerned. If there were some sort of butchery certification course, I'd take it in a heartbeat.

I am always interested in knowing about ways to lower costs and raise profit margins. Please do tell.

#16 chefzadi

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Posted 19 January 2005 - 08:57 AM

When we did a dinner party, we got a price list from the school's meat suppliers(Allan's of Mayfair, iirc..hmm..or maybe it was someone else). There was way too much cash to be lost. Also, when you get a side of animal, you get all the other 'non premium'/less tender bits/bones attached. They can be used for other dishes. I simply cannot accept that buying piece rate from the butcher while running a restaurant can be even 'sorta/kinda' preferable. Also, I am not willing to wait around, peer from behind someone and watch to learn. Being knowledgeable and having practical experience is a marketable skill, as far *I* am concerned. If there were some sort of butchery certification course, I'd take it in a heartbeat.

I am always interested in knowing about ways to lower costs and raise profit margins. Please do tell.

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Before I answer I should ask you what type of restaurant you are interested in working in or opening. Fine dining? Casual? What type of cuisine?

Also most people consider being knowledgeable and having pratical experience to be marketable.
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#17 FaustianBargain

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Posted 19 January 2005 - 09:19 AM

Before I answer I should ask you what type of restaurant you are interested in working in or opening. Fine dining? Casual? What type of cuisine?


i am looking for general principles of cutting costs and raising profit margins.

edited to add: if it is not about butchery, then I think we should take it up a fresh topic elsewhere?

Edited by FaustianBargain, 19 January 2005 - 09:20 AM.


#18 Jinmyo

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Posted 19 January 2005 - 09:39 AM

Books, feh.

What are the best butchery websites?
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#19 chefzadi

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Posted 19 January 2005 - 09:45 AM

Before I answer I should ask you what type of restaurant you are interested in working in or opening. Fine dining? Casual? What type of cuisine?


i am looking for general principles of cutting costs and raising profit margins.

edited to add: if it is not about butchery, then I think we should take it up a fresh topic elsewhere?

View Post


You should learn the general principles in school. Without a specific type of restaurant in mind my answers would be too broad. hence redundent.

As for butchery. In closing I'd like to mention

Carcass pluss the cost of in house labor and storage equals the finished cost of product.
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#20 FaustianBargain

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Posted 19 January 2005 - 04:35 PM

You should learn the general principles in school. Without a specific type of restaurant in mind my answers would be too broad. hence redundent.


Yes. No problem, though. Just wanted to hear your side of it because you offered.

#21 Tim White

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Posted 24 January 2005 - 05:03 PM

Butchery books are hard to find. Good ones are even harder - we despair of finding worthwhile ones - we'd love to hear of any good ones.

The Larousse Gastronomique 4th Ed has good diagrams for French, US & UK cuts - look under beef, veal, lamb etc

The Mettler book is a US publication (the author is ex US Army) - aimed at the basic home butcher/hunter - its ok for breaking down a carcass but doesn't have detailed diagrams etc

The best butchery instructions we've seen recently are in Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's books - River Cottage Cookbook (amazing detail on what to do on slaughter day etc) and The River Cottage Meat Cookbook

The Time Life Good Cook Vols: Beef & Veal; Lamb; Offal; Pork; Poultry all have good diagrams & basic trimming instructions with good photos.

Doesn't the CIA do a butchery video (probably expensive)?

There is an Australian Home Butchery book again fairly basic - aimed at the small farm butcher. Also our trade schools do videos (PAL - not dvds or NTSC) which teach basic british & european butchery
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#22 FaustianBargain

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Posted 24 January 2005 - 08:04 PM

The best butchery instructions we've seen recently are in Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's books - River Cottage Cookbook (amazing detail on what to do on slaughter day etc) and The River Cottage Meat Cookbook


Thanks. I will look it up at the bookstore tomorrow.

The Time Life Good Cook Vols: Beef & Veal; Lamb; Offal; Pork; Poultry all have good diagrams & basic trimming instructions with good photos.


The old 70s Time Life series? They are wonderful! Quaint, but wonderful and *very* useful.

#23 Daniel

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 08:46 PM

Looking for a book with really instructive and helpful photos.. Wide range of animals.. Tieing and stuffing help would be a plus..

Thank you.

#24 winesonoma

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 08:59 PM

Basic book is "Cutting up in the Kitchen", Merle Ellis. Out of print but available. Less than $10 usually.
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#25 Daniel

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 09:09 PM

Nice, just added it to my Amazon Cart.. 89 cents.. Are there any photos? I would like a few more books for order.. Would love more help..

Edited by Daniel, 07 December 2005 - 09:16 PM.


#26 winesonoma

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 09:33 PM

Drawings not photos. Guy was my local butcher in the early 70's.
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#27 Chris Amirault

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 09:38 PM

I'm too pooped to find it, but isn't there a fairly new book from a very animal-friendly butcher guy?

Yep, that description ought to really help.
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#28 Daniel

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 10:00 PM

Oh you me the guy with the shoulders? :biggrin:

Chris, I think I need to take a drive up to that place you took those awesome photos for the fried chicken cook off.. I think hanging out there for a few hours would teach me more then a book..

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#29 Mallet

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Posted 08 December 2005 - 06:24 AM

I'm too pooped to find it, but isn't there a fairly new book from a very animal-friendly butcher guy?

Yep, that description ought to really help.

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Are you talking about "The River Cottage Meat Book" by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall? It's not really a butchering book though (although there is some useful information there).
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#30 handmc

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Posted 08 December 2005 - 06:54 PM

Daniel

The best way to learn is to go to one of the last great shops in the area, which you still have in NYC and and offer to trade a few days of free labor for instruction. It privides an opportunity for someone to get a few hours off. It should not take much to convince them.

I learned at the business end of a knife and while books are ok there is no substitute.

If they have any question bring a pack of your OINK pictures. They will welcome you with open arms.

It is really neat to learn how to break down a pig, cow, lamb or chicken first hand. You, I'm sure, will be a pro the first day.

P.S. the knives will scare the shit out of you....then you will never want to be without them. Tiny cuts with a knife half the size of your arm, I still don't get it.

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