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The Craft of Butchering


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it seems that what is old is becoming new again, from the once trendy hangar steak to the new star the flat iron steak.

what else is hidden, not being used, under utilized: odd cuts, hidden parts, offal?

similarly, what is being currently misused or mislabeled in the butchering world?

finally, what do you forsee in the future of prime meat, american kobe beef, the wagyu stock and the rest?

please feel free to comment on pork, lamb and other animals as well, your knowledge is vast and i could certainly learn from it.



h. alexander talbot

chef and author

Levittown, PA


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Some animal parts (e.g., cheeks, hocks, neck meat, etc.) that do not

appeal to American palates are appreciated by other cultures ... which

leads us to exports markets for these parts.

Keep an eye on innovative chefs and leading-edge restaurants that push

the envelope in their search for new ingredients and new preparations.

Less-used products will always be hard to come by until consumer demand

reaches the point where it makes sense for retailers to offer them on a

consistent basis.

I think there will be continued debate and urging of the USDA to

amend and strengthen the definitions of natural, organic, etc., so

labeling is stricter and more consistent.

There is also some controversy over the use of "american kobe" and other

similar and somewhat misleading terms to describe wagyu beef raised

outside of Kobe, Japan. The fact is that kobe, like the term champagne,

is an appellation. In other words, champagne can only come from the

champagne region of France; otherwise it is sparkling wine or methode


Wagyu is a breed stock. Wagyu cattle can only be called Kobe if it is

raised in Kobe, Japan, in accordance with that prefecture's regulations.

So, while all Kobe beef is Wagyu, all Wagyu beef is not Kobe beef.

Whether you're talking about prime or wagyu, both are niche products

at the highest end of the beef spectrum. Production of prime is only two

percent of all beef produced in this country. Wagyu production is even

smaller. Therefore, on price and availability, they will remain niche

products for those who can afford them.

In the coming years, we may see a more diverse range of beef from

different origins: argentine beef, Alberta beef, Piedmontese beef,

Charolais beef, as well as pure-bred varieties of lamb, pork, etc... But

these, too, will remain high-end niche products.


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