The Primal Cuts of Beef: The Shank and the Plate
It’s easy to forget the shank and the plate cuts of beef. Most people focus - and who can blame them? - on the steaks that come from the sirloin cuts or the versatile dishes powered by beef from the ribs, chuck and round.
Fair enough. But much like the flank, both the shank and the plate have provided less expensive cuts of meat for generations. And that means that cooks have found a lot of interesting uses for the beef to make it last.
Soups. Arrachera. Osso Buco. These are just some of the many interesting dishes that come from the shank and plate primal cuts of beef.
What Are The Primal Cuts of Beef?
So, what do we mean by primal cut? Cattle are divided into different primal cuts. Each provides beef with a different flavor profile. They also are used in a wide variety of dishes associated with certain cuts of beef. Knowing these cuts can help customers make smarter choices when shopping for the beef they want, matching the dish they intend to make with the perfect cut of beef.
The U.S. primal cuts are typically the chuck, rib, loin, round, flank, brisket, plate and shank. Sub-primal cuts are taken from these primal cuts (such as the whole top round from the round) and then cut into portions that are sold to customers.
Where The Shank and Plate Are Located
The shank lies on the leg between the shoulder and the elbow joint. The hind shank runs from the elbow to the ankle. The plate is located directly below the ribs.
Neither is anywhere near the prime cuts you get from areas in the sirloin. But both have become very popular among cooks (and eaters) for different reasons.
Dishes from the Plate
The shank is home to the outside skirt steak, which provides meat for fajitas. The outside skirt is more tender than the inside skirt steak, which comes from the flank primal. Both are used for fajita meat, and you can do the same in your home kitchen.
The plate also produces plate short ribs, which are perhaps best known as the beef short ribs served in kalbi-style restaurants, which is Korean barbecue. Despite the humble origins of the plate short ribs, they are sometimes served as a high-end dish in such restaurants.
Meat from the shank, because of its higher fat content and tenderness, is often sliced thin and used in salads.
Dishes from the Shank
The French know a thing or deux about cooking, and they love soup. Who are we to question their wisdom on these issues? You can create fantastic, hearty bone broths using bones from the shanks. It’s an increasingly popular choice as more people learn about the health benefits of delicious broth.
But that’s hardly the only thing that comes from shank. Its also the source of meat for Osso Buco, the traditional dish from the Lombardy region of Italy that is made with shank meat, often braised with vegetables, white wine and broth.
It’s the choice of many because it cooks well in a slow cooker, something you can set up in the morning and enjoy in the evening. Braised shanks serve as foundation for many meals, seasoned to your taste. The advantage is that the meat cooks for a long period of time, creating fork-tender beef.
Don’t pass by the shank and the plate. For cooks and connoisseurs, both provide an excellent foundation for delicious culinary concoctions.
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