Forequarter Beef Primal Breakdown

Forequarter Beef Cuts Breakdown By A Pro

Breaking down a carcass of beef into its primal cuts is something that I believe can only be done by a skilled butcher. In my opinion there will never be a machine invented that will be able to perform this task (famous last words lol). Beef Carcass Breakdown is an art that should never be lost. Videos further down.

Of course time will be the factor here and I am sure there are many budding researching inventors that have been asked to try and find an answer/solution by some great meat conglomerate to see if such a robot machine can be made all just to save money on employment. But until then…just let the pros do their thing.

A beef forequarter is the front part of a beef carcass (obviously) and there are many techniques to breaking it down into sub-primal cuts. A lot of the breaking down, into sub-primal preparation,  is now done within meat factories, cutting, trimming and packaging into vacuum bags and cartons, for easy delivery to butcher shops and supermarkets all around the world. But there still remains a few specialised gourmet stores that demand whole carcass deliveries to give them a marketing quality advantage.

There are some quality butchers that actually have  a section in their stores where customers can watch professional master butchers breakdown, trim and prepare the meats ready for customers to buy. Watching such mastery in action is a marvel. Just to see how easily and quickly a butcher can use precision cuts and holds to dismantle a carcass and turn the meat into ready portions is something to behold.

Below I have a few videos of master butcher Michael Cross showing how he does it for his store and customers. His is a common technique that many butchers have been trained to perform but each butcher develops their own small adjustments as they journey through work life in the industry.

I have used Michael’s technique throughout my career but I can also breakdown a forequarter on a butchers block. The butchers block technique was a long old process before the hanging style was first thought of. Both work well for me and it all depends on room you had available during those days.

If you’re looking for some tools, knives, benches and machines for some meat cutting, just checkout my PAGE HERE with a list of all your needs. I have put together a hefty list of items that could also make a nice gift for someone in your thoughts.

Watch the 3 parts videos below and things I want you note is how he holds the meat and knife and breaking hook to his advantage to make the work easier. You will hear him mention “cutting through the seam” a few times as well. We butchers have been trained to let the weight of the meat do the heavy lifting (so to speak). By using our knives cutting through the carcasses natural seam muscle structure we conserve energy and also keep the meat sub-primal quality intact for greater yield and profit potential. You will hear Michael mention that as well.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

For more detailed Beef Primal Cuts, I suggest visiting my Beef Cuts Chart page. Here you will see where each sub-primal comes from and and even further breakdown into saleable portion for the retail or food service industries.

Further links on other carcass breakdowns can be found on my other articles below: 

For some of my recipes to try, click HERE…

I hope you have enjoyed my article and hope if you are wanting to breakdown and cut your own meat these videos and pages help you out. If you get stuck some where just drop me a line in the comments below and I will gladly sort you out.


Leave a Reply