During butchering each animal is divided into large “chunks” called primals. In butcher shops and some high-end restaurants you will find personnel who can butcher a whole side of beef. But in today’s supermarkets you will find people called meat cutters who do not cut beef from the side. They only break down beef from these large primal cuts into fabricated cuts that are sold at the retail level. Each primal yields specific market cuts.
As animals move about in the field they exercise their muscles, on a beef the front shoulder area gets a lot of muscle activity. The rear of the animal also gets a lot of movement, but since they walk around forward the front gets more. The most muscle development and consequently the toughest meats, happens in the front legs of the beef. The amount of fat accumulation (which is certainly related to how much activity an animal has had and the type of feed they have been given) determines the grade the animal achieves. The grade determines the price per pound of the animal. The picture shows a piece of Kobe beef with tremendous marbling.
The animals “potential” means how the animal can be butchered to yield the most desirable and expensive cuts. As stated, not every market cut can be derived form each beef. For example a butcher cannot yield a new york steaks, fillet mingons and porterhouse steaks from the same animal. Porterhouse steaks are one cut which combines the new york strip and the fillet into one. If an animal has small fillets then they can be sold more lucratively along with the new york in the porterhouse.
Prime beef is sold in high end restaurants and in quality butcher shops. It is very expensive but very tender and very flavorful. The average home cook would reserve this for a special…