Friday, November 1, 2013

Round, Rump and Sirloin

US Style 
  I recently had a student from Australia and we were going over the beef primal and subprimal cuts in class. It gets complicated enough for my US students and they sometimes struggle to memorize every cut but this guy from Australia was at a further disadvantage. In England or any country that is influenced by it such as Australia or New Zealand, beef is cut differently than in the US and the names for each cut are not the same either. Many of the English terms don't exist in the US. In fact around the world we find different cultures dividing meats in a variety of separation points on the carcass. In this article I will attempt to explain some of the English cuts and compare them to the US style. I'm not sure why, here in the US, we strayed from the English cutting styles but it might date back to early times when we rejected many English traditions after our war for independence.

  Here is a short list of cuts that are "translated" from English.
English Style
I'll list the US style first followed by the English.
Top Round = Topside
Bottom Round = Silverside
Shank = Leg
Knuckle = Thick Flank
Top Sirloin = Rump
Foreshank = Shin
Striploin = Sirloin
Export Rib = Fore rib and part of striploin
Plate = Thin Rib ( sort of )

The confusion between the two cutting styles happens when certain terms are used for different cuts. The most confusing is the difference between the striploin and the sirloin. The US striploin is often cut into the very popular NYstrip steak. In England it is known as the sirloin and cut into sirloin steaks. The trouble with that is in the US we have a different cut known as the sirloin from which we cut sirloin steaks, more specifically, top sirloin steaks. Very confusing....especially for those who travel or need to purchase meats for restaurants in other countries. I often see menus here in the US featuring a grilled "sirloin" or NY "sirloin" when what is actually being sold is the striploin. This may be the result of  Our US sirloin is known as the rump in England. The rump is used for steaks or roast there but here in the US we find a "rump" roast. More confusion...the rump roast here is actually the thicker end of the bottom round! In Canada the cuts are fabricated the same as here in the US but we find instead of using the term "round" for the back leg, they use the term "hip". All the rest of their terminology is exactly the same as here in the US.
  An excellent resource for researching the different beef and other animal cuts from around the globe is a book written by Howard Swartland, published by Nottingham University Press called Meat and Muscle Cuts. But the only way to really get a feel for how meat is divided and named in another country is to go and see it done in a butcher shop or processing plant.


  1. Based on what I've been taught here in Canada, what you've labeled as bottom sirloin, we would call the sirloin tip. And yes, your "round" would translate to our primal "hip"...the portion left hanging on the rail after the loin has been removed. The long loin is the primal and is split into the short loin and the sirloin. The hip has the sirloin tip "scooped" or "seamed" out and then the three rounds are seamed in to the top/inside round, bottom/outside round and the eye of round (I still, on occasion, meet old timer, backwoods meat cutters who will cut the large, all encompassing, three muscle "round steak" complete with leg bone in the middle - I was helping a farmer cut a beef in his work shop once...he insisted on having me cut the large steaks on a saw and then proceeded to split them up into three steaks, throwing away the bone!!).

    I remember most of the nomenclature but some stuff is starting to fade...I took a 19 week Meat Processing course in 1999 and have since spent a number of years driving truck and eventually getting a degree, becoming a teacher. Some of the industry labeling conventions may have changed since then as well.

    1. Hello, Yes the Sirloin Tip is also known as the Knuckle here in the US. I haven't seen that Round steak in years! Thanks for the comments.

  2. Thank you for your blog! It may only be a hobby for me but I still can appreciate what others write about the art of meat processing. I especially liked your piece on grass fed beef. So true. I've had too many bad dining experiences on poorly finished beef.