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Mid-Western Or Chicago Style Of Meat Cutting

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

The mid-western style of cutting, also called the "Chicago style," is most popular throughout the United States and is used throughout most of the middle-west and west. It is unquestionably a very simple method of meat cutting.


The hindquarter is divided into two principal parts-the loin and the round. Where a demand for sirloin steaks exists, this method allows a very large loin to be cut and therefore a proportionately smaller round. However, where a greater demand for round steaks exists, this method of cutting up the hindquarter can be reversed and a very short loin and a large round can be cut out. The thick part of the flank is sold for stew or soup meat, or used for "hamburger" after the flank steaks have been taken out.

The loin is divided into sirloin, T-bone and club steaks. It is typical of the mid-western or Chicago style of cutting that the top sirloin or "sirloin tip" is cut on the sirloin steak. Therefore, sirloin steaks of considerable size may be cut off the loin at the start which is not possible when the "top sirloin" is cut out.

The rump is taken off the round, partly boned and sold as rump pot roast. The round is usually cut up and sold as steaks with the round bone left in. Round steaks consist of the top and also the bottom round. Some retailers who have a large demand for round steaks leave the rump on the round, but take off the aitch bone and the large hip rump bone and start to cut small round steaks with the boneless rump thus left on the round. The heel of the round is sold either for pot roasts, stew or soup meat. The shank is usually sold as soup meat with the bone either left in or taken out as the trade may demand.


The forequarter is cut lengthwise, dividing it into rib roast, chuck, plate, brisket and fore-shank. It is usually cut so that a part of the shoulder shank cuts are on the brisket. The seven ribs are either boned and rolled as is also the plate and the brisket, or sold in pieces with the bone, depending upon trade demand. The forequarter shank is cut up into soup meat or stew meat. The square cut chuck is sold either for steaks or pot roasts. The neck is sold for stewing, soup meat or used for ham-burger. Shoulder pot roasts or arm cuts are cut out of the shoulder cross-ways against the ribs as can be seen in Illustration No. 36.

This method of cutting up a fore-quarter is very flexible. If a demand exists for pot roasts, the chuck can be cut shorter and more shoulder cross cuts or arm cuts are available. From the standpoint of simplicity, the mid-western method is recommended be-cause it requires a minimum amount of cuts and less trimming than any other method.

The test sheets Nos. 1 to 20 for establishing cost and selling prices show in detail an analysis of a typical mid-western or "Chicago style" of cutting. Since this test was made by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics of the United States Department of Agriculture, it may be considered absolutely correct. Illustration No. 37 shows a suggested standard method of cutting up a side of beef.

From the standpoint of fewer cuts, less trimming of meats, the average western or midwestern meat retailer is more fortunate than the Greater New York, Boston, or Providence meat market man, as it is becoming very popular to sell meats untrimmed in the west.

A cutting test is given herewith on a side of beef for comparison, and it will be noted that the amount of waste is comparatively small. This is a cutting test typical of Greater Chicago. It was made in one of the leading downtown markets of that city, and the meats were to he ready for the counter.

While the hindquarter is cut practically along the same lines as shown in the United States Government chart, the forequarter shows a method very popular in the Chicago district. The hindquarter is divided into :

1. Shank

2. Round

3. Rump

4. Sirloin steaks

5. T-Bone steaks

6. Club steaks

The forequarter is divided into :

1. 7-Rib roast

2. Plate

3. Brisket

4. Chuck

5. Shoulder or Arm cuts

6. Fore shank

It will be noted that the names of the cuts differ greatly from those which are more or less popular throughout the United States. This style of cutting differs principally because the large steak cuts, sirloins and rounds, are sold boneless. The short loin is really cut short and the flank very large as can be seen by numbers 6 and 7, Illustration No. 38. The forequarter differs principally in the shoulder cuts and cut No. 6, the thick plate and No. 9, the sticker.

Analysis of the cutting test will show that this side of beef originally weighed 363 pounds. It had a total amount of waste of 88 pounds and 9 ounces or equal to 24.41%. At an estimated prime cost of 18 cents per pound, it will be found that after de-ducting this waste, but without giving credit for same, the actual cost of this side of beef has advanced to 24.48 cents or practically 61 cents per pound more than it originally cost.

Another cutting test on a side of beef weighing 393 pounds cut up Providence style resulted in the following :

Total waste on side 90 lbs. 11 oz.

Total salable meat 301 lbs. 5 oz.

Total Percentage of Waste 23.30%

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