By Kari Underly Wiley, August 2011
Historically, many institutions, from hospitals to colleges, operated their own butcher shops until the advent of boxed beef and portion-controlled products.
Still, many chefs enjoy the challenge of cutting meat. With more and more chefs displaying a DIY spirit, growing and pickling their own vegetables or making their own cheese, butchery is coming back in a big way.
The Art of Beef Cutting: A Meat Professional's Guide to Butchering and Merchandising is a good introduction to foodservice professionals looking into doing their own beef cutting or just wanting a better understanding of where those burgers come from.
The author, Kari Underly, is a third-generation butcher. Underly learned cutting skills, business savvy and marketing expertise from her father at Underly's Market, a butcher shop and ice cream parlor in Lydick, IN. At the age of 21, she entered a three-year meat cutting apprenticeship program at an Indiana supermarket.
As a teacher, she educates foodservice operators, chefs, culinary students and retailers on this carnivorous art. And as a consultant, she was involved in the beef industry's development of the Flat Iron Steak and the Denver Cut.
Underly guides readers through all the fundamentals of butchery and the book is illustrated with 450 color photos of every cut, step-by-step instructions on cutting techniques, the best beef-cutting tools as well as cooking methods.
The book begins at carcass level and gets broken down to parts of the animal and individual cuts, from primals, to subprimals, all the way down to good old ground beef.
Aspiring cononoisseurs of beef will find a great go-to guide for deciphering different grades of beef, grain fed vs. grass fed, processing and storage.
Another section hones in on knife safety, which begins with choosing the right tools for each task.