Less Is More
In a portion-controlled world, smaller cuts equal bigger sales
Regional traditions have long shaped American culinary culture, but do they also determine which cuts of beef predominate? Reinhart Foodservice’s John Dvorak, who’s spent the last two decades honing his meat expertise, discusses what’s making the cut nationwide.
Two words are driving the overall trend in beef cuts all over the United States, says Dvorak: portion control. “Cattle are grown larger than ever before, but as the demand for more reasonably sized portions also rises, restaurateurs seek alternative cuts that provide those options.”
The solution is found in smaller cuts like skirt and flank steaks that are more easily portion controlled. Downsizing is also accomplished by slicing individual muscles in half, producing filets instead of full-sized strip steaks and rib-eyes. In some cases, the spinalis muscle is eliminated entirely from the New York lip-on rib-eye to make it smaller and narrower. Beef carcasses are used for individual muscle cuts, fueling the popularity of chuck eye rolls, boneless ribs and chuck short ribs.
Regional differences are defined by Dvorak as follows:
The state’s significant Latin and Asian populations use thinly sliceable cuts, including flank, skirt and tri-tip steaks.
Home of Texas, the nation’s top beef producing state, the Latin influence is also strong here, with use of somewhat historically tougher beef like skirt steak sliced super thinly, ideal for fajitas and other dishes.
In a region that produces some of the nation’s finest cattle, New York strip, porterhouse and T-bone steaks take center of plate honors.
Rib-eyes, tenderloins and sirloin steaks reign.
The workhorse Brahman cattle is influential, but some Southern steakhouses prefer the Midwest’s more tender beef. The primary focus: brisket for the legions of barbecue restaurants.
”The average portion size of a piece of meat a few years ago was 14 pounds to 17 pounds. it’s now 18 pounds to 20 pounds, and for the majority of restaurants, the cost for a 20-ounce steak is way too high.”
- John Dvorak, Corporate Category Manager
Center of the Plate, Reinhart Foodservice