Dec 2016 10

A meat eaters guide to muscle

By: Dave Wheeler

So, if you're vegetarian or vegan, forgive me... you might want to take a pass on this blog. This one is for the carnivores amongst us.

 

The tenderness of muscles

The most tender cuts of meat on animals come from the least used muscles. I've mentioned the beef tenderloin before (in the blog, Dead Meat) - a muscle that's not used much at all in cow, but which in humans (as the psoas) is used all the time. In beef, tenderloin is exactly that - tender; whereas on humans it'd be as rough as old boots.

Believe it or not tenderness  isn't just in the taste buds of the beholder. There is a scientific  test  to measure tenderness objectively, called the Warner-Bratzler test.

It's worth pointing out again that the meat we eat, whether it's chicken breast, spare ribs or leg of lamb is actually muscle of the animal.

The table below ranks some of the main muscles of the cow for tenderness - the most tender being at the top. The list isn't exhaustive, but it gives you an idea. 

 

Tenderness

Muscle

Cut of beef

Equivalent par of human body

Tender

 

 

 

 

Psoas Major

tenderloin

pelvis

 

Infraspinatus

top blade, flat iron, triangle

shoulder

Intermediate

Teres major

shoulder tender, petite tender

shoulder

 

Rectus Femoris

centre knuckle

quads

 

Internal Obliques

sirloin butt flap

abdomen

 

Longissimus

ribeye

back

 

Rectus Abdominus

flank

abdomen

 

Quadriceps Femoris

knuckle

quads

 

Semimembranosus

top side

hamstrings

Tough

Pectoralis

brisket

chest

 

Gluteus medius

top sirloin

bum

 

Vastus lateralis

side knuckle

quads

 

Trapezius

outside chuck

back

 

Whether or not the same muscles would be tender for us if Hannibal Lecter struck, would depend on our work, our posture and what sort of exercise we did.

Happy meat-eating!