Taste of Savoie demystifies the cuts of meat in France
French meat cuts are somewhat different
French meat cuts were a puzzle to me when I arrived in France ten years ago, but I now feel comfortable visiting my Boucher and ordering most cuts of meat. Although there are some British cuts that don’t directly translate as the meat is cut differently.
French Meat Cuts
As I’ve puzzled over the
Les morceaux du porc
- 01 Échine
- 02-03 Côte première / côte seconde
- 04-05 Filet / côte filet
- 06 Filet mignon
- 07 Pointe filet
- 08-09 Jambon et grillade
- 10 Palette (épaule)
- 11 Jarret arrière
- 12 Jarret avant
- 13-14 Plat de côte / Travers
- 15 Poitrine
- Bacon if thinly sliced is
poitrine, preserved with salt. The French slice their poitrinefairly thickly to make lardons, so you need to ask for the slices to be ‘fine’ (pronounced ‘feen’).
- Poitrine de pork – belly pork
Echine– is between the neck and the first rib above the shoulder – includes the blade bone and spare ribs.
- Épaule is shoulder
- Plat de côtes – where the hand and belly meet
- Filet de porc – pork tenderloin
• If you want your joint with crackling, this should be no problem for your local butcher, but you may need to order it in advance. Ask for the joint ‘avec la couenne’ (pronounced la ‘quwen’).
- joues – cheeks
- Jarret – ham hock
- Palette – short cut leg of pork
- Travers – ribs
Les morceaux de l’agneau
01 Collier d’agneau
02 Côtes découvertes
03-04 Côtes secondes / Côtes premières
05-06 Filet / Côtes filets
07-08 Selle / Gigot raccourci
09-10 Poitrine/ Haut-de-côtes
11-12 Épaule / Épaule roulée
d’agneau– leg of lamb
- Echine – shoulder
- Côtes – chump
- Collet – scrag (end)
- Côtelette – chop usually from the rack of lamb, where the British cutlet comes from
d’agneau– lamb shank
Les morceaux du bœuf
02 Basses côtes
03-04 Entrecôte et côte de bœuf
06 Filet de bœuf
08 Queue de bœuf
09-13 Gîte à la noix, rond de gîte
10-11-12 Tende de tranche / Poire / Merlan
14-15-16-17 Plat de tranche / Rond de tranche / Mouvant
18 Gîte (Jarret arrière)
19 Aiguillette baronne
20 Onglet de bœuf
21 Hampe de bœuf
22 Bavette d’aloyau
23 Bavette de flanchet
25 Plat-de-côtes de bœuf
26-27 Tendron / Milieu de Poitrine
28 Gros bout de Poitrine
29 Macreuse à bifteck
31 Jumeau à bifteck
32 Macreuse à pot-au-feu
33 Jumeau à pot-au-feu
- Bifteck/ steak – steak
- Bavette – undercut – from the skirt, flank steak textured with long muscle fibres
- Basses-côtes – Chuck Steak more like Silverside
- Filet – fillet
- Faux-filet – more like a sirloin
- Steak à hacher – used for steak tartare and steak haché. Steak haché looks like a burger, but it is good quality minced steak pressed. It is usually freshly minced, which is why people are happy to eat them rare. Not comparable to a beef hamburger.
- Rumsteak – rump steak
- Osseline and Onglet – Hanger steak
- Paleron and Macreuse – Shoulder – good for braising
- Pot au Feu – think rib/brisket – for braising
- Entrecôte – fore rib steak
- Tournedos/ filet mignon – tenderloin steak, a chunk of tender steak, usually served quite rare (Saignant) unless otherwise requested. You can get ‘tournedos’ of lamb, too.
One thing that I found strange when I first visited the local boucherie was that the only meat that they will mince is beef. I was once told lamb couldn’t be mince! (but that may have been my ‘malentendu’ (misunderstanding). I was also told it was interdit! but I believe this was for hygiene and food standard reasons. However having befriended my local boucher he told me that if I ask in advance they will mince other meats but they need notice as they only have one mincer and need to clean it down before using for other meats.
Other beef cuts:
- Tête de veau – head of veal
- Langue de bœuf – beef tongue
- Gîte (à la noix) – topside
- Queue – oxtail
- Cou – neck
- Tranche – meaning ‘slice’, implies a steak of any meat other than beef
- Filet/ longue/ aloyau – all words for loin. Loin chop is ‘côte première’
Tartare de Boeuf a great French speciality and when done right is delicious! This is high quality raw beef normally hand-chopped and cut from the tenderloin/filet mignon. It is traditionally served with a raw egg yolk, chopped onion and chive, herbs, capers and mustard, although every recipe is different!
Ordering a steak in a restaurant in France
- Bleu – Done on a very hot grill for one minute on each side.
- Saignant – Meaning bloody. Very rare, but cooked slightly longer on the second side than a bleu steak.
- À point – rare to medium rare. Meaning the steak is cooked a little longer than a saignant (very rare) one.
- Bien cuit – ‘well cooked’. This level will still often have some pinkness in the middle of the meat. A ‘steak bien cuit’ is cooked until the juices run brown on the surface of the steak.
- Très bien cuit – should get you a steak that is totally cooked through! if you can find a French chef that will cook a steak this much!
When ordering lamb or duck you can ask for rosé which means a medium rare.
- Poitrine – the Breast
- Pilon – the lower part of the thigh
- Haut de cuisse – the upper part of the thigh
- Aile – the wing
- Dos – the back
- Cou – the neck
Chicken, duck, goose and others:
- Poulet – chicken
- Poulette/Poussin – young chicken
- Coq – cockerel
- Pintade – guinea fowl
- Dinde – turkey
- Volaille – fowl/ poultry
- Cuisses – thighs
- Magret – breast
- Carcasse – carcasse for making stocks and soups.
- Confit de canard – normally a leg that it is salted and then submerged in its own rendered fat
This post has taken quite some research and I am sure there are many anomalies of meats and cuts I’ve left out. I’ll update this post as I continue on my culinary adventure in France!
Have meat cuts in France left you puzzled? Please leave a comment below if you’ve found this a helpful guide or have anything that you think I can add.
CAUTION: This blog post does not contain cheese!
Why not pin this reference guide for later!