One of the things we may take for granted as someone who may not belong to the Latinx community may surprise you. Did you know that many newly arrived in the United States encounter confusion at the meat counter or butcher? The contents in our glassed-in meat counters in the Mercado don’t often resemble any of the cuts Latinx cooks may use. The basic cuts of meat aren’t so different, but the way they are broken down is very different.
The opposite can be pretty accurate for those seeking to learn to cook and create a more authentic Latinx food. One way to start recreating these foods is to have the perfect cuts of meat for making authentic Latinx food. So, where do we begin when looking for those ideal cuts of meat?
Cuts of Beef
This meat cut is from the topmost part of the forequarter, used in chuck roasts, and can be bone-in or bone out. The upper part of the chuck cut, directly behind the head, can be used for making fortified beef broth. This cut is used for chuck steak and pot roasts. The rest of the cut, simply called diezmillo is also known as cross rib pot roast or boneless English roast and is from the bottom part of this cut. Chances are these cuts are most likely ready to be used for milanesas, bisteces, or carne paras guisar (stew meat.)
Milanesas are super thin-sliced beef cuts coated in breadcrumbs to create a crispy and golden crust. Bisteces or carne paras guisar are pieces perfect for beef stews.
Cupim, or beef hump, is a cut of meat that comes from the Brazillian Zebu cattle. It is a tender, rich, and marbled cut of beef. However, getting your hands on authentic Cupim for an authentic Brazillian dish may be pretty tricky. A cut of chuck beef is a worthy substitute that can be stewed or roasted in churrascos, or churrascarias, a type of Brazilian steakhouse popular for its unique buffet serving method.
Flank Steak: Carne Asada.
For the best authentic Carne asada, the cut of beef you’ll be looking for is a flank or skirt steak. This cut of beef is marinated then grilled to perfection, and the flavors all rely on the marinade used. This is often paired with fresh tortillas to make mouth-watering steak tacos.
Flank Steak: Carne Desmechada o Ropa Vieja
Flank steak also features prominently in the Colombian recipe for Carne Desmechada or Ropa Veija, a shredded beef dish that is easy to make and perfect over rice or as a filling for tacos and empanadas. This dish uses tomato paste, Hogao, or Colombian Creole Sauce. After the flank steak has been cooked in water on medium heat for roughly an hour, the steak is shredded and placed in a saucepan with the Hogao.
Veal Shank: Ossobuco
Ossobuco or osso buco is a specialty hailing from Lombard cuisine, featuring cross-cut veal shanks braised with vegetables, white wine, and broth. Often it will be garnished with gremolata, a green sauce made of chopped parsley, lemon zest, and garlic. Ossobucco is often paired with Risotto alla Milanese, a specialty of Milan made with beef stock, beef bone marrow, lard, and cheese which is then flavored and colored with saffron. Or, it can be served with polenta, a dish of boiled cornmeal of either yellow maize, buckwheat, white maize, or mixtures thereof.
Cuts of Pork
Pork Shoulder or Pork Butt: Carnitas
Carnitas are created by braising cuts of Pork Shoulder or Pork Butt, cuts with plenty of marbling, to keep the meat moist yet be able to withstand long cooking times at lower temperatures. Pork butt and pork shoulder are cut from the same section of the pig: the shoulder, which on average can range from 15 to 30 lbs of meat. Other names that are frequently used refer to meat cut from the same area, which all hold the same characteristics that are an excellent choice for carnitas as well:
- Boston butt
- Boston shoulder
- Boston butt roast
- Shoulder roast
- Picnic or picnic shoulder
Pork Chile Verde
Pork shoulder is also a select cut that features prominently in authentic recipes for making Pork Chile Verde. Chile Verde consists of tomatillos, jalapenos, poblano, serranos, and garlic roasted in the oven. Next, the pork shoulder is cut into bite-sized pieces and seared on all sides, then pork and chile verde are mixed and simmered for at least two hours, resulting in a tender, flavorful chile.
Haitian Griot (Pork bits) is a popular main dish served in many Haitian households. Pork shoulder, or pork picnic cut, is the star of this recipe, wherein it is cut, then marinated, and further either boiled, fried in oil, or roasted in an oven. The other key ingredients to an authentic Griot are the use of lime juice and sour orange juice. Griot is often served with Pikilz or Sauce Ti Malice.
The world of Latinx food is as diverse and filled with as many varieties as there are people. It wouldn’t be possible for us to list every cut of meat and every dish it could be used for. However, we hope that this article can help you journey into more authentic recipes and cooking to experience the flavors found in Latin America, South America, and Central America. When it comes to finding these perfect cuts of meat for authentic Latinx food, you won’t have to go very far, luckily.
At Wholey’s, we always strive to provide you with today’s most premium cuts of meats, the freshest seafood items, and other fantastic food products to help make mealtimes more flavorful and more accessible than ever. We stock a wide variety of beef, pork, chicken, and seafood, and specialty items that many might find troublesome to find elsewhere.
When you order from us, freshness, flavor, and high-quality meats are always guaranteed, delivered right to your door! Serving customers and families since 1912, we’re humbled and proud to be able to inspire still new dishes, new flavors, and new meals for families around the United States.