I need a cut of beef with very specific requirements. I'm interested in bone first:

  1. It should have it medullary cavity approximately in the size of a small finger.
  2. It should have compact (dense, cohesive) bone walls as thick as possible.
  3. It should be cut perpendicularly to the bone, in a way that does not create fracture.

Seasoning and cooking it to preserve bone strength may be a follow up question, but it is out of scope for now. Now I want to know:

What cut I should ask a butcher for?

I want meat and bone, for specific aesthetic purpose. I want it to be edible, but artistic vision comes first.

  • This is confusing @Molot, you say you want compact bone walls, but thick. Compact and thick are opposite, what are you asking here? Also, how do you plan to cook it?
    – GdD
    May 15, 2018 at 9:25
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    Most common dish with this, the italian ossobuco (in Europe at least) - maybe that gives you some ideas for preparation.
    – Daniel
    May 15, 2018 at 12:53
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    @Mołot I’m quite curious, so would you indulge me: what are you trying to create? May 15, 2018 at 15:13
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    Yeah, you want veal shanks.
    – Strawberry
    May 15, 2018 at 16:16
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    Whoa, thanks for making it Hot Network Question, guys! I didn't think it'll be so popular. I just had this one little weird issue...
    – Mołot
    May 16, 2018 at 11:37

3 Answers 3


You're doing it wrong™.

Your question is, essentially, "What code-word should I use to tell my butcher to give me a cut of beef with properties X, Y and Z?" Don't do that. Just go to your butcher and describe what you want.

Quite apart from anything else, the cuts of meat that, say, a British butcher understands will be different to the ones that and American butcher understands and you haven't told us what language your butcher speaks.

  • 1
    In spanish: zancarrón or jarrete. :)
    – roetnig
    May 15, 2018 at 18:44
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    This sounds like it'd work well if you have a knowledgeable butcher with no language barrier and no motivation to rip you off, but if you can't rely on your butcher for help, you may need to figure out what to ask for without them. May 15, 2018 at 23:19
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    @user2357112 If you don’t trust the person you’re working with, all the bets are off anyway. And, if they’re going to rip you off, I don’t see how your knowing the name of the cut of meat would change that. May 16, 2018 at 7:44
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    @user2357112: if you can't rely on your butcher for help, you need to find a proper butcher!
    – Daniel
    May 16, 2018 at 12:01
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    @Daniel Easier said than done! Real, properly trained butchers, like many other small retailers, are becoming rare in the Western world. Where I used to live, in Berlin, most butchers sold pre-cut meat, and finding a competent butcher was no small hassle (it’s somewhat better where I live now, but in food-related crafts are worse, e.g. bakers). May 16, 2018 at 15:09

If you are looking for a bone-in cut of beef for an aesthetic purpose then it would be hard to do better than beef shin, also known as shank. It has a good, strong bone with a cavity and the bone will be cut straight across. It's also very flavorful meat.

The consideration with it is cooking, shin is very tough and requires low and slow with moisture, typically braising for at least 2.5 hours.

  • 3
    I was thinking beef shank, too. Just wanted to add that Molot may want to request a whole or half shank (depending on the overall size). Most of what I normally see in the grocery store is typically sliced into approximately 1.5" - 2" thick pieces.
    – Cindy
    May 15, 2018 at 12:39
  • True @Cindy, generally 1-2 inch pieces are what you want! The OP isn't really clear about the look that's needed, so that may or may not work.
    – GdD
    May 15, 2018 at 15:10
  • Specifically Shank cross cut. May 16, 2018 at 15:43

I believe an arm roast is what you are after: enter image description here For cooking purposes note that this is a "roast" (and not just a 'big honk'in steak') and is suitable for a low & slow cook time in a crock pot but not just 'throwing it on the grill'.

  • If that is a little too big, you should consider getting a cur of leg of lamb. That's smaller. Unless it screws with the artistic vision of course. May 16, 2018 at 10:41
  • @HaakonLøtveit OP asks specifically for beef
    – Cos Callis
    May 16, 2018 at 14:09
  • He also said "I want meat and bone, for specific aesthetic purpose. I want it to be edible, but artistic vision comes first." May 23, 2018 at 6:42

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