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Slice and dice

(article, Ashley Griffin Gartland)

In Bill Buford's bestselling memoir Heat — the subtitle, "An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany," says it all — the author describes his experience purchasing, butchering, and (nearly) eating an entire 225-pound pig in his own kitchen.

I'm not exactly eager to try my hand at home butchering. But Buford's story revealed a weakness in my culinary vocabulary: I can't tell a top round from a rump roast. Names don't, um, cut it. I need visuals.

[%image beefdiagram float=right size=small caption="Gourmet Sleuth's beef diagram."]

Fortunately, at least two websites supplement Butchering 101-type lessons with diagrams. The Online Knowledge Magazine's cuts-of-beef diagram lets you assemble a cow by meat cut, just like a puzzle. Stumped? Click on "Give Up" and let the site do the work for you.

Gourmet Sleuth provides similar charts for both beef and pork. Below the diagrams, you'll find a list of all the cuts that come from each part of the animal.

Finally, for the ultimate reference you'll need the hefty The River Cottage Meat Book, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's ode to the animal. The pictures are a bit graphic, but the diagrams and explanations are worth it.

beefdiagram, l