Cuts of Beef for Barbecuing (in French and Italian)

Sorting out the Cuts of Beef Jigsaw in French and Italian !
Beef cuts for barbecue English vs French

My biggest challenge when cooking in a foreign country is buying cuts of Beef. While pork and lamb cuts are easier to recognize, it is not the same for beef cuts. Some pieces are universally known, while others are not.

Besides the difficulties in finding the right name, different countries cut the beef in different portions and sizes.

In England they tend to use more generic names for cuts of Beef (usually larger), while the French on the other hand prefer to use smaller cuts and consequently have a wider variety of names, for example the English Fillet in French becomes: Filet, Chateaubriands, Tournedos, Filets Mignon.

The same cuts of Beef are also sold for various types of dishes across the world, for example, cuts used for stews in one country are used for hamburgers in another.

I decided, therefore, to spend some time sorting out the names of the cuts along with their cooking methods, and created a chart that I can bring to the Supermarket with me.

Here I start with cuts for Barbecuing; the charts can be downloaded at the end of this post.

As a matter of interest, I always cut my meat over a dedicated meat board as it is more hygienic.
I use an Index Chopping Board Set you can find on Amazon (affiliate link)

Each board is colour coded and has a symbol indicating its use e.g. meat (red), fish (blue), vegetables (green), and cooked food (white).
Here are more of my favourite kitchen tools




Fillet, Tenderloin (Eng.), Filet (Fr.), Filetto (It.)
Fillet, Tenderloin (Eng.), Filet (Fr.), Filetto (It.)

1. Fillet, Tenderloin (Eng.), Filet (Fr.), Filetto (It.): It is the prime and most renowned cut of beef, lean with light marbling. It is very tender as the muscle is completely inactive. As it has no fat, it does not have a strong flavour. The side closest to the leg is a less refined cut, and is used for steaks. The Chateaubriand comes from the middle of the filet, while the Tournedos and the Filets Mignon come from the tail end. These cut requires a short cooking time.

2. Short Lion, Steak, T-Bone (Eng.), Cote (with bone) Entrecotes (without bone) (Fr.), Lombata (It.), Roastbeef (It. Milan), Lombo (It. Rome), Trinca (It. Sicily) Located at the end of the ribs over the Filet, it is less tasty and tender than the filet. The famous Florentine Steak is where the Steak is cut with the Filet and the bone. It is a perfect cut for Barbecuing.

Short Lion, Steak, T-Bone (Eng.), Cote (Fr.), Lombata (It.),
Short Lion, Steak, T-Bone (Eng.), Cote (Fr.), Lombata (It.),

Rib (Eng.), Basse Cote, Entrecotes (Fr.), Costata, Braciole, Costa (It.)
Rib (Eng.), Basse Cote, Entrecotes (Fr.), Costata, Braciole, Costa (It.)

3. Rib (Eng.), Basse Cote (Fr.), Costata, Braciole, Costa (It.)
It is the muscle that covers the end of the rib cage, and can be cut with or without the bone. It is very tender, with plenty of fat that gives the meat a lot of flavour when barbecued.

The latest trend is to cut the slices leaving the whole rib bone clean of any fat. Here in Europe this cut is called Tomahawk, named after its shape resembling the Indian Tomahawk. In the USA it is called Boned in Rib Chop or Cowboy Steak

( here I use the red board from Index Chopping Board Set you can find on Amazon via my affiliate link)

Tomahawk 1_2_1

Sirloin (Eng.), Faux Filet (Fr.), Lombata (It.), Tomahawk
Sirloin (Eng.), Faux Filet (Fr.), Lombata (It.), Tomahawk

4. Sirloin (Eng.), Faux Filet (Fr.), Lombata (It.), Roastbeef (It. Milan), Lombo (It. Rome), Trinca (It. Sicily). Situated above the rear end of the filet it is lean and has light marbling. An outer layer of creamy white fat makes it very tasty for Barbecueing. In Italy it is cut together with the Short Lion, and jointly called Lombata.

5. Top Sirloin , Topside (Eng.) Tende de Tranche, Poire, Merlan (Fr.), Fesa (It.), Scannello (It. Rome), Rosa (It. Milan) It is the round central piece of the leg. Lean and with little marbling, it can be cooked in many different ways such as barbecued: braised, pot-roast, roast or steak tartare.

Top Sirloin , Topside (Eng.) Tende de Tranche, Poire, Merlan (Fr.), Fesa (It.)
Top Sirloin , Topside (Eng.) Tende de Tranche, Poire, Merlan (Fr.), Fesa (It.)

Rumpsteak (Eng.), Rumsteak (Fr.), Scamone (It.),
Rump cover, Rumpsteak (Eng.), Rumsteak (Fr.), Scamone (It.)

6. Rump cover, Rumpsteak (Eng.), Rumsteak (Fr.), Scamone (It.), Pezza (It. Roma), Codata (It. Sicily) Called Picanha in Portuguese, it is one of the prime cuts in the Brazilian Churrasco. It is a very tender cut of beef, located at the top of the leg just before the tail.

In some breeds, this cut is covered by a large layer of fat, in the picture the Picanha from Aberdeen Angus breed. The fat melts while cooking, giving a fantastic flavour to the meat.

( here I use the red board from Index Chopping Board Set you can find on Amazon via my affiliate link)

Picanha 3_1_1

Flank Skirt (Eng.), Bavette aloyau (Fr), Bavetta di lombo (It.)
Flank Skirt, Thin rib (Eng.), Bavette aloyau (Fr.), Pancia (It.)

7. Flank Skirt, Thin rib (Eng.), Bavette aloyau (Fr.), Pancia (It.), Scalfo (It. Milano), Spuntatura di lonzo (It. Roma) , Bavetta di lombo (It.) This is a less refined piece of meat, and used to be reasonably priced. It is becoming more popular as it is used in well-known international recipes like Fajitas in TexMex, Fraldinha in the Brasilian Churrasco, Vacío in the Argentinean Asado, and in the Chinese Stir fry beef. As it is a stringy cut of meat full of flavour,  it should be marinated with stronger seasoning to soften it. Once cooked it should be sliced across the grain.

Note: you will find marinating ideas in my next post: The Art of BBQ.

I enjoy trying new cuts of beef and hope that this chart will provide you with some new ideas.

If you want to buy different cuts of meat and you don’t speak the language, find my charts with names translated into French and Italian also for cuts for lamb, Pork, and Sea Monsters (Squids, Pulp, and Cuttlefish).

You can download these charts from free and bring them with you to the supermarket.

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  8 comments for “Cuts of Beef for Barbecuing (in French and Italian)

  1. Anjie
    12th August 2015 at 9:09 am

    Nice article, hope to see a similar one on lamb.

    • Laura
      12th August 2015 at 9:13 am

      Thank you Anjie, Certainly many more articles to come on the subject

  2. Livia
    14th August 2015 at 9:34 pm

    Great and interesting article Laura and very useful chart. I normally get lost in different countries (as well in different italian regions!) and end up cooking always the same cuts!

  3. Marilys
    26th August 2015 at 11:02 am

    Laura, excellent! I have seen many charts in the past, but unless you know what each cut is like, that does not help. You have provided exactly what I needed, a description of the meat itself by cut. Wonderful, thank you!

  4. Gabriella
    1st February 2016 at 7:55 am

    Hi. thanks for it, but it is still generic and very approximate. There are so many other cuts and different principle / way to cook them, while here there is no mention at all of what to use for rostbeaf, to make rolls, or “scaloppine”, “cotolette”, “carne in brodo”, mince meat, different type of stew and so on. Wish it was.

  5. Laura
    1st February 2016 at 8:59 am

    Dear Gabriella,

    Thank you for your feedback. The subject is so vast that it would take a full time job to cover all the cuts, the way to cook them and their respective recipes. The chart is intended for those living abroad who have a recipe in mind, and know which cut to buy in their own language but do not know what it is called in their host country. I started with the most common cuts of beef and will develop this chart further with time. In February I will publish a chart for fish and seafood.
    Any feedback on what subject is more of interest will help me to prioritize!

  6. Luna
    18th May 2018 at 10:58 am

    Dear Laura,
    RE: Beef Cuts for BBQ Italian vs French:
    Thanks for the post. I needed to translate English to Italian for my personal use. The chart above is not easy to read. May I ask you to send it to me via e-mail.

    • Laura
      18th May 2018 at 11:18 am

      Luna, thank you for your interest. The Beef chart and other useful charts are available to download only if you subscribe to my newsletter. You will find the form at the end of the article above. I send only 1 newsletter per week to keep my readers up to date with the recipes or videos I publish during the week, and if you like my blog you will find the newsletter very interesting. If you are concerned about your privacy you can read my Privacy Policy listed on the sign-up form. Follow me at least for 1 week and if you are not interested you can unsubscribe anytime.

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