• Chrissie Manion Zaerpoor

Beef Breakdown — Hind Quarters; What Are They?

Updated: Jan 12

What does a quarter beef include? In the drawing above, the front is to the left: the front quarter consists of the chuck, shank, brisket, rib, and short plate. The hindquarter, or "booty quarter," is to the right in this picture, and consists of the loin, the flank, and the round. No doubt about it, the hindquarter is the premium beef. Why? Pat yourself on the lower back, fanny, and thigh—those are the most premium steaks! (We also offer a front quarter, or a split quarter option.)

The rear quarter consists of three major "primal chunks": the loin, the flank and the round. One of the pleasures of ordering your own quarter of beef is getting your favorite steaks cut to just the right thickness, just the right portion size, trimmed just the way you like them, bone-in or boneless as you prefer, and packaged for your household size. While this may seem daunting at first glance, it's actually easier than it sounds. (And we have Farmer's Chrissie's standard favorite cuts available as our "1/8th rear/steaks and burgers" package if you just don't want to mess with it.) Below we'll walk you through the quarter beef cut list for a hindquarter.

The hindquarter contains all the most tender, premium, high-dollar-value cuts of beef but from Kookoolan Farms these are only $1.20/lb. more compared to our split quarter cost. Not only do you get the most premium steaks in a hindquarter, but you also get to specify your own quarter beef cuts with a custom hindquarter (whereas with a split quarter no customization is possible). So yes, it's more expensive than a split quarter but less so than you'd think, with far more of the premium cuts. (Check out our guide to freezer meats, which describes ALL of our beef packages in detail!)

A front quarter, mostly burger, runs about $990. For the same weight, a hindquarter runs about $1200, or 20% more. In general, retail steaks are far more than 20% higher priced compared to ground beef, as you'll see below. (Imagine getting sirloins and T-bones for only 20% more than the price of ground beef!) We also offer the hindquarter in 1/8th and 1/16th portions for those with smaller budgets or smaller freezers. The smaller portion sizes in these small shares make them ideal for one- or two-person households, and the 1/16th fits just on the door of a standard-size household refrigerator/freezer.

Loin Primal Section

The loin section can be cut as Porterhouse and T-bone steaks, any thickness or can be cut as New York Strip steaks and tenderloin. The tenderloin in turn can be cut as one roast, as a few thick steaks, or as filet mignon medallions. With a custom quarter, it's your choice!

The Loin primal section boasts extremely tender cuts that can be prepared quickly, with no need for moist heat or long cooking times. These are great for quick meals: sauté, pan-fry, broil, pan broil, or grill these steaks for quick, easy, and super-delicious weeknight meals or easy, elegant entertaining. When 100% grass-fed steaks are available in stores, you may see individual steaks from this category selling for $18 to $30 a pound:

  • Porterhouse Steak—a very popular steak cut from the rear end of the short loin; the name originated from the days when it was served in public alehouses that also served a dark beer called porter. The porterhouse consists of both tenderloin and strip steak. The tenderloin can be butchered separately as filet mignon.

  • T-bone Steak—cut from the middle section of the short loin; similar to the porterhouse steak but a bit smaller and containing a smaller piece of the tenderloin; usually grilled or pan-fried. Today I called four different New Seasons stores and two Whole Foods stores, and grass-fed t-bone steaks are not available at all, at any price.

  • Tenderloin—often considered the most tender cut of beef; responds well to sauces, meaning the meat does not overpower the flavor of the sauce. It can be cut as the whole strip for a tenderloin roast, or into individual steaks or medallions for filet mignon.

Sirloin Primal Chunk

One Sirloin steak can serve up to 3 people and sirloins are excellent for entertaining and leftovers.

These tender cuts also respond well to sautéing, pan-frying, broiling, pan-broiling, or grilling. 100% grass-fed sirloin steaks run $14 to $18/lb. in stores -- when they're available.

  • Sirloin Steaks—"top sirloin" and "sirloin tip" steaks or roasts are available in a variety of boneless and bone-in cuts, any thickness. Also makes outstanding tender, first-quality kebab or stir-fry meat.

  • Sirloin Tip Roast—excellent when dry roasted or marinated

Flank Primal Chunk

This meat is lean, muscular, and very flavorful. Flank is primarily used for flank steaks, London Broil, and rolled flank steaks. It can also be used for kabobs, bavette, skirt steak, fajita, or stir-fry meat.

  • Flank Steak—this steak has a great flavor, and should be sliced thin against the grain for maximum tenderness.

Round Primal Chunk ("top round" and "bottom round")

The "bottom round" section is an ideal source for stew cubes and pot roasts.

The round consists of lean meat well-suited to long, moist cooking methods and is the least expensive primal of the hindquarter.

  • Top Round—this is the most tender part of the round; it can be prepared as a pot roast or cut into thick London Broil steaks AKA top round steaks for braised dishes

  • Rump Roast—a very popular cut for pot roast, but can also be roasted at low temperatures

  • Manhattan steak, San Antonio steak, sirloin tip steak, or tri-tip roast

  • Cube steak, AKA tenderized round steak, is mechanically tenderized by pounding with a perforated hammer (no chemicals or additives). This makes the meat much better suited to quick cooking methods such as grilling. Or you can have the round made into stew cubes, fajita strips, or ground beef.

Scraps and Trimmings

Your choice: stew meat, and/or ground beef. In any beef package, from 1/16th to a half or whole, whether from front or back, generally, you can expect about 35% to 60% ground meat and/or stew meat, depending on the other cuts that you select.

Note that one of the reasons most people have for buying 100% grass-fed meats is the Omega 3 fatty acids. Those are located, well, in the fat. So why would you not want as many Omega 3 fatty acids as possible in your ground beef, especially if you are trying to reduce the percentage of simple carbohydrates in your diet? Our standard ground beef runs about 20% fat/80% lean. One of the easiest, most delicious, ways to incorporate more "good fats" in your diet is to choose a custom half or quarter beef and have the ground beef made up with the maximum fat content. Not only is it more juicy and delicious, and not only does it contain more of the Omega 3 fatty acids you're looking for, but these fats have no extra charge in our beef. In other words, 40 pounds of higher-fat ground beef costs you no more compared to 30 pounds of lean ground beef.

When you buy half a hindquarter, which we call a "1/8th/Rear Steaks & Burgers" share," we've already chosen the cuts for you. Our "1/16th Rear/Steaks & Burgers" share is exactly the same, just half as much meat - the sixteenth will fit just on the door of your standard household refrigerator/freezer.

A quarter beef fills two blue Ikea bags - this is about five cubic feet of freezer space. A 1/8th share fills one blue Ikea bag. These days, Kookoolan Farms beef no longer comes to you in the Ikea bags, although they're still helpful to visualize the volume of meat. Any quarter beef fills about four of our new boxes.

This is a whole lamb in a standard household freezer. A 1/8th beef share takes just about exactly the same amount of space, 2.5 cubic feet. A 1/16th share (a quarter of a quarter) fits just on the freezer door of a standard household refrigerator/freezer.

Bottom Line on Pricing