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Oct 11, 2007 02:36 AM

Cuts of Beef in Greek

I have here a diagram for different cuts of beef in Greek that I got from one of the supermarkets and still not cannot figure out, what short ribs are in Greek? And, although this might be more of long shot, because I have never seen it cut the same way here in Greece, I am also looking for Flank/skirt steak? Any ideas?

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  1. Just as in Americas past, "flank/skirt steak" was/is used for ground meat. European butchers, varying through each land, cut in particular to their cuisine, and the texture of the meat. In Greece, grilling is mostly reserved for those who had actually HAD meat to grill. So, it follows that you may find 'grilling' cuts in Athens and some islands. Not the Peloponnese, traditionally. The stews and braised meats that are served in Greece and Greek regions of the world don’t lend themselves well to American/German butchery cuts. Today you can find anything in the supermarket. Custom cuts? Just ask. Maybe you have to explain. Maybe find the right butcher or even a slaughterhouse.

    9 Replies
    1. re: NatS

      Good luck. My experience with Greek butchers is that they cut things the way they cut them, and don't like to change, and don't have the cuts you are asking about. I suppose if you are in Athens or Thessaloniki it is possible you can find an upscale butcher who will do specialty cuts for you, but outside the big cities I seriously doubt it. It's better to learn how to cook the cuts available in Greece, or to modify your recipes to suit the cuts available, then to try to get Greek butchers to do something outside the scope of their normal experience. Best of luck!

        1. re: NatS

          I can understand that flank steak would be difficult to find seeing as quick grilled meats, still red in the centre are generally not something the homecook cooks, but short ribs which were always considered, the poor man's cut ( untill it became fashionable about 10 years with good restaurants) should be availabe, it is afterall a cut that does well for braising stewing etc.

          All to true about the Greek butchers, execpt for a few cuts, you just ask for it by use, "cassarola", "fourno", "scara" etc. Although, I have yet to find an upscale butcher in Athens? ( any recommendations) , I have gotten lucky with women who works at the my nearby Alpha Beta, really knowledgable, only problem is my Greek is not that proficient when trying to describe, where it is on the animal. Next time, I'm going with diagram and try pointing it out to her, maybe I will finally buy something that I actually know what to do with.

          If you guys are intrested I will report back with some translations, and equivalents!!!

          1. re: doughgirl

            After trying to find a rack of lamb here, then trying to get the butcher to "french" it(I literally had to get behind the counter and show him what I wanted), I learned to just use the cuts they have. They really go at the meat here too with the cleaver which is a problem for me as I hate to eat shards of bone...blaaa.

            I think if you go to an upscale neighborhood such as Kolonaki or Kifissia, you would be more likely to find certain cuts of meat. A friend told me they don't have aged beef here in Greece, so finding a nice tender filet might be a chore. For something close try the "Bon Filet" as they call it, I have no idea what it is, but it was grilled for me almost rare, with a baked potato and salad as an "american meal" by my host.

            Also have you tried the restaurant "Meat Squared"? I ate lamb ribs there but I saw a T bone that looked like something from the flintstones.


            1. re: E.Kolliopoulos

              Haven't been yet to "Meat Squared" yet. Although I have heard about it and I would like to go. Was it good?

              Although most home cooks, are still cooking meat the same way, alot of restaurants are changing and offering tbones, sirloins and carpaccio, so something is starting to change. I have even found tbones at my local Alpha Beta, and I am live no where near the wealthy suburbs.

              I am curious about the butcher you went to, do you recomment him? Is he central?

              You are correct about the aged beef, they don't age it atleast not yet. Alot people here still believe in the freshness aspect and haven't understand that for beef , a little ageing goes along way. Although,having worked in some restaurants back home, I have learned a few techniques, so if, I could just get my hand on some flank, I can make an excellent, cast iron cooked steak et frites (sometimes, the cravings call out!!).

              As for translations, I have only one so far to offer up.

              Brisket : stithos brostino aka, front breast.
              As for osso bucco I can't remember now the greek, but a lot of butchers know it exactly as that.

              the bon filet, is that noya ?
              Also, psaronefri, is what exactly, any idea?

              I am determined to find these parts. I can understand, that steak like cuts are difficult, but there is no way, that slow cooking cuts are that different.

              Happy cooking, and discovering!

              1. re: doughgirl

                Meat Squared was excellent, though I did not have the tbone. I had paidakia (lamb ribs) and they were great, The fries were similar to pomme frites as I recall.

                I would not reccommend my butcher, as the way he cut my rack of lamb was close, but still not correct, and I could have used a meat cleaver to chop the lamb ribs from some common bone that I didn't know about that runs along the meat side of the ribs. The meat itself was perfect though. He is in Labrini, which is the neighborhood close to me, I am in Kypriadou, which is close to Patissia.

                Your best bet is to make friends with a Greek woman in your nieghborhood who loves to cook. That is when you will get all the right recs for your area, the best fourno, butcher, best wines etc.. I have been very lucky this way, and my friend Popi has taught me everything! She actually made a beef wellington with the bon filet I told you about.

                Apparently that is how they refer to it here and I have know I dea what it is. At first I thought she was saying "Bone Filet" but figured she must be calling it bon filet. Almost everyone we know, including my husband went to French schools and on to Paris for college. Must be that French influence. We are going to their house this evening and I will ask her what part of the cow it is.

                Psaronefri is not a cut of meat it is a traditional meat dish. Popi made it for us once. It is pork and lamb mixed with garlic, graviera and some other seasoning then baked in cooking paper. Quite good, but as I stated in the last post, I was a little creeped out by the bone fragments. So I suppose if you see psaronefri at the butcher it is the meat for that dish.

                At the Alpha Beta I have seen Osso Bucco pre packaged as Osso Bucco, so it shouldn't be too hard to find. Could you recommend a recipe for that?

                I have never really had a good "steak" in Europe and I think it has to do with this lack of aging. What I would give for a ribeye! I go back home for a visit in January and my husbands boss opened a restaurant that serves "air aged" beef. My husband said it was the best steak he has ever had. I am on pins and needles...errr or as we say here, pos kai pos!!!

                Get the Bon Filet and try it, it is the best thing I have had to a filet, very lean yet tender, Popi's wellington was really good, even medium rare in the middle. I will do the same thing and try to get it to rare, but I might freak out my Greek guests. Popi says you can usually only get Bon filet at the beginning of the week as it is one of the few meats you don't cook all day and a lot of greek women who work make week night meals of it.

                In another post..."Cornmeal and tarragon", I sent you a list of tavernas I would reccommend, I noticed I forgot to enter the adresses, if there are any you want to try, just ask and I will get them for you. Still interested in Kritikos, what neighborhood is it in? I will check the Athinarama this week.

                A tip, if you like beans. Now is the time to get (dried) beans from Drama. Apparently the best. I just bought some in Pilio last weekend (thanksgiving) and am making Fasolatha as I write!!


                1. re: doughgirl

                  Psaronefri is pork tenderloin, and there are many ways to cook it.

                  1. re: Laurie Constantino

                    right you are Laurie, I have mixed up the word psaronefri with the term youbleia or something to that effect which is the name of the dish as described above.

                    1. re: Laurie Constantino

                      Yes psaronefri is pork tenderloin but never order it in a restaurant in Greece,you never get tenderloin,you get another cut of pork but not tenderloin.
                      I love tenderloin and i use it very often with my guests,and there are many ways to cook it but in Greece i find it can loose it's tenderness in the wrong

        2. Everything is in the same place no matter where you go.
          Where you find short ribs on an American diagram of cuts of beef is where you find them on a diagram in greek.

          1 Reply
          1. re: FrankJBN

            That might be true on the diagram, but a whole different story on getting your local greek butcher cutting it

          2. You don't say where you live in Greece, but if you're near the Athens area, I would first try alpha Beta, then if you can't get what you want, I'd resort to other sources. First off, you are not going to find any Greek beef that is close to U.S. beef. They don't age their meats as we do. So if I still lived in Greece and had my heart set on a really tender steak, I would curry the favor of a few chefs de cuisine at the top hotels that do serve steaks and ask them where they get their meats. Chances are they're imported. You might also surf the web. I used to get fantastic beef from Denmark. Who knows? Maybe Omaha Steaks ships overseas. Can't hurt to check it out.

            As for specific cuts of beef such as short ribs, the only way I can think of is to take a beef chart (any country of origin) to the butcher's with you and point out what you want. But I would NEVER hope to find an edible flank steak. Unless, of course, you have a soft spot for shoe leather. The unaged beef just won't give anything close to your probable expectations.

            Someone mentioned Frenched lamb chops. Your best hope is to learn to do it yourself. With a good sharp boning knife, it's not all that difficult.

            Enjoy the lamb. It's the thing I miss most about living in Greece!

            3 Replies
            1. re: Caroline1

              Anyone know what the veal cut, 'χτενι' translates into in English/what part of the beef?


              1. re: ios94

                Anyone, here's a pic of it. I still don't know what cut this translates too in english.

                1. re: ios94

                  Spala, "σπάλα" is the shoulder or chuck of beef and "χτένι σπάλας" or chteni spalas is the chuck tender close to the neck where you get the most collagen in the meat making it the best part for stifado or tender juicy burgers!

            2. Greece is a mountainous country and its' islands are mostly bare. There are not the vast grasslands of north europe or the americas. So we don't really have a beef tradition. The greeks traditionally ate lamb or goat roasted whole (which really is a delicious, naturally organic meat) or pig.
              Beef in Greece is at best select grade, rather bland, and meat cuts are very basic. Most greek home and tavern cooks don't even know how to properly cook it and even confuse cuts and cooking methods. If you ask at the butcher's you'll probably get the wrong advice!
              Nevertheless, I've done some research in both american and greek cuts and here are the equivalents:

              (' = where accentuation goes)
              Chuck = SPA'LA = σπάλα
              Front of Chuck = ELIΑ'/LAEMO'S = ελιά/λαιμός (the neck portion of chuck)
              Shoulder/Clod = SPA'LA = σπάλα (the greeks don't discriminate further. it's just "spala" to us)
              Chuck eye steak = SPALOBREEZO'LAES = σπαλομπριζόλες
              Chuck Eye Roast = SPALOBREEZO'LAES GIA PSEETO' (chuck for roasting. ask for bone in or out)
              Flatiron = CHTAE'NEE = χτένι (watch out: sometimes not pure flatiron but includes neighboring muscles as well)
              Chuck Mock Tender = BALOMEE'TA = μπαλομίτα
              Ribs Steaks = BREEZO'LES = μπριζόλες (usually bone-in. not to be confused with SPALOBREEZOLAES)
              Short/Top Loin = KO'NTRA = κόντρα (bone in or out)
              Fillet/Tenderloin = FEELAE'TO. FEELAE' MIGNO'N = φιλέτο (French Terms, same worldwide. you have to order it)
              T-bone, Porterhouse, New-York Strip Steak = KO'NTRA FEELAE'TO = κόντρα-φιλέτο (usually sold whole as a roast with the fillet attached and not cut into steaks)
              Top Sirloin/Rump = KEELO'TO = κιλότο (sold whole for roast, not into steaks)
              Round = STROGEELO' = στρογγυλό
              Silverside, Bottom Round = OORA' = ουρά
              Oxtail = OORA' (be carefull: has the same name as bottom round! don't ask why...)
              Eye of Round = NOOA' = νουά
              Top Round = TRANCE = τρανς
              Heel = TORTOOGEE'TA = τορτουγκίτα
              Shank = PONTEE'KEE = ποντίκι
              Brisket = STEE'THOS = στήθος
              Plate/Flank = LA'PA = λάπα (you have to go upscale to ask for cuts like skirt, flank, flap, hanger, diaphragm. You usually find them cut vertically or as minced-meat)
              Short-Ribs = STEETHOPLAEVRAE'S = στηθοπλευρές
              Short-Ribs flanken style = SEEDEERO'DROMOS = σιδηρόδρομος