We’re not imagining it: cuts of meat are shrinking. Blame it on the rise of the artisanal butcher and his penchant for dainty versions of hard-to-come-by cuts as well as the downsizing of the American diet. Thankfully, a crew of red-meat revivalists is going big by cooking primals—the huge, caveman-worthy sections of animal from which all other steaks and chops are carved (think: the entire chuck portion of a cow or the loin of a hog).
“People get tempted to do these beastly cookouts—I think there’s something in our collective memories,” says Francis Mallmann, Argentina’s patron saint of barbecue, who’s renowned for roasting an entire 1,600-pound cow over a massive fire ring, a ritual that takes up to 22 hours.
Chef Eric Banh is one of many stateside chefs picking up on the trend. At his new Seattle restaurant, 7 Beef, the Vietnamese Banh serves hunks of meat to eight or more guests at a time, as well as 15-pound chuck rolls and rolled steaks that have been spit-roasted for five hours.
“There are all these big, delicious cuts,” he says, “but people just aren’t used to them.”
Now’s the time to go big.