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French Cuts of Meat

Translations and explanation

By Gemma Driver

Listed below are some explanations of cuts that are butchered differently from those you may be used to, along with some useful direct translations.


Poitrine – Belly preserved with salt. When sliced, it is bacon. The French tend to slice their poitrine fairly thickly, in order to make lardons, so you need to ask for the slices to be fine (pronounced ‘feen’). Bacon is rarely injected with water in France, so you get more for your money, it tastes better and crisps-up easily. Not the same as the packets labeled as ‘bacon’ - these are brined, trimmed and usually injected with water.

Echine - Spare ribs, cooked as loin.

Côte - Chop

Côtelette - Cutlet/chop

Joue - Cheek

Ventrèche - Slices of uncured belly pork, intended for the barbecue. Specific to South-West France.

Crackling should be no problem for your local butcher, but you will need to order it in advance. Ask for your joint to come ‘avec la couenne’ (pronounced ‘quoowen’), and specify that it should remain attached to the meat. I once ordered a joint with crackling and the butcher had considerately removed the skin and gave it to me in a separate package.


Poule – Stewing hen

Poulet - Chicken

Poulette - Young hen

Poussin - Very young chicken

Coq - Cockerel

Pintade - Guinea fowl

Dinde - Turkey

Volaille - Fowl/ poultry

Cuisse - Thigh

Magret - Duck or goose breast with skin attached, usually grilled or fried and served rare or medium rare.

Carcasse - Carcass, for making stocks and soups.


Gigot - Leg of lamb or mutton

Épaule - Shoulder

Côte - Chop

Côtelette - Cutlet/chop, usually from the rack of lamb

Collet - Neck or scrag (end)

Poitrine/ poitrail - Breast

Jarret - Shank or shin. Also, knuckle of pork or veal and shin of beef.

Selle (d’agneau) - Saddle. The saddle of smaller animals like rabbit is

called râble.

Souris d’agneau - Small, round and tender muscle at the knuckle end of the leg.


Bifteck - Beefsteak

Bavette - Flank steak, from the skirt; textured with long muscle fibres.

Filet - Fillet

Faux-filet/ aloyau - Sirloin steak

Steak à hacher - Steak used for making steak tartare and

steak haché.

• Steak haché - Looks like a burger, but is simply pressed minced steak. It is usually freshly prepared, which is why people are happy to eat them rare. Not comparable to a British or American beef burger or hamburger.

Romsteck/ rumsteck - Rump steak

Entrecôte - Ribeye

Tournedos/ filet mignon - tenderloin steak usually cut almost as high as

it is wide. Basically a chunk of very tender steak, usually served quite rare unless

otherwise requested (see ‘Steak Doneness’).

Araignée - Tender piece of rump (spider steak).

Other beef:

Tête de veau - Veal head, usually stewed in stock for hours until

meltingly tender and served with a sauce gribiche.

Plat de côtes - Topside of beef

Langue de bœuf Beef tongue

Gîte (à la noix) Silverside or top leg of beef

Queue de bœuf - Ox tail

Cou - Neck

Tranche - Meaning ‘slice’, is a round of beef.

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