Thursday, April 10, 2008

Paleron, My Favorite Cut of Beef

In going through my web site statistics this morning, I saw that already this month, several people have found my site by searching for "what is paleron", "paleron" and "paleron recipes". No wonder: my site is ranked number one on Google when searching for "paleron". Who knew?

The best cut of beef for braising (besides the shin) is a small (about 4 pound, 2 kg) roast from the shoulder. It sits between the shoulder blade and the neck and is called variously upper blade roast or top blade roast. My butcher calls it by the French name paleron. By whatever name, it has outstanding flavor.

In the trade, specify NAMP 114D. This brochure shows the full shoulder clod broken down into primals: the paleron is the roast labeled 'c' in the photo.

The roast comprises two long, flat steaks sandwiching a layer of connective tissue. Generally in grocery stores, the roast will be skinned and split horizontally (removing the cartilage) into what are called flat-iron steaks or upper blade steaks. These flat steaks are best grilled like any other steak.

Sometimes the roast will be sliced vertically into small steaks (often called petite steaks) with the connective tissue in the center. Although you can grill these, this is really a braising cut. What makes this cut ideal is that with long, slow braising, the connective tissue melts into unctuousness.

Back in 2005, I published a recipe on the restaurant web site for braising these petite steaks.


  1. chef, Enjoyed your article on paleron. A local ++brasserie asked about this cut- great to exploit. Compliments!

    Glad to see sea squab on the menu.Man those tails are so dee-lish. Wish somebody up in New England had them.

    Nicola Zanghi,

  2. Great info,thanks. Anthony Bourdain's blog has his recipe for Beef Bourguignon which calls for Paleron. That might explain all the searches. Your restaurant sounds terrific!

  3. Anthony's recipe also says 2, 9-lb. paleron of beef to serve 6. He doesn't really mean 18 lbs of beef does he? (I would think 2 lbs, or 2 lbs, 9 oz?)

  4. David, I have Bourdain's cookbook and it specifies "2 lbs / 900 grams" so that's where I think the 9 is coming from.

  5. The paleron is called "the blade" in English as it comes from the shoulder blade. It can also be sliced crosscut and quickly grilled and served with a sauce. The outer grisel skin should be removed though. When choosing for stew meat, the marbling in the center should be as extensive as possible. It is my favorite cut for pot au feu as well as for boeuf mode.

  6. You know what? In the UK, it's known as 'feather blade' or 'blade steak'. You can grill it quite successfully, if you get the timing right; once over the hill, it is simply perfect for my favourite braise, smothered with black pepper.

  7. The blog has moved to