We all like to think we know a thing or two meat. For some people, summer time isn’t complete until they’ve stood, be-aproned over a barbecue, loudly telling anyone who’ll listen about the perfect way to cook a sirloin or exactly what is in their signature seasoning blend. And we wonder why people don’t want to stand next to cooks.
But, beyond the brash and ultra masculine nattering around barbecuers and their meat, there is actually a hidden world of weird and wonderful ingredients. If you’re sick of spending vast sums on meagre portions of fillet, or fancy a change up from your rump, these less fashionable but equally yummy cuts are a great way to fall back in love with steak. Perfect for anyone looking for something a little different, here are seven secret steak cuts.
Traditionally reserved as a “butchers cut”, spider steaks are notable for their distinctive, web-like marbling of fat that runs through the meat. When cooked, the fat melts into the rest of the steak, making the meat moist, juicy and highly flavourful. Season lightly with salt and pepper before cooking quickly on both sides to get the most out of this underappreciated cut.
2. Flat Iron
It might now have a relatively successful restaurant chain named after it, but many people still don’t appreciate the humble flat iron. Cut from the shoulder of the cow, you must take extra care to remove any tough membrane before cooking. The result, however, is well worth it. It might be a little chewier than most, but when it comes to flavour it’s hard to beat a flat iron.
Increasingly popular in California, tri tip steak is a great alternative to its more expensive cousin, sirloin. Cut from the triangle of meat found below the sirloin, tri tip is at its best when grilled quickly and simply, though many European countries serve it roasted whole. Season generously with olive oil and salt to prevent drying, and away you go.
Favoured in France for its strong flavour and distinctive texture, bavette is also known as flank steak. Though it may be best known as a pairing to pommes frites, bavette is also commonly used in Asian cooking as a key ingredient in stir fries, as well as in Latin America as the base for fajitas. Cut from the bottom of the cow, many chefs recommend slicing across the grain of the meat in order to make it more tender.
Alongside spider steak, hanger was the one cut a butcher would always try and keep for himself. Prized for its unbeatable combination of great flavour and supreme tenderness, the hanger steak offers a great halfway house between ribeye and fillet. Usually cheaper than both of these alternatives, hanger steak really is a win win.
Cut from the much larger chuck primal cut, denver steaks are fast finding a small but dedicated following thanks to their big, beefy flavour. More tender than other parts of chuck steak, denver typically has good marbling and are perfectly suited to cooking on the grill.
Not all sirloins are created equal, and culotte steak, which comes from the top of the cut, is definitely one of the best. Tender and rich with fat marbling, culotte steaks are ideal for grilling alongside bold, flavourful side dishes such as mushrooms and pommes frites. Alternatively, they can be roasted in the oven for a softer finish.
With so many steaks to choose from, there’s no excuse not to eat a whole load of beef. Hopefully this will open up a new world of grilling. At the very least, you’re now prepared if someone tries to talk at you about T-bone.