About steaks

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Sigh. I had not realise how difficult this blog was going to be. I thought to myself I will just trot out the recipes I do, and a bit of chat about them, and that would be that. BUT it is not!

I have been writing different pages about veal, the difference in calorie and fat content between pork and beef and different cuts and  other things but they have been very messy. They didn’t flow from my brain to the keyboard. Mainly due to the fact that the subjects are broad and actually quite emotive ( would you guess that beef is actually more fatty than pork) and lots of stuff in between.

So I have decided on a safe subject for a chat and a recipe. And that is steaks. Beef steaks.

I will look at other steaks at a different time, but this is about the majestic beef steak. The great big massive red meat feast, that makes folks drool,  whilst reaching for their  cutting irons.

A quick intro into steaks.

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sirloin and fillet. The fillet  (Right hand side) is from an organic farmer and the colour is less red. The sirloin  is from one of the big four. It is strong red in colour. You can see the marbling in the fillet and the strong fats running through the sirloin. 

In the Oxford Dictionary  the definition is “A steak taken  from the hind quarters of the cow and typically cut into thick slices to be broiled or fried”. But there are more things to consider;

  1. The darker red the meat, the more flavour. You must balance this with fat,  but it’s a good call. If the muscle is used a lot,  it gets more connective tissues,  and so more flavour. BUT this means it will  need cooking a bit longer to be tender. as I said it’s a balance.
  2. The fattier the better. I mean   Marbling, the lovely white, hard, inter-muscular fat on the steak that allows the fantastic flavour to ooze through the meat.
  3. What is it feed on? Corn or Grass-  well damn it..I know my answer is pasture feed every time,  but these guys know a thing or two – real farmers–  I can not take the blog to these length but I hope you read it through.
  4. Which breed? I love Devon ruby. I know its not the “best” but i love it. its bitey and a little  coarse with huge flavour. Longhorn beef as provided by Forest Beef, has a brilliant marbling,  and a very meaty flavour and needs to be appreciated but it is totally down to you. Spend ten minutes at your farmers market and try their stuff, then make your mind up.
  5. Look at price. not everyone can afford the top end steaks, try different ones from different places and decide which is value for money. I will say now that for the cost, lidl has awesome meat.
  6. Organic or what? I have really read into this, and spoken to all my local butchers and meat providers,and I truly believe that over farmed/farmed and organic are, as heading, over rated.  Its not the “heading” its what they do. Some farmers that I know who are not “organic”, hold their meat for longer and treat it better, Where as some organic farmers don’t use  antibiotics or steroids, but hold their stock in feeding barns. SO met your  suppliers and listen to what they say, and see, what they preach.  Make your choice on knowledge and flavour and not what the package says.
  7.  Do not  be fooled  by Americans. They do know about their steaks.  I have loads of amesome American friends and ( i hate to say this) one taught me to cook BBQ steaks. We were in Germany, and Mark took a huge ribeye steak and cooked it about 120  degrees ( three charcoal briskets) for about 4 hours ( ok beer might have affected the time frame) These guys really can barbecue, listen and take what ever knowledge you can from them.

There are oddles of steak cuts I will quickly look at a them.

All the good steaks come from the Loin area.

  1. Fillet steak, ( or tenderloin steaks) no fat but some marbling, the best texture of any steak, goes best with a sauce. Normally cut very thick.
  2. Sirlion Steak, from the top loin of the cow, its got a layer of fat and is well marbled. Normally cut quite thin.
  3. Rump steak gets worked all the time and so is more muscling and a little tougher, but it has the most fat of the three common English cuts. To me, the best value for money.
  4. Ribeye steaks,  for once an American addition to our vocabulary I was happy to see. The ribeye is names because of the HUGE lunp of fat in the middle of the steak with when cooked just fills the steak with massive beefy flavours. Best cooked slow and long in a BBQ.
  5. T Bone Steaks. This is for the biggest appitites, and has a right to call itself yummy. Its cut on the bone- which instantly adds flavour-the meat is a combination of fillet and sirlion steak so it has texture and flavour, but they are normally cut at about 16oz so be ready.
  6. Porterhouse Steaks. These are basically T-Bone steaks cuts from the other end of the tenderloin, so there is more fillet, which is why it is considered superior.
  7. Minute steak can be cut from almost any steak and really refers to how long it is cooked for. These are cook quickly for a sandwich or baguette.
  8. Flat iron steak!  PLEASE NO! this is a cut of muscle from the SHOULDER- steak does not come from the shoulder! this is cheap companies saving money. DO NOT BUY EVER.  It’s O.K if you braise or marinate it, but it is rubbish to fried or broil. Just grrrrrrr. NO!. … RANT OVER.

These are the regular cuts, you might see a Bavette or Onglet cut, but I haven’t, If you have, let me know,  I am truly interested in how they cook.

How to cook them;

Firstly ALWAYS salt and pepper and oil the meat. don’t oil the pan. Nut oils have a higher cooking temp ( they don’t burn easily) so they are often favoured.

Get the pan red hot!

Now for the hardest part, cooking time, and this depends of the type of steak, your preference on how to eat it, and how the steak is cooked.

Most people I have cooked steak with will have been told about “the rule of thumb” I was taught this by a master butcher called Bob when i was 17 and It has stuck with me ever since.

Hold your thumb to your index finger. Now press on the meaty part of your hand below your thumb. The texture that you feel is how the steak will feel when it is rare. Now move your thumb to your middle finger and that is how the steak will feel as medium rare. then  you move your finger to the ring finger- medium well, and the little finger – well done.

Cook the steak quickly on both sides,  after it is sealed and seared to a lovely brown,and almost cooked to your preference, add a knob  of butter, baste the steak and leave to rest before servicing.

Serve with salads and chips, jackets or anything you want.

i wil be covering steaks sauces in the next blog which will be very soon! Just updated it here is the link Steak Sauces

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