This week we're taking a little detour away from Biltong and behind the scenes of Biltong, and covering it's more conventional cousin, the Steak!
We'll give you a brief on the most common cuts of steak, and how to cook them. To start, some general notes. Firstly, you should understand the basic anatomy of a cow, we've covered this in a previous blog, but basically steaks that come from less worked muscles on the cow will have more fat marbling and be more tender, but they're also more expensive. Secondly, always rest your steak, particularly before cooking it - take it out the fridge and let it come up to room temperature, or at least near. Rest after cooking too, remember that the residual heat will mean it continues to cook for a minute or so after taking off the heat.
Now to the cuts of steak!
Prime rump steak
We're starting with our main ingredient! Considered one of the most flavoursome cuts, this is tender, well marbled steak taken from the lower back of the animal. A little cheaper per kilo than sirloin or fillet but lacking nothing in quality.
Cooking tips: A great steak for cooking quickly on a high heat or a barbecue. Best served on the rare side, medium at most. Don't over season it, just a little salt - try Smoky Brae's smoked sea salt
Picanha rump steak
A lesser known cut in the UK, this is a specific cut from the rump that is very succulent and tender, very popular and prized in South America.
Cooking tips: Similar to prime rump, cook the picanha on a wood fired barbecue for a fantastic smoky flavour.
Rib eye steak
A popular classic, rib eye comes from (surprise surprise) a cow's rib section. It has a good rich flavour and is very tender. Because there are pockets of fat in the steak, it’s also possible to roast it as a joint should that be your persuasion.
Cooking tips: Cook it with the bone in and simple seasoning. Cook over a very high temperature quickly, to medium rare, and leave it to rest a little longer than other cuts.
One of the most popular cuts, the sirloin comes from the upper middle of the cow. This is a very lowly worked part of the cow so it is very tender and well-marbled with fat, and quite forgiving in cooking, great for the beginner!
Cooking tips: Make sure all the gristle is removed when choosing or preparing. Go for a clean salt seasoning or a simple, coriander dominant rub.
Probably the most lean and tender cut, although perhaps a slightly more flat flavour. Taken from the centre of the fillet (other parts used for stronganoff and chateaubriand).
Cooking tips: Look out for steaks with silver skin (the blueish inter muscle tissue) which should be removed prior to cooking. This cut is well suited to more aggressive seasoning, or a reduced red wine or cream sauce.
A big steak that is very popular in the US. This is sirloin on one side of the bone and fillet on the other - so great if you can't make up your mind! A porterhouse steak is similar, but has much more tenderloin.
Cooking tips: The different cuts cook at slightly different rates, so monitor both sides to reach your desired level. Try searing in a hot pan then seasoning with plenty of salt and finishing in a preheated oven.
This is very popular in France, a steak cut from the flank, which it may be known as. Choose carefully as it can be a little coarse and chewy, but has plenty of flavour and is good value.
Cooking tip: Leave the steak in a red wine, salt, coriander and splash of red wine vinegar marinade for a few hours, even up to 24, to help tenderise it. Cook on a very high temperature and keep it on the rare side to maintain tenderness.
Flat iron steak
A good value steak from the shoulder, which means it is gaining popularity as an "everyday" steak. It’s reasonably tender with sufficient beef flavour, also well suited to marinades.
Cooking tips: Cook on a really high heat with a lump of butter. The best way to enjoy it is rare or medium rare to avoid losing tenderness, and let it rest.
That's our summary for you. If you have any suggestions, questions or want our opinion on other cuts just let us know!