Ever wondered which cuts of meat a butcher sits down to eat? Wonder no more. Andy Fenner of Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants breaks down his favourite under-appreciated cuts of beef.
Don’t get me wrong – I like a steak as much as the next guy. A rib-eye seasoned with coarse sea salt and cooked on the open fire. A sirloin, pan-fried in butter. Of course they’re delicious. But there’s so much more to discover out there if you take a chance. Push yourself out of your comfort zone, seek out a passionate butcher and, above all, ask for recommendations. That’s the only way you’ll learn. Below are a few of my favourite lesser-known cuts of beef and a few ways I like to prep them.
You’re familiar with pork belly, right? A long slab of meat? Now consider the same belly running on a cow’s much larger carcass. This section of the carcass provides a few cuts that we seam out: bavette, flank and skirt. Bavette is my pick of the bunch. It’s found towards the rear of the animal and has a loose, wide grain. Grill it over high heat and spoon on a chunky dressing like chimichurri.
Supporting an enormous head will develop enormous muscles. Makes sense, right? What this means for the home cook is flavour – if you can break the muscles down with a long, slow cook. Beef neck is the ultimate cut for a robust curry.
The cheapest cut on the entire carcass also happens to be my single favourite one. The shin is a piece of meat that, when sliced into discs, has a piece of bone marrow in the middle. That marrow adds a rich, silky texture to any braise. Because of the huge amount of gelatin within the meat, it requires a long, slow cook. Use shin to make chilli con carne and you’ll never look back.
Sitting just beneath the animal’s shoulder bone is a secret cut unsurprisingly called the underblade. When this muscle is cut into individual steaks, you’re left with Denver steaks. They’re marbled, delicious, relatively cheap and extremely easy to cook. For best results, get it in a pan with butter, garlic and rosemary.
I know it’s not a cut, per se. But for me nothing personifies nose-to-tail eating like sausages. And I’m not talking about the cheap and nasty kind. A well-made sausage that has been made with integrity is a thing of beauty. Any butcher buying whole carcasses will generate a lot of offcuts and trim as a result. Sorting through them, identifying cuts with the right fat percentages and then using them in sausage production is an art. Interested in sustainability? A good start is by supporting your local butcher by adding a few sausages to your shopping basket.
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