When you are confronted with a large range of cuts at your local butcher, how do you know which steak is best for you? Many of the common steak cuts here in Australia are a little bit different to the US or UK vernacular, and this can lead to confusion when looking at recipes.
The most popular steaks come from the muscles that run parallel to the spine of the steer, outside of the ribs. These muscles receive the least work on the steer, and as a result produce the most tender meat. These tender cuts require minimal cooking to retain tenderness. The muscles that receive the most amount of work have high amounts of connective tissue, and must be slow cooked to become tender.
This post is going to give you an overview of the best steaks you will find at our local butcher shops or in the city's steakhouses.
Aka: Strip Steak, The New York Strip Steak
The porterhouse is the go-to for most people looking for a premium steak. It’s the Shiraz of the steak world. Very popular at all steakhouses.
Porterhouse generally has a well defined texture and grain, with good marbling, and solid flavour. It generally doesn't have much fat, and is very easy to cook.
How to cook: As it doesn't have a great deal of fat, I like to cook my porterhouse rare to medium rare at most.
Aka: Scotch Fillet (rib boned out), Entrecôte
The Rib Eye is the real go-to for any serious steak aficionado.
It has extensive marbling and generally has a pocket or line of fat running through the meat. This extensive marbling and fat gives the rib eye amazing texture and depth of flavour. The extra marbling also ensures the steak doesn’t dry out too much when cooking.
How to cook: As the Rib Eye has a bit more marbling and fat to render, I always cook it at least medium rare. This ensures a great render and a juicy and rich rib eye every time.
Aka: Filet Mignon, Tenderloin.
Generally considered the most tender of all cuts, the eye fillet is low in fat and marbling. It has a super tender buttery flavour. Also known as a chateaubriand when cut extra thick for two or more people. It has a fine grain and texture.
How to cook: As the eye fillet has less marbling, one must be careful not to over cook. The eye fillet will cook a bit faster than most cuts and is best served rare to medium rare. The classic Women’s Weekly 70s recipe is to wrap it in bacon, to help retain some moisture whilst cooking.
One of my personal favourites, when this steak is cut, you get a porterhouse and an eye fillet still on the T shaped bone. Two steaks in one!
How to cook: I usually go for rare to medium rare, as both the porterhouse and eye fillet are quite lean. Takes a bit of practice to get right, and I usually prefer to do it on a BBQ over a pan, as the meat can shrink off the bone and you can lose contact with the pan. The traditional bistecca fiorentinais my absolute all time favourite. Tuscan style T-Bone over coal or sometimes even vine cuttings results in an awesome meal every time.
Aka: Sirloin (US), Round Steak
Taken from towards the rear of the steer, this cut sees a bit more work, and results in a rich unique flavour, despite being quite lean.
How to cook: As it is quite lean, it suits being cooked rare. I prefer to cook rare, give it a good rest and slice and use in a thai salad or stuff it into a soft shell taco.
Aka: Butcher’s steak, Bistro steak, onglet.
You may have seen this one popping up at some fairly trendy restaurants around town. It is one hell of a serious steak. Known as a butcher’s steak, as most butchers used to keep these for themselves. They have extensive marbling and also some connective tissue which can throw a spanner in the works. However, when cooked correctly, this steak is very tender and very flavoursome. This steak ‘hangs’ from the diaphragm of the steer, and sometimes is overlooked by butchers.
How to cook: I’m a big hanger fan and have had mixed results cooking these. I personally think these need to be cooked medium to be at their best. Too rare, and it will be chewy with the marbling not rendered. Anything over medium and you are looking at a rubbery chewy steak. It takes a bit of time to hit the sweetspot. Try searing in a very very hot pan and resting in hot oven for 5-6 mins.