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Monday, 10 June 2013

Juicy beef steaks and properly done pork chops.

As I write up this blogpost today it will form the last entry to finish off my just about to be published book 'Tales from the Block'. I have spent the morning editing and proof reading the text and making a few image changes. And so to my subject today – beef steaks and pork chops.

My butchery opinion is often sought on my recommendation for a juicy beef steak and I believe that properly aged beef tastes so much better than that under twenty one days in the hanging. In an ideal world the beef should be hung for at least twenty eight days and some butchers like The Ginger Pig Company hang theirs for thirty five to forty days. Simply put, beef cannot be eaten straight from the slaughtering process. Hanging it in a temperature controlled refrigerated walk in cold room environment allows the meat to mature and develop flavour and become more tender.

Which then are the tastiest beef steak types?

Well in chef's listings the rump steak comes out at number one, sirloin at number two, rib eye practically joint second and fillet steak the last. There are other types of beef steak that can mostly be purchased from a traditional butcher. These are feather blade, T-bone/Porterhouse, onglet steaks and point steaks. Goose skirt or bavette style steaks can be purchased if you want to experience a more continental way of cooking steak. Naturally on all of the steaks the cooking method and skill employed will also affect the end result.

Rump steak joint and cut steaks

Rump steak: Full of flavour this steak comes from the hind quarter of the beef carcass and should be well hung. The steak joint is quite a wide joint and usually cut across three muscle groups for a long kidney shaped steak. Should the butcher slice the rump the wrong way the steak will be very chewy or in butcher's parlance “Tough as ode boots”. Although modern eating trends tend to shy away from eating the fat that surrounds some steaks if you can find rump with the fat on and no gristle buy it and you won't go wrong.

Sirloin steaks

Sirloin steak: A middle back cut, this can be boned and rolled by the butcher as a prime beef roasting joint or cooked as steaks. I would suggest that because the muscle is smaller than say rump this steak can benefit the customer by being sliced that bit thicker. A sirloin cut about an inch and a half thick would make the perfect juicy steak because cut too thin (less than a finger thick) the meat can dry out quickly in the cooking.

Fillet steak

Fillet steak: The steak comes from a long muscle that does no work at all and is very tender and with extremely little fat. When the fillet muscle is cut in half each piece gets named and the names are in French. The long single muscle part is the Filet Mignon and the wider muscle (actually two muscles) is the Châteaubriand. All of the fillet can be cooked quickly as steaks or chopped finely for steak tartare and cooked as a joint as a Beef Wellington (filet de boeuf en croûte) for example. Fillet is said to be least flavoursome steak however.

Rib eye steaks with joint

Rib eye steaks: This is a very popular steak with those who enjoy a bit of fat with their beef steak and it works particularly well through cooking on the barbecue or on a hot griddle. The meat itself comes from the fore rib and marbled with an off centre piece of white fat. The rib muscle is trimmed of sinew and surplus fat and makes a compact and delicious beef roasting joint too. The inner fat element really adds to the flavour.

Pork chops come from the pig's loin and in the old days people would fight to get one or two of the pork chops that came with the pigs kidney attached. The average pig kidney is about six inches long so in reality only about six decent thickness loin chops from the whole pig would have the kidney attached still in its little protective round of fat. Alas, an EU ruling banned the sale of pork chops with the intact kidney and the meat inspectors in abattoirs slice through the kidney and surrounding fat in checking for any sign of disease in the animal.

I digress. Pork loin chops ( like all pork and chicken) need to be cooked thoroughly and if you are frying or especially grilling the pork loin chops a tip is to snip the outside edge of the loin chop a few times before cooking with some sharp kitchen scissors. This action will prevent the chop curling up in the heat and you will achieve a more even cooking result.

I do love a nice pepper seasoned loin pork chop but I would also highly recommend trying the sweeter tasting (nearer the shoulder of pork and marbled with fat) spare rib pork chops that also have very little bone. These should not be confused with the spare ribs that come from the belly. They are rectangular in shape and often have a little wad of fat on the side.

In choosing your pork recognise that the flesh should be pink and the fat always white and soft. When pork is intensely farmed it is pale and lean and outdoor reared pork will be a darker firmer meat with tastier fat.

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