Which Cuts Of Beef Are Best For…?

It’s been a gradual (and on-going) learning process over the years to work out which cuts of beef are best suited to which dishes or cooking methods. Although I’m pretty confident about the cuts to buy for my favourite meals, I am still getting to grips with others and constantly on the look out for new ways to get the best out of them.

When I asked a few friends for their thoughts recently, it quickly became clear that choosing which cut of meat to buy isn’t an easy task for everyone. And of course, buying the wrong cut for your dish often leads to disappointment, which makes people even more nervous the next time. Says my friend Matt Gibson, “I’ve never really got the hang of the cuts, especially for beef. Basically I just buy whatever looks nice in the shop without thinking too hard about it”.

That comment spurred me on to create my guide to choosing the right cut of beef. The suggestions below are based not only on my own favourites but also incorporate recommendations from fellow bloggers, food writers and chefs.

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Beef cuts diagram via shutterstock.com

 

First, Lessons from a Master Butcher

Having been a butcher since he was 14, Martin Eccles – Master Butcher at Quality Standard Beef & Lamb – reckons that memories of bad experiences in the past also linger; during a private butchery class he explains that “plate waste” was once common when buying a chop or steak to cook at home – that’s the pieces of tendon or gristle left uneaten on the plate – but today’s butchers are moving to reduce that by cutting meat differently.

A big part of Martin’s job for Quality Standard Beef & Lamb is working with butchers to train them on adapting the way they breakdown carcasses to better suit today’s consumer. He advises them on how to to optimise “carcass utilisation” and how best to create modern cuts and smaller roasting joints to suit singles, couples and smaller families. The organisation also works with farmers and supervises the Quality Standard Beef and Lamb marks.

What does Martin mean by modern cuts? He shows me a large rump of beef and explains that it consists of three distinct muscles. Because a steak is best when cut across the grain of the muscle, he separates the three rump muscles, completely removes the silver gristle and then cuts the muscles into individual steaks. Where traditional rump steaks consist of all three muscle types held together with connective tissue, the three new cuts – picanha (aka rump cap) steaks, prime rump steaks and bistro rump steaks – are each comprised of just one muscle. They are easy to cook, tender and with no plate waste.

EBLEX-masterclass-KaveyEats-(c)KavitaFavelle-9215 EBLEX-masterclass-KaveyEats-(c)KavitaFavelle-9217 EBLEX-masterclass-KaveyEats-(c)KavitaFavelle-9225
Martin breaking a rump into different muscles and cuts of steak

Incidentally, here’s a quick Kavey lesson for you: Raw meat is made up of muscle, fat and connective tissue – the muscle is what we think of as meat; the fat melts or crisps during cooking, adding flavour and moisture; collagen-heavy connective tissues (such as tendons and ligaments) also break down if cooked for long enough; but other connective tissues (such as cartilage and membranes) don’t break down and are what we subsequently label as gristle. Note that while we have a preference to avoid gristle in Western cooking, the stretchy and chewy texture is prized and enjoyed in some cuisines.

Back to Martin’s lessons on newer ways of cutting beef. Whipping out a long lump of meat from the shoulder blade, he tells me that this was (and still is) commonly cut and sold as feather steak. But the feather has gristle running right down the centre, meaning that every steak has a piece of gristle at its heart. Another option is to cut the long blade into two thin pieces, remove the gristle completely and then divide the two long flat irons, as they are known, into individual portions.

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Martin cutting feather blade into two, removing membrane and creating flat iron steaks

Martin also tells me how butchery changed in the years following World War II; beef was far less readily available and animals were older and tougher too so butchers broke the meat down into smaller cuts, separating the tender ones from the tougher ones, to allow for different cooking. Now that we have access to top quality beef again, there are still cuts that benefit from long, slow cooking, but it is also be very straightforward to choose quick-to-cook, tender cuts.

 

Kavey’s Guide to Beef Cuts & Dishes

Mince

Although it’s not really a cut so much as (usually unspecified cuts of) beef ground through a mincer, mince is one of the most popular ways we buy and eat beef.

Restaurant chef Mat Follas often cooks mince at home as his kids love dishes such as “burgers, meatballs and lasagnes”. Bloggers Alicia Fourie, Laura Scott, Karen Burns-Booth and Kathryn and are also fans, praising its versatility and adding dishes such as meat loaf, chilli, spagbol, cottage pie and keema to the list. My husband Pete makes a mean ragu, letting it cook longer for a more tender texture.

Alicia’s recently purchased a mincer attachment for her stand mixer so may switch to making her own; I hope she’ll share tips on which cuts are best for which dish.

beef_mince
Mince

Braising / Stewing – Shin of Beef, Ox Cheek, Brisket, Chuck, Oxtail, Short Rib, Flank

Everyone I spoke to loves braising beef – cooking it long and slow in liquid until even the toughest cuts become tender. Collagen is your friend here, as it breaks down into a gelatinous sauce that adds flavour and richness.

Blogger Sally Prosser (a Brit transplanted to Dubai) loves “slow-cooked casseroles with red wine, bay leaves and carrots or a beef stew with dumplings” at “any time of the year, even the height of a Dubai summer”. Food blogger and journalist Neil Davey buys “the low and slow” stuff (listing several braising cuts) more than anything else as he likes “no fuss hearty cooking”. At this time of the year, he uses the slow cooker a lot. “While these are no longer the bargain cuts they were, you still get a lot of bang for the buck”. He uses these rather than mince for dishes like chilli, cottage pie and pasta sauces.

Food blogger Helen Best-Shaw recommends “shin of beef for long slow cooking, it is so rich and also very affordable”. Laura agrees, telling me beef shin is her favourite “as it makes the most tender yet fully flavoured stew. It does need lots of cooking time” but she reckons its worth it.

Karen and Alicia favour brisket; Karen says it’s her “number one cut for flavour” and recommends “Hunting Beef – an old English recipe where the beef is marinated for 4 days in a spiced salt rub”. This cut is also a popular choice for making corned beef, salt beef and pastrami.

Alicia and Neil are the only ones to mention my personal favourite, ox cheek which is still an underrated (and therefore bargainous) cut. I adore it in dishes like beef cheeks bourguignon and Chinese-style braised ox cheek, but it also works beautifully substituted into recipes such as balsamic and red wine braised lamb or beef carbonnade with mustard toasts. Make sure you (or your butcher) remove(s) any remaining membranes before cooking cheeks whole or cubed. Incidentally, I’m really not sure why beef cheeks (and tails, liver and blood) are often labelled as ox – the term more commonly refers to cattle used as draft animals rather than for food. I guess it’s one of those language hangovers…

beef_shin bone in & boneless,cubes,braising stk beef_rolled brisket
Shin (bone in, boneless, cubed) and rolled brisket

Roasting – Rib, Picanha, Sirloin

When Martin told me that Brits roast far less than they used to, I didn’t believe him and yet only two of the friends I spoke to listed a roasting joint in their top three cuts.

Neil, Karen and I are in complete agreement that the best joint for roasting is a (fore) rib of beef. As Karen points out, it would be her number one beef purchase if the cost weren’t so prohibitive, and likewise Neil does a rib roast a couple of times a year. There’s no question in my mind that beef rib is the tastiest choice – the texture of the meat, the marbling of fat through the meat, contributing to its superb flavour. But yes, this is an expensive joint. Cooking for two, I often buy a boned and rolled rib, but if cooking for more, bone in is gorgeous.

Topside and silverside are two very common roasting joints. Usually significantly less than half the price per kilo of rib joints, this makes them very popular, and a decade ago these were the joints Pete I usually bought; we took supermarkets on their word that these cuts were great for roasting. Eventually we realised we were more often disappointed than happy with their taste and texture, and decided we’d rather have really fabulous roast beef once every few months than mediocre roast beef every couple of weeks.

Another cut that I think makes a fantastic roast is the picanha (aka rump cap). Picanha is the cut’s Brazilian name, by the way, and it’s a highly prized piece of beef. Here, it’s often cut and sold as steaks, but ask your butcher to sell you the rump cap in one piece and try it for your next roast.

My other choice, when there’s no rib available, is a very thick slab of sirloin. The meat counter in our local supermarket cuts sirloin steaks to your preferred thickness; instead of asking for steaks, I have them cut me one piece about 7-8 cm thick, which makes a quick two person roast (with leftovers for a tasty sandwich).

Where I don’t want to stretch budget to one of my three preferred roasting cuts, I’d rather roast a chicken or lamb, or cook a braising joint long and slow, in liquid.

I certainly recommend avoiding beef sold only as a ‘roasting joint’ without any indication of cut, like a recent example from our local supermarket, bought when the meat shelves were unusually bare. Sadly, for all the label’s fancy talk of Hereford Beef and 30 days dry aging, it was enormously disappointing.

beef_forerib & boneless rib,& single rib beef_Boneless rolled sirloin,Sirloin stk
Fore rib of beef (bone in and boneless) and boneless sirloin

Steaks

The two front runners for choice of steak are rib eye followed by sirloin.

Rib eye is my own favourite, and our number one purchase for a perfect dinner of steak and triple cooked chips – Pete’s in charge of those and they’re super!

At home, Mat also chooses rib eye because “it has flavour, unlike most other cuts, from lots of fat”. Neil agrees. A few years ago he attended a comparison session between rib eye, fillet, rump and sirloin. He says, “Fillet is boring as, sirloin and rump are both very good, but a well marbled piece of rib-eye, cooked somewhere around medium-rare / medium so that there’s a char and all that fat is starting to melt? That’s what it’s all about.” Laura too loves a rib eye, “well marbled with a good layer of fat”, adding that it’s “the fat that provides the most flavour when it comes to a good steak”. She’s also a fan of wagyu (high quality, highly marbled Japanese beef) for the same reason.

Sirloin is the steak of choice for Sally, as it offers “the perfect balance of fat to meat ratio for a fat-averse family”. She also buys 3 kilo whole sirloins for the barbecue. I don’t find it as flavoursome as rib eye but if you can find a longer aged piece, that helps.

What about other cuts?

Steaks from the rump are usually very good, though I’d recommend seeking out the newer cuts Martin describes above, where the three rump muscles are separated and then cut into steaks individually.

Kathryn reckons that “ribeye and rump give you quite a lot of ‘bang for your buck’ particularly when it comes to flavour”. She also finds rump “is a bit more forgiving when it comes to timings and you can cook it for a little longer and it doesn’t get ruined”.

Incidentally, when it comes to cooking any of the fattier steaks (such as rib eye) I recommend taking them to medium rare (or even medium if that’s your preference) rather than rare; this allows the fat within the meat to melt and the larger pieces of fat to brown.

Flat iron, another cut that I talked to Martin about, is another tasty and somewhat more affordable choice, though I rarely see it in supermarkets; a butcher is your best bet. It’s cut from feather blade piece but divided into two to remove the central gristle, which leaves two long thin pieces that can be portioned into three or four steaks.

If you’ve ever travelled to France you’ll be familiar with onglet and bavette, two popular cuts served in restaurants across the country. Karen (who spends much of her time in France) loves rump for flavour but in France she’ll usually opt for bavette, which offers flavour at a great price. So what are onglet and bavette in UK terminology? Onglet is known here as hanger, skirt or butcher’s steak, cut from the plate (diaphragm) area and with a really deep flavour. Bavette is flank steak, taken from just behind the onglet and is also dense and well flavoured. Both are best cooked fast on a very hot griddle, medium rare to rare. Overcooking these can result in dry or tough steaks.

Flat iron, onglet/skirt and bavette/flank are also great choices for marinating before cooking.

Fillet is known as the most tender cut, but it has very little fat and lacks the flavour of the other cuts; I would never choose it myself. (For American readers, this cut is what you guys call tenderloin).

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Skirt (onglet) steak

 

Buying British

Perhaps it’s a function of who I asked, but everyone I spoke to makes an effort to seek out British beef and lamb.

Mat, being a kiwi, has an excuse for choosing New Zealand lamb, though he also points out that British lamb is sold in early spring when it’s not had much time running around in fields and is too young to have developed enough flavour. When it comes to beef, he buys British. For his restaurant he buys from a butcher or wholesaler, for home it’s a split between butcher and supermarket. He says he’d “rather spend a little more for quality and have less quantity”, echoing my own thoughts on enjoying a fabulous beef rib roast every now and again rather than an inferior roast every fortnight.

Karen buys British when she’s in the UK and French or New Zealand when in France, preferring organic, locally sourced meat with a known provenance.

Neil explains that although he’s “been known to happily devour USDA steaks at Goodman”, when cooking at home, he buys British, noting that “we produce some of the finest meat in the world; the fall out of the BSE problem and Foot & Mouth has been a massive improvement in farming standards and improved labelling”.

Laura has been to visit two animals farms (something I’ve also done) and believes “our meat is of a high standard”. She buys organic or Freedom foods meat, keeping an eye out for special offers which she stores in the freezer.

Alicia always seeks out British, and if there’s none available, she doesn’t buy. She says that although “Rayner makes a compelling case for New Zealand lamb, for [her] it isn’t about the food miles so much as supporting British farmers and creating food that has a sense of the place we live in”. She doesn’t “understand steak houses that open here making a virtue of the fact that they use American beef – the British beef I have had is the best I have had anywhere”.

While Matt may not yet have much knowledge of cuts, he does “pretty much avoid buying non-British”. As he hates the “overall big supermarket experience” he buys most of his meat from local independent butchers, which he has within walking distance. When “it’s a choice between rubbish ‘local’ supermarkets who aren’t good for meat, or fabulous, friendly independent butchers who really know what they’re doing, it’s no surprise I end up in the butchers”.

 

Contributors

Alicia Fourie foodycat.blogspot.co.uk
Helen Best-Shaw fussfreeflavours.com
Karen Burns-Booth lavenderandlovage.com
Kathryn londonbakes.com
Laura Scott howtocookgoodfood.co.uk
Mat Follas matfollas.com
Matt Gibson gothick.org.uk
Neil Davey nrdavey.co.uk
Sally Prosser mycustardpie.com

With thanks to Quality Standard Beef & Lamb for arranging a private masterclass with Martin Eccles and giving us some delicious British beef and lamb to take home. Further information about British beef (and lamb), including quality assurance, nutrition, cuts and carving advice can be found at the Simply Lamb & Beef website. Additional images courtesy of Quality Standard Mark and Shutterstock.

Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!
33 Comments to "Which Cuts Of Beef Are Best For…?"

  1. Anita-Clare Field

    Excellent appraisal. I am a huge fan of brisket, we’ve just got a smoker so yesterday after 16 hours it emerged ready for shredding into chilli. I am with Helen on shin. My Grandmother used this as a staple in all her stews and so do I now. Another cut we were introduced to by master butcher, Donald Russell this year is Rib trim. It trumps skirt and shin for taste when slow cooked, I made Carbonnade de Beouf and I have to say I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Not cheap, but completely worth it. I love this piece – Shared 🙂

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Anita-Clare, my Pete made a beautiful ragu just a couple of days ago with beef rib trim! And thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  2. kaveyeats

    There are only two of us but I do love a good roast. We’ll either go for a small rolled rib of beef, with the view that leftovers will be delicious and put to good use, or the small slab of sirloin, and it doesn’t need ages, usually a lot less time than the roasties.

    Reply
  3. Patricia Massey

    Flat iron is available in most Morrison’s & has become a star for marinades, perfect beef & mushroom.
    A good choice for stir-fry’s & stroganoff type dishes too, in fact a bit of an all rounder at about £11 KG.
    Morrison’s stock a range of new steak cuts such as the Denver steak, Flat Iron, and the Bullet, I’ve only tried the flat iron so far.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Thanks Patricia. Sadly, I don’t have a Morrison’s near me, which is a shame as I’ve heard good things about both the range of products on their meat counters and also the fact that they have fully trained butchers.

    Reply
  4. Sally - My Custard Pie

    Really useful especially translating the different cuts from France. After we spoke, I marinated and slow cooked a large piece of grass-fed brisket on the barbecue, Texas-style. It was absolutely stunning.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Ooh very nice! Thanks, on the French cuts I’ve often enjoyed these in France, so figured it was about time I properly understood the equivalent British cuts and terminology. Your barbecue brisket sounds amazing!

    Reply
  5. Karen

    A comprehensive and extremely interesting article Kavey. It was also fascinating to read what others thought about certain cuts of meat and what/how they cook with them. Shin is a cut that I love, and yet I forgot to mention it, although I am also a HUGE fan of ox cheek too, which are very popular in France. Would love to taste Pete’s Ragu – is the recipe around anywhere? Karen

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Hey Karen, thank you so much for your contributions. To be fair, since I only asked for everyone’s top three cuts, I know that many of you will of course cook with others than the three you listed for me. Glad to know you are also an ox cheek fan. I’m hoping to post about Pete’s ragu soon.

    Reply
  6. Jon

    Learning about cuts is a long, but rewarding experience! I still feel like I’ve got a long way to go. Having a top butcher makes a big difference though and I’m lucky enough to live near Nathan’s Butchery in SE23.

    I remember my first Onglet in a superb old school bistro in Paris around seven years ago and it’s been my favourite steak cut ever since. A top notch ribeye is tough to beat tho.

    Slow cooking gives you so much more freedom to choose tougher, but more flavourful cuts. I’m a huge fan of beef shin – you do get plenty of sinew or connective tissue which has makes the commentary on new butchery skills above very interesting.

    Getting a smoker opens a whole other world though. In addition to plenty of stuff with pork cuts, I’ve done brisket with spectacular results and denver- one of the cuts mentioned here. The next step for me on the smoker has to be lamb though – I’m looking forward to experimenting on that front!

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    I’m always still learning Jon, it’s just a tasty thing to “study”!
    Yes, onglet is definitely tied up in memories of trips to France, but so good cooked at home too!
    We probably do more slow cooking than steaks, as it’s great for batch cooking too — two or three meals in one go.
    I’ve not smoked yet, though!

    Reply
  7. Laura@howtocookgoodfood

    I always love to read about other people’s meat choices but ow could I have forgotten to mention brisket which I love so much, and now that you mention it, I will be eyeing up ox cheeks next time I visit my butcher. Like Karen , I think Petes ragu would go sown a storm in our house. It did look excellent fro your Instagram pics, thanks for including my two penneth worth here!

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Thanks Laura, yes definitely go for the ox cheeks, I do love them.
    I’ll try and blog Pete’s ragu soon!

    Reply
  8. kellie@foodtoglow

    Kavey, you know I am mainly vegetarian, bordering on vegan most of the time, but this is a fantastic summary of anything you would wish to know about buying and cooking beef in this country. Very well-written, researched and illustrated. It is interesting to read not only your personal tips but the contributions of your fellow informed bloggers, a butcher, and Matt Follas (Is he your friend? Wow. Love him). Some of the French terms are popular in Edinburgh (influence of the Auld Alliance?), but as an ex-pat American I grew up with somewhat different cuts (short ribs are always a tricky one to get here) and names. My mom used to do a fantastic slow-cooked brisket and the occasional sauerbraten (she was German): I can almost now conjure up the taste. I think if you aren’t sure about cuts for specific recipes you are always best to ask an independent butcher – or Morrisons, which I hear is consistently excellent for advice and meat – rather than risk buying something that just looks like what you need. Words of wisdom from a near-vegetarian – lol! Really a fantastic piece, Kavey.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Kellie, thank you so much for your very kind comment. I really appreciate it, and I’m so glad you liked the format and the content. Yes, all the contributors are friends, Mat included. I still think of him as Ming, though, in my head! Ming Follas!
    I am just getting used to translating French to British for cuts, but the American ones are quite different again. I think at some point I’ll try and do a post translating those too!
    Thanks again!

    Reply
  9. Kathryn

    Such an interesting article and definitely one that I’m going to come back to time and time again – it’s really made me realise how many different cuts there are out there and how much more I can do with beef!

    Reply
  10. Glasgowscran

    I love love love rib eye steaks for flavour. Probably the only cut I would have medium-rare to medium (rather than rare) in order for the fat to render.

    Fillet mignon, onglet, cote de boeuf and Chateaubriand are also firm favourites of my belly!

    In my opinion, when it comes to a roast, you can’t beat rib.

    Good quality beef from a passionate producer is essential!

    I love cow.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Aah, totally in agreement! I love cow too. I actually also love the animals, love to talk to them and stroke their soft soft faces. My Indian relatives found it hilarious when I did that to wandering cows, when I used to visit on holiday!

    Reply
  11. Food Urchin

    Good work Kavey!

    Though I am now filled with some trepidation because I have just bought some onglet to go into a pie.

    WILL THIS CUT WORK????

    *sinks to knees and looks up to the sky, arms aloft*

    we shall see………………………..

    (Actually, the butcher and a chef is in agreement with me that it should)

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Hello Daisy, my dear. Of course it’ll work, will be properly lovely. I hope my recommendations above don’t suggest that the cuts recommended can’t also be used in other ways as well? 🙁
    Please bring me pie. I am still waiting for the promised magpie pie!

    Reply
  12. Koj

    Hi Kavey, I haven’t posted here for a while, but it was a lovely indulgence to read your blog on beef.

    I don’t actually cook that much beef professionally – as a private chef, my clients choose on behalf of their guests and tend to go for lamb, venison, duck and game ahead of beef (and chicken).

    And when they do choose beef, it is usually fillet, which although disappointing from the perspective of flavour and value for money, does at least give me a nice colour on the plate (assuming I’ve not overcooked it!).

    As for braising, it’s also my personal favourite but it’s tricky to make it presentable, so I’d usually braise ahead and form into croquettes / rissoles, to make it pretty on the plate, as well as flavoursome and texturally interesting. These cuts are probably cheaper per kg, but they take more energy and labour to turn them into something for fine dining.

    When I’m braising, I always use shin – it’s what my mum always bought. But for portioning and presenting a lump of meat, there’s nothing like cheek – no other cut can hold its shape after 12 hours of braising. I must admit that when I’m trying to sell it to a client, I often refer to it as beef cheek, only to revert to ox cheek for the written menu, to restore the sense of the exotic, for anyone who hasn’t tried it before. And if anyone thinks it’s weird or gross to eat the cheek, I ask if they like a rump steak, which is a cheek from the other end!

    I’m with you on topside and silverside. Roasting is a waste of time and energy as far as I’m concerned – I’d rather have a nut roast! Perhaps they are good for curing, or raw, but it’s a scandal they’ve been fobbed off as roasting joints for so long! Fore rib is clearly the way ahead, if you can justify the expense and I shall look out picanha – rump cap rings a bell, but I can’t say I’ve ever asked my butcher for it. Like you, I discovered roast sirloin, but only by mistake, when my butcher delivered it without splitting into steaks. For steaks, my order is also: rib eye, sirloin, rump!

    I’m not a great fan of mince. It is versatile but so does MDF. I confess I quite like meatballs, but I’d much rather a cottage pie with braised meat, than braised mince. As for ragu, I’m happier with pesto – it’s quicker to make and still has umami. The best ragu I ever had was a wild boar one at an Italian restaurant in Mayfair (Delfino’s I think) – the meat was braised until it pulled. I suspect that very few people actually “brown the mince” as the recipe instructs – too often the meat is ‘greyed’ and the water is not driven off – perhaps that’s why many recipes include bacon – to improve the flavour. I do enjoy a burger, but not because of the meat – it’s as much for the combination of the toasted bun, the melting cheese, the watery crunch of iceberg, the juicy acidity of sliced tomatoes, the sharp sweetness of onions and vinegared gherkins!

    I’m lucky with local beef, I get great tasting longhorn beef from a farm 20 minutes away. I do occasionally buy at the supermarket and although I look to see whether it is UK beef or not, I don’t reject it if it’s not. I’m just sad and surprised that it’s cheaper to ship it in from thousands of miles away (I haven’t read the Rayner book). I’m lucky to have two very good butchers locally, both of whom take an interest in eating as well as butchery – they are full of advice (often cooking advice!) and suggestions – which helps me come up with more interesting dishes. I don’t get that at the supermarket of course, I don’t know what breed the cattle is, it’s usually already cut up in a way that might not suit me and it’s very rare to get a chance to try something new or different. I might pop into Morrisons though and test that out.

    I had superb roast potatoes on Sunday, cooked by a friend. Looking forward to reading about roasties!

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Hey Koj, lovely to hear from you, it’s been far too long!

    Really interesting perspective in terms of cooking for clients — you’re completely right that braised meat, whilst utterly delicious, always looks like brown sludge on a plate and is therefore a hard sell for fine dining. Croquettes etc make it much more faffy, though I can see how they improve presentation.

    I’m glad I’m not alone in my feelings about topside and silverside, I simply stopped buying these for roasting several years ago and have much improved my happiness with our beef roasts since then.

    I do agree that braised meat shredded or pulled apart makes a wonderful ragu or cottage/ shepherd’s pie but I must put my hand up and defend mince. As you say, if it’s properly browned rather than steamed in the pan and allowed to cook sufficiently, it can be a wonderful and very affordable way of eating beef.

    We are unfortunate not to have a local butcher. The two nearest are not great either, one specialising in frozen exotic meats from overseas and the other has lacked in customer service, fobbing me off with inferior product. I hear he’s better to his regulars but I want great service from the outset in order to be motivated to become a regular. I mostly buy from Waitrose and directly from farmers online, these days.

    Thanks again for reading!

    Reply
  13. Lisa

    I love feather blade. It makes the best stews, and there’s no need to cut out the gelatinous strip in the middle as it cooks out after a few hours, giving the gravy a gorgeous thickness. Often when I’m cutting it up for stew, I’ll keep one piece aside, and then cook it as a steak, just for me. Brilliant flavour. My butcher suggested getting a whole piece, and slow cooking it a la pulled pork, so that’s next on the list!

    Reply
  14. Jen

    This is an excellent post Kavey, I’ve realised that I really know very little about beef. Living on a student budget for so long has meant that I’ve only ever really bought mince or stewing steak having dismissed everything else as too expensive/didn’t know how to cook it properly. Thanks for such a well researched piece.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    In terms of stewing steak, you could replace that (if it’s comparative on price) with one of the other slow-cooked cuts mentioned, such as shin or ox cheek and see how you like them? Or ask your butcher to tell you which cut they are using/ labelling as stewing steak.

    Reply
  15. Fede

    Very interesting indeed… I am guilty of always buying the same cuts and not experimenting enough, actually… but at least I always look at provenance, buy british and free range as much as I can, and especially if I can trace the farm itself, eg regarding animal welfare.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    I think when we know we will enjoy an old favourite it can be hard to experiment with an unknown. Only natural!

    Reply
  16. Elizabeth

    I confess to being one of those people who don’t think much about the cut of beef, and just buy whatever is affordable (and local – Shetland beef is one of the best!). What a fantastic, informative post – bookmarked for future reference!

    Reply

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