5th March 2009
It’s the ultimate man food – but how many men know how to get the best out of their weekly slab of steak? Here’s our guide to beefing up your eating habits with the cut that’s right for you
The priciest and tenderest cut – perfect to charm the lady in your life
Few meats have the same lady killing cachet as a beautifully prepared fillet steak. It’s perhaps not the most flavoursome cut on the animal, but it’s the one a dinner guest is most likely to wow over “Fillet is the muscle that opens the cow’s ribs as it breathes,” says Ryan Hattingh, operations manager at Gaucho Restaurants. “It does little work to the muscle fibres are loose, giving it tenderness”.
The bad news is it isn’t so low in fat – with around 7% “It should have no silvery white sinew on it” says Hattingh. That will keep it lean, and improves the texture “Get your butcher to remove it, or your cooked steak will have tough, inedible strips through it – not what you want from a fillet” says Hattingh.
Fillet, like rump steak, can be butterflied or pressed into shape so that the grain of the muscle cooks perpendicular to the pan.
Best cooked: Rare
Expect to pay: £20 (out), £9 (in)
Often considered the lowliest cut, rump is actually lean and vitamin rich power food – and it doesn’t have to be chewy
If you’ve ever been charged by a cow – and we mean chased by a bovine, not billed by a grumpy waitress – you’ll appreciate that the animal has a rare ability to move a ton of flesh and bone at great pace. Rump steak comes from the hardest working muscle, and is only 4% fat.
“The leanest cut comes from the heart of the rump, and is full of vitamins and enzymes because it has received the most bloodflow” says Hattingh. Best if you want to stay lean while getting your vitamins and minerals.
“Ensure the muscle fibres are perpendicular to the pan so the juices can cook between the muscle fibres and your steak will be beautiful and tender,” says Hattingh. If you are going to ruin it by having it well-done, you may as well stick it in the toaster.
Best cooked: Rare
Expect to pay: £12 (out), £4 (in)
With an undeniably tasty blend of texture of taste, a sirloin is a good all – rounder cut, perfect for helping you build brawn
With an average fat content of 4.5%, sirloin is a good balance in flavour and texture between rump and fillet steak. If you’re training hard enough to burn off the extra calories, this is the tastiest muscle food money can buy.
It needs to be cooked slowly and for longer than fillet or rump, so the fat can melt into the meat and unlock the most flavour. Which is of course, one of the main reasons for eating the thing in the first place.
With a fattier cut, it’s also good to go for grass-fed beef, as it contains healthier fats than grain-fed. A study at the University of Bristol found more omega 3 fatty acids in cows that graze – meaning a healthier heart and brain for you, if not for the poor dead cow.
The same study found grass – fed beef also has greater levels of vitamin E, which helps protect your red blood cells. A study by Yale University indicated vitamin E also protects you from muscle damage – so stock up on steak if you’re trying to beef up (sorry).
Best cooked: Medium Rare
Expect to pay: £14 (out), £7 (in)
Eye on the prize
Rib – eye gives you the most flavoursome steak – but save it for special occasions, or periods of really hard training
“I call rib-eye ‘the steak-lovers’ steak” says Hattingh. But at 12-14% aft, be prepared to burn serious calories afterwards.
Rib-eye is made up of two types of meat – the sirloin and skirt muscle from below the cow’s shoulder. Its iron helps regulate your metabolism to give you energy all day.
As there is a lot of fat, flash-frying it and eating it rare won’t get you the best flavour, “You should buy small, thick rib-eye steaks” says Hattingh. “Cook them for longer without turning them into charred bricks. You’ll get more flavour as the fat within the meat effectively gets the steak to self-baste”.
Best cooked: Medium to Medium-Well
Expect to Pay: £15 (out), £6 (in)