for the love of steak

Going out for a delicious steak is always a great idea. It's either with friends, family or on a date and of course we all have favourites, the way we like it prepared and even a specific cut but how well do we really understand the mechanics of different cuts, and how they are prepared?

A cut above

There are various different cuts of steak, and each one has its own unique flavour and texture profile. Let’s look at the four most popular steak cuts in South Africa, plus our new favourite.

Rump

By far one of the best known, the rump steak comes from the rear of the animal. This cut is known for being full of flavour, while allowing you to keep it lean by cutting off the fat (if you really want to). It is, however, one of the more densely packed muscle areas, meaning it isn’t always the most tender piece of steak. This one works extra well if it is well marinated, allowing the enzymes in the marinade to break down the fibres first, especially if you prefer your steak more rare.

Sirloin

This steak comes from the middle-back of the animal, behind the ribs but before the upper part of the legs. It is somewhat more tender than the rump, with a fair amount of flavour. This is a great middle-ground steak cut. It has a little more marbling than the rump, and it is a versatile piece of meat that can easily be cooked to any level of doneness.

Rib-eye

In the last ten to fifteen years, this has become a wildly popular steak cut, thanks to its intense marbling and tenderness. The marbling means this steak is packed full of flavour from both the muscle and the fatty tissue, and it also makes it fall-apart soft. It’s an extremely forgiving piece of steak, too, as it still tastes amazing even if it’s cooked a little longer than you usually like.

Fillet

The fillet is by far the softest, most tender piece of steak, making it a favourite. However, it doesn’t quite pack the flavour punch that the other cuts do, partly because it is also the leanest. That means you should give seasoning careful consideration - you don’t want to overwhelm the delicate flavours, but you also don’t want it to be bland. Because of its low fat content, this piece can dry out if overcooked, so it is best enjoyed no more well-done than medium.

Picanha

The name may be a bit unfamiliar to you, but it’s not that scary, we promise. The Picanha is the piece of steak known as the rump cap. Rather than having a thin strip of fat along the edge, this piece of steak has a layer of fat covering one whole side, and it is best enjoyed by grilling or braaing it with this fatty layer down, so that it makes the flavour burst. This is a very versatile piece of meat and can be enjoyed at any level of doneness.

Quick temperature guide

There are many ways to determine whether your steak is done to the level you prefer, but the most accurate is to measure the internal temperature of the centre of the beef.

The temperature can be measured with a meat thermometer. Remember, however, that straight-from-the-fridge steak will give you highly inaccurate readings. We recommend leaving the steak outside the fridge, covered, for at least one hour before cooking to bring it to room temperature.

 

Top tip - the more well-done you like your steak, the cooler the heat source should be. Cook rare meats quickly over a high temperature, and well-done more slowly over a lower temperature.