Beef: a tasty look at four new cuts
I had just returned from living in New York for 17 years and my first visit to the Grey Lynn Butcher had me asking Lucia Rodrigues (the owner) if she could cut me a 2-3 kg pork butt, to which she responded by calling in Eddie, the butcher. “So you want a pork shoulder eh? With the bone in and the skin still on it, right?” I knew right away I had found my butchers!
They want your loyalty and their commitment to fresh, quality meats and meat products demands it. Metro has voted them the best butcher in Auckland for the past two years, which Lucia describes as “one of our proudest and most humbling achievements, simply because it is our customers and community recognising us for everything we set out to achieve”.
They’ve won awards for their sausages and bacon. They stock free-range, organic chicken, free-farmed New Zealand pork, New Zealand organic beef and lamb, dry aged steaks, pure angus steaks, and premium hereford steaks, and they even smoke their own products in-house. They have a wide variety of game including venison, wild boar, wallaby, kangaroo, goat, crocodile, rabbit, hare, geese, turkey, poussin, quails and pheasant. And they’ve got duck fat too, oh yes they do!
I was in buying some t-bones for my steak-out recipes (Bite, January 13) and Eddie got to talking about the newer cut called the flat iron, which led on to other cuts and into today’s column — a tasty look at four new cuts of beef (or old cuts, depending on how you look at them) that are not only flavoursome in the extreme, but cost-effective too.
1. Flat iron steaks
Flat iron or top blade steaks are a recent development (university researchers in America were supposedly charged with what to do with a waste cut of beef from the blade, chuck or shoulder) from a flavourful cut of meat which has an impossibly tough piece of connective tissue running through the middle of it. This new rectangular steak with the connective tissues removed from the middle, is perfect for grilling and supposedly named because it looks like an old-fashioned metal flat iron. It benefits from marinating and is best cooked medium-rare. The flat iron has a deep rich flavour.
To cook: Season room temperature meat well (if you haven’t already marinated it). Barbecue or grill over a medium heat until it is well coloured all over and well heated through the middle. Rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
2. Prime rib
Originally known as standing rib, the prime rib roast dates back in global popularity to the industrial revolution. This quality cut of beef is full of flavour and remains the roast of choice for beef connoisseurs, and has become known as the Sunday roast thanks to the important family tradition in Great Britain. It’s popularity in NZ may be compromised by the relative expense of such a large whole roast (It may contain anywhere from two to seven very large ribs), but if you ask Eddie at the Grey Lynn butcher, he will gladly cut one down to suit your family’s needs. Ideally served rare, it can also be cooked through to well done while maintaining tenderness and flavour. It makes a very impressive special occasion roast.
To cook: Bring the roast to room temperature. Season it well with salt and pepper or your desired rub and slow roast or barbecue the meat “standing” on the rib bones (fat side up). Start the cooking at 225C for 15-20 minutes, then turn heat down to 170C and cook to desired doneness (use a meat thermometer for an accurate guide). You could also cut the roast in to individual “rib eye’’ steaks to grill or barbecue.
Also known as “triangle steak’’, tri-tip is the bottom end of the sirloin and is more commonly used as a stewing or minced meat. Triangular in shape, it best barbecued, roasted or braised whole. You can break it down into smaller steaks but it needs to be well-aged and marinated to prevent toughness. It’s affordable, full of flavour and low in fat.
To cook: Tri tip can be tough, so leave a little of the fat on when cooking and age or marinate it well. To grill or barbecue, sear it over a direct medium heat for 5-10 minutes, then continue to cook it over an indirect heat (you can also finish it in the oven) until it is medium-rare at most (internal temperature of 60C). Rest, then cut across the grain into thin slices and serve warm. Try slowly smoking it (as they do in the US) in a covered barbecue or oven, over a smoking mix, on a low (125C) heat for a long period of time, or sear the meat and braise it slowly in a covered casserole dish with garlic, wine, and lots of black pepper.
4. Skirt steak
Skirt steak is an affordable cut from the plate or belly (diaphragm muscle) of the cow. It is a long, flat, skinny steak, prized for its flavour (over its tenderness). Traditionally considered a second-rate cut it was usually stuffed, rolled and slowly braised) skirt steak’s popularity has risen in conjunction with the Mexican fajitas and carne asada craze of the 1980s (especially in America where Mexican food is king). It’s also a good cut to use when making a Thai beef salad, or a stir fry. Don’t confuse skirt steak with flank steak which is a similar cut nearer the animal’s rear quarter. Also very affordable, flank steak is thicker and tougher than skirt, lending itself well to braising and slow cooking, or marinating and grilling over a longer, more medium heat.
To cook: Trim the skirt of all surface fat and membrane. The meat will benefit from marinating overnight (try a wet marinade of garlic, lemon zest and juice, pepper, chopped chillies, coriander and olive oil) and should be cooked quickly on a hot grill or barbecue and served rare, sliced against the grain.
Visit the Grey Lynn Butcher at 531 Great North Rd, Grey Lynn, Auckland greylynnbutchers.co.nz