Cuts – not all parts of the cow are suitable for steaks. For great steak the muscle fibres must be thin desirable with fat overgrowths (fat is the main carrier of flavour). The most common steak cuts are from muscle – the loin, striploin, tenderloin and their combinations in case of bone-in steaks. Cuts such as diaphragm (hanger steak) and cuts from hip are gaining popularity in Poland, but they are more difficult to prepare. Cuts nomenclature is not universal, in fact each country has its own, the most popular divisions of carcass are: French, German and Anglo-Saxon. The most popular types of steaks:
- fillet mignon (middle part of the beef tenderloin),
- rib eye (entrecote, rib part of the carcass),
- hanger/butcher’s diaphragm (diaphragm),
- fiorentina/florentine steak (rostbef + fillet, largest, 1,5 kg, local varieties of Italian cows),
- porterhouse (striploin + fillet, smaller, predominant fillet),
- T-bone (striploin + fillet, greater proportion of striploin),
- tomahawk (rib eye with 5 inch rib bone),
- Cote de Boeuf (entrecote with short bone),
- flat iron/oyster blade (upper part of the shoulder, cheaper cut, requires skilful preparation, frequent way for inexpensive Wagyu),
- rum cap (top of the thigh, also cheaper cut with a dense and hard structure).
Aging – the most significant factor of the quality of steak meat. First of all, the meat shrinks after slaughter (rigor mortis phase) and will be hard – it must rest for at least 3 days. The maturing process consists of
- Depriving the meat of excess water,
- Pre-treatment of the meat under the influence of enzymes produced by the bacteria existing in the meat.
The minimum aging period for steak meat is 21 days. The meat may be “dry” or “wet” aged. Dry aging – meat rests in special well-ventilated refrigerators/freezers with low humidity at an exactly controlled temperature. Dry-aged meat is more expensive because it loses a lot of weight and the top layer must be removed before grilling. Wet aging takes place at a temperature close to zero, the meat is vacuum-packed – less weight loss, no need to cut off the top layer but also less flavour concentration and worse meat texture.