Flat Iron, Picanha, Onglet and More:
If you regularly buy your meat from a supermarket, you may have noticed a raft of labelling on meat packaging. And a raft of new cuts of meat – Flat Iron, Hanger and Picanha. It appears there is a connection between the two, as I learnt at a recent event, all in the interest of better quality, cheaper meat. The Quality Standard Mark is a label which should assure you that the standard of meat you are buying will be high. The scheme has a strict selection procedures including a full provenance, set ageing criteria and the exclusion of older animals which may give tougher meat. And, there’s an increasing trend for QSM accredited butchers to use a technique called seam butchery to ensure that individual cuts are as good as possible, which in its turn has resulted in a range of new steak cuts to try.
I went along to l’Atelier des Chefs to learn more about seam cut meat and to find out how to cook some more unusual cuts of steak, which are appearing more and more frequently in butchers and supermarkets. The idea of Seam Butchery is to remove muscles by following the natural seams of the meat, to minimise wastage and improve the eating quality of the meat. Rather than cutting based on the bone structure of the animal, seam butchery follows the muscles. In that way, it is possible to remove more fat and gristle and ensures that the meat is easier to cook because the muscle is ‘consistent’. The result is a number of new ‘steak’ cuts which, at least for now, are rather cheaper than the traditional Fillet, Sirloin and Rump and which I learnt, if cooked properly are absolutely delicious. From bottom to top you can see Picanha, Flat Iron, Onglet or Hanger Steak and Bone-In Sirloin.
Of particular interest to me was hanger or onglet steak. I’d actually bought some a few weeks ago and tried to cook it. While it wasn’t bad, it was nothing like as special as the samples cooked for us, or indeed, as the concoctions we made for ourselves a little later. I was curious about a cut called flat iron, which I had wrongly assumed was some kind of tenderised rump steak. In fact, it is a special cut from the shoulder of the animal. Cut properly it is as tender as any sirloin and has a good meaty flavour. And, best of all it will cost you around £3.00 for 200grams (about a third of the cost of sirloin and a quarter of the cost of fillet steak).
In fact, I went on to cook my own flat iron steaks with chargrilled sweet pepper relish, using the recipe provided by The Meat Elite. Ready in around 15 minutes, I had a bit of a feast!
Actually so did everyone else – we all sat down to try each other’s creations.
- 350 g Flat Iron Steak cut into two lean steaks
- Salt and freshly milled Black Pepper
- 4 sprigs Thyme chopped
- 2 teaspoons Rapeseed Oil
- 25 g Kalamata Olives stoned and drained
- 75 g Chargrilled Peppers in Oil drained
- 2 sprigs Fresh Thyme
- 1/2 Lemon juiced
- Take the steak out from the fridge at least an hour before cooking so that it is at room temperature
- Prepare the sweet pepper relish by putting the olives, peppers, half the thyme and the lemon juice into a blender and zapping till you have a rough paste. Check the seasoning and add salt if required
- Season the steaks well with the remaining herbs and some salt and pepper. Oil on both sides
- Grill or griddle the steaks depending on your taste. 2 minutes each side for rare, 3-4 minutes for medium rare and 5-7 minutes on each side for medium. This steak is best served rare or medium rare.
- Once the steak is cooked, remove it from the pan and cover with foil. Allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve with the relish to one side or spooned over the steak.
The recipe I picked, as you can see, is really simple – and the result was delicious! I’ve included the reference chart from The Meat Elite, simply because I find it a really useful reminder.
And a little more about each of the cuts we tried. I know I’ll be experimenting a bit more in the next few months, especially as Barbecue season is coming up!
With many thanks to Simply Beef and Lamb for inviting me to their event and for sponsoring this feature. This particular event really helped my understanding of some of the more unusual cuts of beef that I’ve started to see in the shops and I know it will help me save money! All views are editorially given.