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All About Steak

At the last count there were 14 different cuts of steak, many of which have more than one name. So the first job is to list the more popular ones and the appropriate methods of cooking them. This list is by no means definitive, there are probably even more names out there for the same cuts, but it's a start and will keep you from making the more common mistakes.

Many steak recipes call for marinades and not all steaks can be grilled. In fact, there are very few that can be cooked really successfully in this way. But each cut has its place in a balanced group of beef recipes, so let's take a look at them. Blade Sometimes called 'bolar', this steak comes from the neck, shoulder and brisket and is usually braised, but can be pan-fried or grilled after marinating.

It would not be most people's first choice. Chuck Definitely one for braising, or for making into a casserole, which is when it comes into its own. You will need to trim it carefully. It comes from the shoulder area. Club Steak This is the same as wing rib and is for roasting.

A superb cut of meat and you will pay accordingly, if you can get hold of some. Most of it goes to hotels and restaurants. It's a relatively small part of the carcass comprising the last two ribs. Eye Fillet Also known as the tenderloin, this is usually and justifiably the most expensive cut. There's not very much of it and it's found under the sirloin, or middle back.

It's excellent for the barbecue and the broiler. It is also chopped finely and eaten raw, as in Steak Tartare. Fillet Sometimes called 'Undercut', this is excellent for the barbecue, grilling or pan frying. Some braising recipes also stipulate it. It's the tail end of the eye fillet. Flank This is the unkindest cut of all and comes from the underside of the carcass, just forward of the back legs.

It's good for braising and casseroles, but requires extended cooking. It's excellent in slow cookers such as crock-pots. New York Cut That's what we Aussies call it, but in fact it's the famous English Porterhouse, the French entrecôte and arguably the tastiest of all the steaks. It requires a little patience to remove the filament of gristle just under the fat, but it's worth the effort. This steak is one of two that makes up the T-bone and is also called the Sirloin Steak.

Rib Steak It's pretty unusual to come across this cut as a steak. It's usually served as a standing rib roast which is probably the best use for it. The steaks are huge and cut from the back-end of the 'hump'.

You would barbecue, pan-fry or grill these, though they could be braised. Rump: As you would expect, this steak is from the rump of the beast and is good for barbecue, broiler and skillet. It may also be braised. Scotch fillet Also call club steak and rib-eye. It comes from the same part of the beast as the rib steaks and can be braised or, after marinating, pan-fried or grilled. Also cooks well on the barbecue, but needs a good marinade.

T-bone This is really two steaks in one. It has the Porterhouse on one side and the fillet on the other. It can be barbecued, grilled or pan-fried, and responds well to a light marinade.

Topside In Australia this is called Round Steak and is often used for fish bait. It has another life, however, and is good for braising or making beef olives. It also casseroles reasonably well and makes a good goulash. From time to time you may come across other minor cuts such as 'crosscut blade' or 'flat bone sirloin'. Generally speaking these are only good for casseroling or dishes where extended cooking is required.

Michael Sheridan is a former head-chef and an acknowledged authority and published writer on cooking matters. His website at http://www.thecoolcook.com contains a wealth of information, hints, tips and recipes for busy home cooks

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