Beef Cuts on the Menu
All beef sold in markets is divided into fore and hind quarters. The butcher then breaks it down into primal cuts and then down to the cuts most of us are somewhat more familiar with.
A – Fillet Steak
B – Sirloin Steak
C – Rump Steak
D – Churrasco
The tenderest steaks come from the parts of the animal that get the least amount of body movement and have less connective tissue (fillet, porterhouse, sirloin and rib/ ribeye). Steaks from areas that experience a lot of stress from movement will be tougher, but the rule of thumb is that the most worked muscles will also deliver the strongest flavours.
After being cut into subprimal sections and individual steaks, Comedor steak meat is placed in a cooler fridge , also known as a “hot box”, for approximately three weeks. This process involves considerable expense, as the beef must be stored near freezing temperatures, typically between 0 and 4 C. Furhtermore, during the process of dry ageing, meat loses a substantial amount of weight. For 21-day aged beef shrinkage can be as high as 25%. Finally, only the higher grades of meat can be dry aged, as the process requires meat with a large, evenly distributed fat content.
The key effect of dry aging is the concentration and saturation of the natural flavor. The process changes beef by two means. Firstly, moisture is evaporated from the muscle. This creates a greater concentration of beef flavour and taste. Secondly, the beef’s natural enzymes break down the connective tissue in the muscle, which leads to more tender beef.
Fillet steak (bife de lomo) – a steak cut of beef taken from the tenderloin (section A), or psoas major of the beef carcass, usually a steer or heifer. The tenderloin runs along both sides of the spine, and is usually harvested as two long snake-shaped cuts of beef. When sliced along the short dimension, the steaks are roughly round. The tenderloin is the softest cut of beef, and is also the most expensive. The average steer or heifer provides no more than 4-6 pounds of it. Because the muscle is not weight-bearing, it contains less connective tissue, which makes it tender.
Sirloin steak (bife de chorizo) – Sirloin steak comes from the sirloin, located in the mid part of the hindquarters (section B on the chart). According to legend, King Henry VIII so loved this steak he dubbed it “Sir Loin.” Sirloin is a tender steak, perfect for grilling. This cut is not quite so buttery-tender as fillet, but the trade-off is its deep, rich flavor. Sirloin is often trimmed in a way that a thin, but juicy strip of fat is left along one side of the steak.
Rump steak (bife de cuadril) – a steak cut from the meat found near the cow’s tail at the end of its spine. (section C on the chart). Our cut is the most tender part of this working muscle. Nevertheless, expect it to be somewhat firmer than either the fillet or the sirloin, but to make up for it with its strong and unique flavor.
Churrasco (similar to rib eye or Porterhouse – section D on the chart) – the word churrasco is used throughout Latin America to describe beef cooked on the grill, although the precise meaning varies from country to country. In Brazil, for example, churrasco is the generic term for barbecue. In Nicaragua it refers to a broad, thin steak cut from a beef tenderloin. Our churrasco is a traditional Argentinian cut across the meat grain. This steak will contain a bone and some fat tissue, but aficionados swear by its flavor. Churrasco’s size also contributes to its appeal.