the great british steak off
What do you look for when buying steak? Do you look for ruby red meat? Marbled fat? Lean portions? Do you only look for certain cuts? Or is cheapest the best?
For me, I zero in on the cut I’m in the mood for. If it’s a regular steak-and-chips steak I almost always go to rib-eye. I love the blend of fat and meat, packed with flavour. If it’s ending up in a sandwich, bavette or skirt will do the job.
According to a survey by Statista (below), the appearance of the steak is the most important factor. 93% of people give it a complete once over before deciding on it, followed by 88% concerned with colour. For me this isn’t always a reliable way, as exposure (or not) to oxygen will completely change the colour. Many people are put off by lines of fat, but it’s here the most flavour is stored.
It’s interesting that nearly three quarters of people go for the cut as I do, as each cut does different work.
Aldi ask me to taste test their steaks to see how they fare. I picked up some sirloin, some rump, and my default rib-eye. Aldi’s steaks are 100% British and quality approved by the Government’s certified EBLEX scheme, which improves efficiency in the beef supply chain as well as adding value to the beef industry. Aldi’s fresh meats are also 100% Red Tractor Assured, which means all of their fresh meat is produced safely and responsibly. I hadn’t tried their fresh meat before, so I was intrigued.
What’s the difference?
Rump comes from right up the back end of the cow (unsurprisingly) and has to do quite a bit of work being attached the legs. This extra work makes it a little tougher than other cuts, but develops a strong flavour.
Sirloin is slightly further up the back of the cow, works that little less and has a cream of fat around the outside from the small of the back.
My personal favourite rib-eye is from the upper rib cage, hardly does a lick of work and capped with fat.
Even just from the photos above, you can tell the looser texture working from left to right. These extra striations of fat offer a less dense structure and a more defined grain. This gives a more tender finish.
I cooked all three the same way: sous-vide at 55°C for 1 hour, quickly finished in a pan to brown. This method gives incredibly consistent results as the water bath brings it to a perfect doneness while the browning provides that desirable brown crust. No other flavouring beyond salt and pepper.
And yes, I enjoyed my rib-eye as always. And the rump was full of strong game flavours. But the sirloin really surprised me. I often overlook sirloin as caught between the strong rump or the tasty rib-eye, neither one thing nor another. But this steak was grassy and buttery with a pronounced beefy flavour. It really changed my mind on sirloin! I’ll definitely be going back for more.
So what do you look out for when buying steak?
Aldi compensated sent me for the steaks.