The legs contain cuts that are better suited to long cooking at a low temperature – or slow cooking. Shin and brisket are particularly known as being better suited to slow cooking. Braise for 4-5 hours and the meat will be meltingly soft and easily shredded.
Topside, silverside, and rump are from the rear of the animal. Not as hard-working as the leg muscles lower down, these are ideal for roasting slowly, leaving them a little rare. A well-done rump steak can tend to be dry so leave it pink and it will taste much better.
Chuck and blade are from the shoulders. Again, a hard-working muscle which is better for slow cooking to get the most out of it. Our diced beef is taken from the chuck and is perfect for a slow-cooked beef stew.
In the centre of the back we find what we call the 'prime cuts' of beef. The fore rib and sirloin are two of the most popular cuts of beef, and their tenderness is due to the low levels of exercise this area gets. Inside the animal, running along the spine behind the sirloin, lies the fillet. This is the most expensive cut, and is extremely lean and delicately flavoured.
The forerib and sirloin can both be roasted whole, and can be cooked rare or well done as you choose. They are perhaps more widely used when cut into portions. Remove the bones from a forerib and cut it into portions and you are left with ribeye steaks. A portioned sirloin becomes sirloin steaks. The sirloin can be removed with the fillet still attached, and portioned to make T-Bone steaks.
Don’t go for the brightest-red piece of beef. This indicates fresh meat which hasn’t been aged. Ageing beef is a process in which the unwrapped meat is hung in a fridge for a number of weeks, during which time the enzymes in the meat begin to break down. Essentially this is part of the process of food spoiling, but it is necessary for beef, as it makes the meat more tender and helps the flavour develop. All of our beef is hung for at least 21 days, and this is really the minimum needed for beef to be at its peak quality.
When it comes to cooking beef there are many arguments on how to cook steak best. Some say rare is raw, some say well done is ruined. But you have to eat it, so cook it how you like.
Start by getting the meat up to room temperature. Leave it out of the fridge for 30 minutes before you’re going to cook it. Then oil and season the meat itself, not the pan. Cook in a hot pan, so it sizzles as soon as you put your meat in, then turn your steak every 30 seconds to ensure it’s cooked evenly and stays juicy. After cooking cover it and leave it to rest for around 10 minutes. This lets the meat fibres relax and reabsorb the cooking juices, so the steak won’t be dry.
Steak cooking times depend on the cut and thickness of the steak you’re cooking. However there is a simple test to see if your steak is cooked, and we’ve tried and tested it – it works!
Hold your hand in front of you, push down on the fleshy part of your palm under the thumb. This has the feel of a rare steak. Bring your index finger to touch your thumb, and feel the same area – it now has the same feel as a steak cooked medium-rare. Repeat with your middle, ring, and little fingers, and the area under your thumb will have the same resistance as steaks cooked medium, medium-well and well done.