Beef is the third most widely consumed meat in the world, accounting for about 25% of meat production worldwide, after pork and poultry at 38% and 30% respectively. United States, Brazil, and China are the world’s three largest consumers of beef. On a per capita basis in 2009, Argentines ate the most beef at 64.6 kg per person; people in the US ate 40.2 kg, while those in the EU ate 16.9 kg. The beef cuts can be seen in detail in the chart above.
- fillet or tenderloin is the most highly prized cut; the muscle isn’t worked very hard so is very lean; it’s a waste to roast or stew it
- sirloin, just above the tenderloin, is covered with a layer of fat (unlike the tenderloin) which melts when properly cooked, giving it a great flavour; top sirloin is preferred to bottom
- ribeye (aka Delmonico steak, scotch fillet, beauty steak, market steak, Spencer steak, Filet de la Thistle and Entrecôte) comes from the rib, with the bone usually removed, though sometimes it is left in, especially in USA. It is marbled with tiny veins of fat.
- T-bone and Porterhouse contain both the fillet and the front of the sirloin; Porterhouse are cut a bit further behind so they have more of the tenderloin and fillet
- rump steak is the cheapest, but it needs to be marinated or tenderized
One common misconception is that steak is necessarily expensive. I have always been able to buy good quality steak cheaply. Consider, for instance, the receipt to the right: 4 portions of meat (quite large), at $5.74+2.58+2.95+9.49 – 6 discount (close to expiry date), plus an additional 10% discount. Obviously, you need to see the steaks to understand what I paid for, but as you might expect, they’re no longer around (and they included some bone / osso bucco); they are part of me.
To cook it, I sprinkle generously with Montreal Steak spice, I let the pan heat up, then I add olive (or sunflower) oil, wait a few seconds until it’s runny, throw the steak in with the sprinkled side down, press it with tongs, let it fry for 30 seconds on each side. Or take Gordon Ramsay’s expose (older) or Jamie Oliver’s.
When everything’s done, I put the pan under a jet of cold water. Some of the water goes into steam, which may look quite dramatic and look like smoke from afar, but it disappears quickly and it doesn’t smell. This makes cleaning the pan a breeze, as the thermal shock allows the leftovers to be easily dislodged, with no damage to the teflon. If the pan had not been properly cleaned before, it will now be like new.
What can go wrong?
I tend to also make a salad to go with the steak so often I’m doing quite a few things at once. On one such occasion, I got a little carried away with the salad and left the oil on high heat (with no steak in, thankfully) for no more than a minute or so. I noticed it smoking, took the pan off the high heat and it spontaneously combusted. Luckily, I did not put it under water, which was my first instinct, but rather starved the fire of oxygen by putting a lid on it. I then left it outside to cool off, then finally washed the pan.
*(*This article is unfinished – it was scheduled to appear in the hope that it will be finished before, but since this message is here and until it is removed, the article is to be considered work in progress*)*.