Flavour vs. Tenderness
Beef is a beautiful thing.
One animal, so many different cuts. So many different tastes and textures.
When describing an amazing dish, often you will hear the term 'melt in your mouth'.
And we can all relate to that feeling. It's amazing. But I would argue that flavour is just as (if not more) important. Even when it comes to texture, different degrees of tenderness can be different experiences.
Filet mignon is a perfect example. Do I love filet? Sure. But is it my favourite cut? I don't think so. Filet is unique in that you can usually cut it with a fork. With our beef, because it is dry aged 21 days it truly does melt in your mouth. And because it's longhorn, it's also delicious.
But that tenderness still comes at the expense of flavour, and there are cuts that pack much more punch when it comes to taste.
The fact of the matter is that there is usually a trade off taking place. Flavour is related to muscle use. Muscles that are used a lot and have more connective tissue also tend to have very robust flavour. Muscles that are not used (like the tenderloin of the filet mignon) are extremely tender but less flavour. But both can give you a great beef experience.
It all comes down to cut choice and cooking method.
Some cuts (such as striploin or rib steaks) are a nice middle ground. They are tender yet flavourful. Others are tougher (such as inside round) but are packed with delicious goodness. And honestly, sometimes it's nice to have a bit of a chew instead of having your steak disappear in your mouth like cotton candy!
But regardless of cut, it's important to maximize the experience with cooking method. If a steak is on the tougher side, maybe it should be reverse seared. This means slow cooking it to temperature and then searing it off afterward. Or maybe it should be cubed up and stewed. Or maybe baste it in butter or duck fat and braise it slowly all day. I know the talk is always about grilling, but trust me some of the best beef you can eat is a 'cheaper' cut slow cooked to perfection.
If the cut tends toward tenderness, make sure a faster cooking method like grilling is used so you don't end up cooking it into mush.
The moral of the story is that every cut brings something unique to the table - you just need to find out how to best highlight it!
We're learning as we cook more and more beef. I'd encourage you to do a quick bit of internet research of the best ways to cook a particular cut when you try it for the first time. It's as easy as googling 'best way to cook outside round' or 'boston roast braising recipes'. I
If as you eat your way through a beef order you find yourself with a least favourite cut, then try to find a cooking method that bumps it up...or even makes it a favourite!
Do you have a cut you don't particularly like? Or a recipe/method you've tried that has blown your mind that we can share with the rest of our group? Get in touch!
If you have any questions at all about how you can make the most of your beef, just send us an email. If we have any insight to share we will, and if not maybe we can figure it out together.
Willie & Jorie