Our diet is changing – and so is meat consumption. Until recently, tenderloin was considered the most noble piece of meat in our eating culture. Today, however, unknown cuts of meat, homemade sausages or more elaborate ways of preparing meat are arousing consumers’ curiosity. The niche of connoisseurs who like to experiment is growing. The time is ripe for special cuts, the enjoyable alternative to rib steaks and the like.
There are different ways of cutting up a slaughtered animal, and butchers proceed differently in every country. In addition to the traditional standard cuts (prime cuts), the hitherto “unknown cuts” (special cuts) are also increasingly used in our country, resulting in the most delicious alternatives to the scarce, so-called prime cuts. Rare cuts, which in beef are mainly cut from the belly, breast and shoulder as steaks, are particularly suitable for short roasting. Special cuts embody a multifaceted culinary art and optimal added value of animal products. When you consider that the prime cuts of beef only account for a few per cent, it also makes sense ecologically and out of respect for the animal to use special cuts.
With the right know-how, you can turn special cuts into the finest grilled pieces. (Photo: Proviande)
Special cuts – Meat at its best
In the meat industry and in gastronomy, one can already observe the beginning of a kind of renaissance of these forgotten and supposedly new cuts. However, what is called a special cut today was common practice in the past. While the “onglet”, for example, is still a fairly well-known and popular cut in French-speaking Switzerland, it was long overlooked in the German-speaking part of the country. For some three years now, however, demand for the various “new old” pieces has been rising steadily.
Special cuts come from muscles that are subjected to greater stress than, for example, tenderloin. The higher stress results in thicker muscle fibre packages, which give the meat a coarse-grained structure and more texture. In addition, some of the muscles contain more connective tissue (collagen). As a result, special cuts are less tender than prime cuts at first bite.
How to turn special cuts into the finest delicacies
The best special cuts come from medium to full-fleshed cattle, steers and munis (breeding bulls) with an even, pronounced fat cover. And because older animals generally provide more tasty meat, selected cows also come into question – beef can definitely have a bite.
In the past, special cuts were often braised. But with the right know-how, these braised cuts can be turned into the finest grilled pieces. A wide variety of methods are suitable for preparing special cuts. Whether modern or classic, there are many paths to grilling success!
Of course, the preparation also depends on the piece of meat. Hanging Tender, for example, is demanding because it is somewhat thicker than a “normal” steak, which means that grilling is particularly suitable. This also applies to the Outside Skirt. The Flat Iron is easy to prepare, just like a rib steak, and tastes very similar. But don’t forget to take all cuts out of the refrigerator about an hour before use.
In the end, however, it is not only the right preparation method that leads to culinary success, because the best meat quality starts with optimal animal husbandry.
Sources: This article and the photos were provided by Proviande. The article first appeared in «die Mutterkuh» 3/18.