Fillet on the grill is always a safe bet. Lean, not too intense and guaranteed to be tender, even if you slightly miss the point when it is cooked to perfection. However, as a result of the boom in barbecues over the last few years many other cuts have forced their way onto the grill as alternatives and more and more barbecue fans claim: numerous cuts have far more exciting flavours than the classic beef fillet! So, it is high time to finally move away from the well-trodden paths of barbecuing and give new cuts a chance on the barbecue. We will show you four hot candidates, which could become your new favourite cuts on your domestic gas barbecue.
Onglet: Intense and earthy
The onglet is almost the opposite of a fillet in every respect. It has a hearty bite to it, a coarse fibre structure and gives you a very particular feeling in your mouth. This has got nothing to do with it being tough, rather it quite simply opens up a new dimension in terms of the structure of the bite. What’s even more important: The cut from the belly area of the cow stands apart from every other kind of steak when it comes to flavour intensity. This is because of the location of the muscles proximity to the innards (offal) – so the iron content in onglet is especially high. This means that the taste is a little reminiscent of liver and is incredibly powerful. The onglet, also referred to as a butcher’s steak, or hanging tenderloin is a steak for anyone who has had enough of the conservative nature of a fillet and wants to try out more flavoursome cuts on the barbecue. A steak for daring meat-eaters, who want to know what meat can really taste like.
Flat iron steak: marbling and tenderness in harmony
“I would eat that over any fillet” – this is a phrase that is regularly heard about flat iron steak. It is the shooting star of the “new” steak cuts and it deserves this honour. It is as tender as a fillet, but significantly more marbled and costs half as much as a fillet at most. You can’t provide many better arguments for choosing a cut really. The flat iron comes from the tip of the chuck and for decades the idea of it being used as a steak cut has been scorned as the middle part of the beef chuck has tough tendons running through it. For this reason this beef cut has been known as a classic stewing cut, so that the tendons that are too tough to chew through are stewed in a long cooking process to make them edible. However, ingenious butchers noticed around the turn of the millennium that these tendons can very simply be removed – the flat iron steak was born and has been delighting meat fans worldwide ever since. The intense marbling at the top of the shoulder blade in combination with the delicate fibres creates an intense flavour in the mouth, which is reminiscent of a fillet, but provides significantly more juiciness than an expensive steak beef cut from the back of a cow.
The flank steak was one of the first steaks to make the leap across the Atlantic to Europe. It has always been one of the most popular cuts for tacos in the USA. In Germany grill fans have discovered the steak qualities of the flat cut from the front part of the abdominal wall of the cow. The flank steak belongs to the “earthy, powerful, juicy” category. It is definitely not the tenderest beef steak, however it is one that has a lot of flavour and – especially when it comes to breeds like Angus or Wagyu – provides a lot of marbling. Due to its special characteristics it requires very precise preparation: It is so flat that the best thing to do first is to bring it to room temperature and then grill it at a medium, direct heat on each side for 3-4 minutes – there is no need for any subsequent cooking time due to the flat shape of the steak. Finally the flank steak is cut into slices, cutting against the direction of the clearly visible fibres. This method of cutting breaks the strong tension of the cut and makes it into one of the most exciting culinary discoveries in beef in the last few years.
Heart on the grill? An extremely good idea! The heart is one of the leanest muscles in the whole cow and also the muscle that probably moves the most. A lot of movement always means a lot of flavour, but most of all it also means a tough structure. With heart it is different – the structure of the fibres is so delicate that a steak can easily be medium cooked from the heart. Important: The heart needs to have all of the vessels and fat removed first, but this can be done by any good butcher on request. A well-prepared heart is probably the most affordable steaks of all the cuts of beef and has an intense mineral flavour and a pleasant tender bite. Tip: Glaze the heart with teriyaki sauce and caramelise lightly on the grill.
The neck steak still suffers from the bad reputation of its equivalent in pork. Colourfully marinated pork neck steaks are still a part of the standard fare on the meat counter. Due to their often suspiciously low prices these steaks tend to be more notorious than popular. Having said that, pork neck, as is the case with beef neck, has an enormous amount of potential when it comes to flavour and indulgence, so long as you are prepared to accept a fair portion of fat on the meat. The neck is the extension of the back and is located right next to the entrecôte. The first neck steaks beyond the back have almost identical qualities to the significantly more expensive entrecôte: a delicate fibre, a higher level of marbling and therefore ideal conditions for frying and grilling. The further the neck moves forward towards the head the more movement it has to withstand, which is reflected in the meat as the higher part of the connective tissue (chewier structure). Insider tip: just ask for a neck steak when you go to the butcher that was as close as possible to the back – this will save you a lot of money and will guarantee the most enjoyment possible from a severely underestimated cut of beef.