There are cuts that are right next to one another, but no one is aware of them. This is precisely the case with the rump fillet. It is a part of the whole cut which is sold as beef rump – differentiation between the cuts is rarely seen. If you look at this cut more closely you would notice that there are differences in the level of quality within the rump, which you could certainly make use of as a clever consumer. So let’s focus a bit more on the beef rump and its culinary potential – it is certainly worthwhile.
Rump – an underestimated piece of meat
First of all let’s take a look at what you can buy from the butcher as “rump” meat. The piece is in the haunch of the cow and lies next to the cut used for roast beef at the front and top sirloin at the back and the flank is just beneath it. If you look at the outline of a cow you can see that the rump is very close to the area which creates the rump steak. On the other hand that’s why the rump steak is so tender, as the back muscle, where it comes from moves so little – so the rump also benefits from this characteristic. As a whole it has a similar delicately fibrous structure to rump steak or ribeye. A distinct difference is the fat content: in contrast to the sophisticated steaks from the back there is hardly any marbling in the rump. So this is a very tender but also a very lean cut.
What is the rump fillet?
If you buy the rump as a whole in a shop then a trustworthy meat seller will in all probability give you an approximately two kilogram piece of meat, which – although it may not be visible to you – consists of two parts. One part is the heart of the rump (also known as the “thick rump”) and the other part is the rump fillet (thin rump). The rump fillet is a small part, which makes up approximately a third of the whole rump, and is visibly separated by a small tendon. Why is this muscle called “rump fillet”? When you look at the muscle it looks like the fillet from the back, the medallions look like “real” fillet steaks. They aren’t worlds apart in terms of taste or texture either.
Why is it important to isolate the rump fillet?
First of all the structure of the rump fillet is always a noticeably more tender piece than the heart of the rump. For this reason alone it is worth explicitly asking to have the rump fillet provided separately. This information is also important in terms of cutting steaks from a whole rump too. Muscle fibres always follow one direction. Regardless of whether the fibres are thick or thin, strong or weak – they ensure that a steak has bite. The longer the fibres run through the meat the more tension and stability they create. This characteristic of the fibres can, however, be exploited if you cut steaks from one muscle or cut the steak into slices after frying it. This is exactly what is meant when people talk about cutting “across the grain” or “against the direction of the fibres”. And now back to the rump: both muscles of the rump contain fibres and the direction of these fibres is very clearly visible. Therefore it is clear that the direction of the fibres in the rump heart is different to that in the rump fillet.
Cutting rump steaks the right way
If we just cut across the whole of the rump area we would only get the perfect cutting angle in one of the two areas. The angle wouldn’t be ideal in the other area. In practical terms, this means that if you cut steaks from the entire piece in one cut, you are wasting tenderness. There is also a tendon between the rump fillet and the rump heart which you can simply remove when you split the two parts. This is how you avoid tough areas in the steak. When you take the two apart both the rump fillet and the rump heart can be perfectly cut across the grain to be portioned out into steaks. Another reason to separate the rump fillet is the fact that the muscle structure in this cut is even more delicate than it is in the heart section. So if you want to prepare perfect rump steaks you should always ask the butcher for rump fillet. This is also a good test to see how well your butcher knows his subject area.
How do you prepare a rump fillet?
The rump fillet can be prepared like a classic steak such as the rump steak, entrecote or fillet – its structure is so tender and delicate that theoretically you could even eat it raw. Ideally you would fry the rump steak fillet in medallions on both sides on a very high heat and then put it on an indirect heat until it has reached the desired core temperature. This is approximately 56 degrees for a medium cooked steak. Alternatively an exquisite carpaccio or even a steak tartare could be prepared from a rump steak as is the case for the whole of the rump. Thanks to its extremely tender structure without tendons nothing stands in the way of unadulterated pleasure. There is just one thing that you shouldn’t do with the rump: stewing. It simply has too little connective tissue and collagen to absorb water during a long cooking process. The rump is and remains a classic steak to be cooked on the grill and in a pan.