About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Monday, September 18, 2006
On Budget
When I was growing up, a steak dinner didn't mean the same for me as it does today. Back then, I'm talking nearly forty years now, a steak was a piece of oyster blade. We kids had never even heard of porterhouse or sirloin - nary a rump steak in sight, or heaven forbid, a juicy eye fillet. We didn't feel we were missing out on anything though, because a nice piece of oyster blade is a good steak.

But then we grew up, started dining out and discovered all the 'better' cuts of steak and the poor oyster blade was largely forgotten except for the occasional braise where the structure of this meat comes into play, with its thick gelatin seam that slowly melts, keeping the meat juicy. But the thing no-one realized was that oyster blade comes from the shoulder of the cow and that all the prime steaks are connected to this section, all the way along the back, right down to the rump, so the flavour is most certainly there, in fact oyster blade probably has a beefier flavour perhaps due to being a working muscle. But being a part of the shoulder means it has a higher proportion of connective tissue, with a thick seam running right through the centre. This seam of connective tissue is a double edged sword. On one hand it makes this cut a little chewier, but by no means tough, but on the other hand also has the advantage of melting into the meat on cooking, keeping things moist.

Last Friday I was at the butchers thinking about a roast for the weekend and really felt like a nice beef roast, so I enquired as to what they had. They showed me a small oyster blade roast of some 800 g (1.5 lb) and a larger one a kilo heavier (2 lb). The smaller one suited better so home it came. When I unwrapped it and looked at it again, I don't know, it must of shrunk or something, it just didn't look big enough for roasting, but what came to mind was the French way of dealing with the lesser cuts and that is slicing them into thin steaks across the grain and grilling them very quickly on fierce heat to about medium done. Cutting the steak this way ensures the greatest tenderness as the meat fibres are all short, and cooking to medium helps the connective tissue to start melting down.

If you can get the feather end, it looks wonderful cut this way, as the connective tissue produces a feather like pattern, but this is not what I had; no matter, it doesn't affect the taste or tenderness. I sliced the meat into steaks no more than 1 cm (1/2") thick, heated the grill pan to smoking hot, seasoned and oiled the steaks then slapped them on the grill. As soon as they were charred enough and before the smoke alarm went off, they were onto a plate, topped with some compound butter flavoured with garlic, anchovies and parsley, otherwise, if you were in a cooking mood, to my mind there would be nothing better than this. With a well made budget wine from a good region, it would be easy to imagine you were in a country cafe somewhere in rural France. Without paying the airfare and with the meat costing less than half the premium cuts.
  posted at 8:25 am


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