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My problem with 'braising steak'

  • b

Hi guys.

I don't know about other countries, but most meat billed as 'braising steak' available in the UK is lean, free of tough sinew and lacking in gelatine. That is to say, lacking the qualities needed for slow cooking and therefore TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE FOR BRAISING.

The only beef cuts that are good for slow cooking are shin, cheek, oxtail, SOME parts of the rib and MAYBE the fattier parts of chuck.

Silverside (may be called something else in the US) is always billed as being good for braising but it is quite clearly terrible for it.

Anyone agree?

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    1. Nope. I find British braising steak perfectly fine for braising. It usually has good marbling as well as a layer of fat - just what you need for long cooking. If you're not finding that with the meat from your current butcher, suggest you change butchers.

      When you've got a better source, you might like to try this recipe which is a riff on "steak au poivre" - http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/cu...

      7 Replies
      1. re: Harters

        That recipe sounds delicious. I love steak au poivre and its just not seen very much here any more.

        1. re: twyst

          I'm of the Delia age - she was retro when it wasnt retro :-)

          1. re: Harters

            Oh, I'm so glad I tripped over this thread. On this side of the pond we don't have such a thing as "braising steak" - that is, there's nothing called that, but of course we're offered plenty of beef that will qualify. My mom made a "Swiss steak" that was much more like Delia's recipe than the usual American version: no tomato anywhere, but flour and dry mustard pounded in, the meat browned in fat with some onion and then simmered slowly under cover - she used just water, but it made a delicious gravy. I believe round steak was the default "steak" in our very humble hovel, though chuck (from the shoulder) would probably be my choice, as today's round is much too lean.

            Thank you for introducing me to Delia, Harters. If that photo is at all recent, I and my childhood memories are considerably older than she is, but her tastes are very much the same!

            1. re: Will Owen

              The exact cut is called a 7 bone here I think, but any part of the chuck should work! Im trying this recipe soon.

              1. re: Will Owen

                Will

                I've said it before on threads but it'll stand saying again.........it is impossible to overestimate the contribution of Delia Smith to British home cooking in the last 30+ years. Of course, she's now been "overtaken" by the cult of the celebrity chef but hers are still the books many folk return to time after time.

                1. re: Harters

                  Like "Mapie" in France? Whose book I have, along with "La Cuisine Gran'mere" by an admirer of hers. Okay, I need some Delia. Recommendations? Any more fundamental than the rest? La Cuisine Bourgeois, American Midwestern style, was my culinary foundation, and I'm constantly delighted to see how the equivalents in other cultures differ and don't.

                  1. re: Will Owen

                    Will

                    Her "Complete Cookery Course" would be the absolute choice. It's the one that really made her name. It was republished a few years back with some updates and the occasional new recipe but I'd suggest you look out for the original "Classic Edition" - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Delias-Comple...

        2. 7 bone chuck is a fine cut for braising, which is what you are talking about (at least translated for us Yanks) .

          You are overlooking brisket, which is also a great cut to braise, and short ribs as well

          6 Replies
          1. re: Brandon Nelson

            Of course! I have no idea how I forgot brisket, it's one of my favourite cuts.

            Obviously noone in the UK can relate to my point though, which is meat labelled as 'braising steak' ALWAYS seems to be devoid of any of the characteristics suitable for braising.

            I did oxtail the other day. Holy smoke, if you braise this for long enough it really is the king of flavour. Damn hard to eat though!

            1. re: BenL1

              Erm, I did relate to your point, back on 23/10/12. I just didnt agree with you.

              1. re: Harters

                Relating to my point means agreeing with it

                1. re: BenL1

                  I didnt know that.

                  Thought it meant understanding, or similar. Tricky, this English language thing.

                  1. re: Harters

                    You can't relate to my point because you don't agree with it. You can still understand my point without being able to relate to it. It's not difficult to understand

                    1. re: BenL1

                      Yes, thanks for the re-iteration of the explanation, although I had understood your earlier post.

                      As I said, I hadnt appreciated that "relate" meant "agree". Apologies for the apparent misunderstanding of the meaning - my knowledge of the nuances of good English seems more lacking than I'd have hoped for.

          2. I use 'shoulder chuck' in beef bourguignon. Not too fatty, lots of connective tissue, great flavor, great texture. There's two shoulder cut ends. Choose the one with the most fatty look. You probably won't get to see the difference unless you can find a traditional butcher shop.

            1. On my side of the pond, we use chuck, blade or round.
              Braising isn't really a term we use in Australia, but it means stew or slow cooked, right?

              If you are making something that is in the ballpark of a stew or casserole etc, I always start with a very good homemade stock, and get that right before slow cooking my meat in the sauce.

              6 Replies
              1. re: cronker

                In the British sense, slow-cooked certainly. But usually only with a little liquid, not as wet as a stew.

                I gave a posher recipe upthread in 2012 but this one is pretty much how we'd generally cook braising steak - http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/bra...

                1. re: Harters

                  See the problem is they have to refer to it as 'braising steak'. Why do they not just specify which cut to use?? I mean if it's specified at the grocer there wouldn't be any ambiguity as to which cut of the animal this is. People can say 'Oh that's silverside and DOESN'T BRAISE, I'll stay away!'

                  Here is an example of what I mean. The recipe below seems to think that slow cooking silverside is a good idea. Just looking at the picture shows you that it isn't and the piece of meat is always going to be a carbonised hunk of leather.

                  http://realfood.tesco.com/recipes/slo...

                  1. re: BenL1

                    Well, I suppose we have different expectations from our meat. For example, silverside is always sold in the UK for slow cooking - a braise or pot roast, for instance. The Tesco recipe that you link to is pretty much exactly what I'd do with a joint of silverside or top rump.

                    1. re: Harters

                      Maybe you're right, maybe I'm doing it all wrong. I might buy a piece of silverside and cook it in an entire block like that Tesco recipe low and slow for four hours. Somehow I doubt it's going to work, for the simple reason that silverside is lean and collagen-free making it unsuitable for such a cooking method. You can tell just by looking at the fibres of the meat in that picture that cutting into this joint is going to be a disaster. They probably didn't even feed it to the production staff. I hope at least they gave it to some local animals though.
                      But if anyone here knows something else about the science of meat constitution and slow cooking I am open to learning :) Maybe silverside has a special constitution that means it it magical and doesn't need fat or gelatine to make it tender after slow cooking :)

                      1. re: BenL1

                        I don't think of these things as "right or wrong". I'm only suggesting that (a) back in 2012, I said that I find that meat sold as "braising steak" is fine for braising and that (b) in 2014, we agree that silverside is generally sold and purchased for long slow cooking. I'm happy to accept your implications that the meat industry is selling the British consumer entirely the wrong products.