A New Steak Cut to be Tried
I have already said it many times: in a relatively new gastronomic sector like that of the barbecue, where few theories are still written on the stone but where everything is still under construction and susceptible to continuous evolution, one of the branch with the widest possible development paradoxically, it is precisely the most traditional one. I’m obviously talking about everything that revolves around the steak culture. This is certainly true for what concerns cooking, where we have witnessed in recent years a constant flourishing of techniques, many of which have been the subject of our posts but it is equally so for the raw material. You might think that “a cow is a cow, what would you like to invent?”. The recent history instead teaches us that even the cutting and processing technique is constantly evolving, not to mention the American approach to the steak, aimed at broadening the experience of cooking on the grill cuts for us until yesterday unthinkable, it is spreading like wildfire, encouraging the search for new solutions. The result is a constant rediscovery of existing cuts redefined to the new purpose such as Teres Mayor or even a real identification of new muscle groups through innovative specific cutting processes, as in the case of the Denver Steak or the Vegas Strip. On the wave of this propensity for novelty I was very impressed when I came across a cut from the curious features of which I had never heard of but that seems to be a bit the new trend in the vein described: the Spider Steak.
The first time I heard the name was from my friend Haymo a few weeks ago during an event in the north east that we had in common. Not even the time to come back and I had already done google smoking, discovering several interesting things. Let’s start from the identification: the Spider Steak is a cut that is located in the inner part of the hip bone, responsible for the pelvic diaphragm movement. Technically it is a continuation of the rump that in the current terminology (at least of the area in which I live) is called “anchetta”. Someone in the United States also calls it “Oyster Steak” because its shape resembles that of an oyster. It is a cut that tends to be rather marbled even on genetically leaner meats, allowing in fact the noticeable availability of a good product, although obviously it does not belong to our culture to use it for that purpose. The name “Spider Steak” is in fact due to a reticular structure of thick filaments of fat that is reminiscent of a spider’s web. In itself it is a long fiber cut, like the diaphragm (skirt steak) but the abundance of fat would help the tenderness in cooking, which combined with an intensity of taste typical of poor cuts, should give an excellent result.
In addition to cuts like Denver Steak or Vegas Strip, resulting from processing in many innovative ways of beef and moreover not always easy to achieve, Spider Steak returns to the origins of the concept of poor cuts, or peripheral processing of the most valuable ones otherwise destinated to be thrown into the meat grinder to give flavor to the mixed ground.
We obviously decide to get one and try it. Before we even start to light the coal up in the chimney, we realize that the Spider Steak, regardless of the result, enjoys a series of differential advantages:
- any butcher should know it and be able to get it without any veterinary anatomy treaty. In our case the above description was enough to hear “Ah yes, it’s the “anchetta”! We usually throw it in the meat grinder …”. Time to go to the cell and pick up a boning knife and we had our Spider Steak in hand.
- It is a cut that tends to be rather marbled even on genetically leaner meats, allowing in fact to obtain a good product on average with great ease, although obviously it does not belong to our culture to use it for that purpose. In our case it was not anything particularly or selected cattle, the first half-carcases hanging in the cell while processing.
- It’s a freaky cheap cut. Nobody knows him. No one even remotely imagines you can make a steak with it. It has not yet become a trendy cut as happened to cuts such as Picanha or Flank Steak. We paid for it … just like grounded meat! Two Spider Steak for a total weight of 450 grams costed us the beauty of 2.26 € …
Let’s start by saying that the shape is exactly as expected and to see it live, I think perhaps the more immediate the concept of “Oyster Steak” that of “Spider Steak”. I was expecting something different from fat instead: it is not a real marbling, meant as filaments of fat interspersed with fibers, it seems more a net of external fat, which reminds me the one is around the kidneys, if you got what I mean. When we start cooking, we decide to go with just a little oil and a veil of simple SPG, to respect as much as possible the intrinsic taste of the cut. We will look for a degree of cooking closer to a Medium-Medium Rare than to a Rare, as I usually do for cuts with the same characteristics.
As soon as you cook it, you realize that Spider Steak respects exactly what you expect from him: after a few seconds the 10 square meters around the kettle are invaded by a crazy, very intense, aromatic scent. If you can see the good day from the morning …. It is a thin cut, more or less like a flank steak and in a few minutes, after a quick flip, I am on the table. I expected the marbleness to help more the tenderness, which is undoubtedly good for being a poor cut, but neither more nor less than that of more celebrated similar cuts. On the other hand, it has helped a lot of cauterization: the cut has maillardized almost immediately, with that beautiful brownish crust that you would expect from a steak of rank, of those that still fry even 10 seconds after you took it off the grill. Finally the taste: I was pleasantly surprised. It is a very balanced taste, very tasty, intense and “lucious” but less “beefy” than one might expect. Which in my case was a good thing, representing the classic limit for cuts such as the diaphragm or some flanks and that I find it hard to make it pass in my home. Certainly the Spider Steak represents a solution in this sense.
The next time you decide to organize a “poor cuts” evening, you will have one more choice at your disposal, probably one of the best, certainly the cheapest. Do you also want to try a Spider Steak?