Everything you need to know about succulent, mouth-watering, blood-swollen cow flesh…

Can’t tell the difference between an entrecote and a fillet? Reckon a T-bone is some sort of dinosaur fossil? Never sure whether you should call the waiter back and make a scene because “it’s all pink and I want it grey the way mum makes it”? Then feast on FHM’s guide to the animal kingdom’s basest man-food…

Forget rump: these are the four best types of steak for your money

1 Fillet
The steak world’s crowning – and most exhorbitantly-priced – cut. It’s a fleshy, virtually fat-free, circular length around two inches deep. The most popular dish sees each slab sliced into approximately two-inch-thick discs and grilled to become fillet steak. Alternately, the cut can be minced raw and bound with an egg to fashion what looks like a bun-free burger named a “steak tartare” (diced onions, gherkins, seasoning etc are then added to this according to taste). Or thinly cleaved across the grain and served raw (usually with a dressing) as a starter – “carpaccio”. Meanwhile tournedos are even teenier round steaks, sectioned from the centre of the original fillet.

 

2 Ribeye
Popular, juicy and expensive, this is the boneless inch-thick version of the rib steak. The greater the marbling (aka veiny white fat) running through it, the sweeter the taste. Grill, stare at the plate in a self-satisfied manner, then serve with fat chips.

 

3 Sirloin
Slim, fleshy, boneless and around an inch thick with soon-to-be-crispy fat running along one side. Called a “Porterhouse” by the Yanks and an “entrecote” by the French, the meat is ideal for speedy cooking.

 

4 T-Bone
This slab of meat with a T-shaped bone in the centre is actually hacked from the cow’s spinal column. Yep, you’re dining on the muscles that supported the cow’s back. And, in the case of mad cow disease, it’s believed this is the cartilage potentially containing infectious protein that drills life-ending holes in an old cow’s brain, before rendering its human diners unable to think, speak, walk. Or live. Still, not to worry. The European Commission is so neurotic about BSE-related deaths it’s enforced stringent tests, with the epidemic now in rapid decline. So just add chips. And call 999 the moment you get a pins-and-needles sensation down one side of your face.

 

Summarising which chunks of livestock end up on your plate…

Chuck and blade
What recipes often refer to as “braising steak”. Best slow-cooked in curries, goulash, stews or bourguignon.

Middle ribs:
De-boned and rolled for pot-roasting or sliced and diced for casseroles.

Top rump, silverside and topside
Plump cuts used for roasting. The fat gets wrapped around rolled muscle then tied with string to keep the meat moist while cooking. Silverside is also used to make corned beef.

Oxtail
A tough off-cut on the bone. Don’t be put off by the gristly appearance. A combination of fat, marrow and cartilage generates a distinctive flavour that’s used in soups and stews.

Neck
Often ground for slow cooking in recipes such as Bolognese, meatballs, cottage pie, chilli con carne and beef burgers. Tip: When making burgers, ask your butcher to leave 10% of the fat on when mincing as it adds to the taste. Then use one egg to bind every 500g of beef patties and add onion, garlic, red pepper and seasoning for flavour.

Brisket
Belly meat that’s also quite fatty. Pot-roasting with root vegetables brings out the flavour. Slow-cooked dishes are richly flavoured as the liquid reduces gradually, concentrating its taste.

Short ribs
Tasty braised in real ale with loads of herbs and root veg.

Shin
Inexpensive, flavoursome and lean. Good for stews.

Skirt
Slow cooked to specifically go into steak and kidney pies or Cornish pasties.

When beef goes bad: nasty truths about Daisy’s ‘other bits’

1 Surplus fat is super-heated then used in the manufacture of car tyres

2 Their small intestine is used in the production of some tennis racquet strings

3 Beef gall bladder can be found in some paint

4 Hard bovine blubber is processed to make tabletop candles

5 Edible beef fats are present in toothpaste and chewing gum

6 Gelatin is derived from cow hide and bone material – and then used as a gelling agent in sweets, cheesecake and moulded ice creams on sticks

7 Extract of udder often makes its way into pet food

8 Hoof derivatives show up in foam fire extinguishers

Where to procure Britain’s most desirable flesh…

John Miles Butchers
21 The Homend, Ledbury, Herefordshire;
01531 632 744; johnmiles.co.uk

The Real Meat Company
Shops nationwide;
0845 7626017; realmeat.co.uk

Helen Browning at Eastbrook Farm
Cues Lane, Bishopstone, Swindon, Wiltshire;
01793 790 460; helenbrowningorganics.co.uk

Graig Farm Organics
Dolau, Llandrindod Wells, Powys, Wales;
01597 851 655; graigfarm.co.uk

The Butts Farm Shop
South Cerney, Cirencester, Gloucestershire;
01285 862 224; thebuttsfarmshop.com

Pedigree Meats of Herefordshire
Huntsham Court Farm, Goodrich, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire;
01600 890 296; pedigreemeats.co.uk