Terry Durack's steak and tips

Terry Durack
Dry-aged: A standing rib roast.
Dry-aged: A standing rib roast. Photo: Jennifer Soo

Five ways to score a great steak for less

1. Choose the cheapest steak at an expensive restaurant, rather than the most expensive steak at a cheap restaurant. Great restaurants buy only great meat, and your cheapie is subsidised by the more expensive offerings.

2. Share a larger steak between the two of you, in the manner of the French l'entrecote, and share a substantial salad or vegetable dish as well.

3. Invest in a name. Certain beef suppliers, such as Cape Grim, David Blackmore, Rangers Valley, Gundooee Organics, Coorong and O'Connor Premium, have a record for excellent beef at all levels.

4. Explore the so-called secondary cuts, such as bavette, onglet and skirt. A good chef and a good grill can turn them into better-than-premium experiences.

5. Use well-sharpened steak knives. They really make a difference to both perception and reality.

Excellence in beef: David Blackmore.
Excellence in beef: David Blackmore. Photo: James Geer

How to speak beef

A glossary of terms, hot off the grill.

Dry-aged: Dry-aged meat is hung on the bone to break down the fibres, evaporate moisture and concentrate flavour; a more expensive process for the providore, as the meat can lose as much as 20 per cent of its weight.

Entrecote: The French term for scotch fillet or rib-eye off the bone (rib-eye on the bone is referred to as cote de boeuf).

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Eye fillet/tenderloin: The smallest, most expensive and tender cut of meat taken from the short loin. It's really more about tenderness than depth of flavour.

Flank: Taken from the belly, close to the hind legs. Very lean meat that benefits from a marinade to make it tender.

Grain-fed: For an animal to be classed as grain-fed it must have been finished in an accredited feedlot for a required number of days ranging from minimum of 70 days through to 300-plus days. Grain-fed beef is more consistent in quality and generally more tender, although all animals are started on grass or pastures.

Grass-fed: A grass-fed or pasture-fed beast has spent its life grazing on pastures and natural grasses. Typically, grass-fed steak has more resilience and character than grain-fed.

Hanger/onglet: This tender cut 'hangs' within the diaphragm, attaching itself to the last rib and the spine near the kidneys, giving it a rich, gamey flavour.

Marble score: Running from 1 to 9+, the marble score is used to grade the intramuscular fat content, particularly significant in wagyu beef. The higher the score, the higher the fat content - and the higher the price.

Minute steak: A small thinly-cut piece of steak (often a flattened-out end piece of tenderloin) that can be cooked quickly.

Oyster blade/flat iron: A tender piece of meat cut from the shoulder of the beast.

Porterhouse: The American term for T-bone, although often incorrectly used in Australia to describe a sirloin steak.

Rib-eye: Taken from the fore-rib section, this juicy, tender steak has enough fat to give it real flavour. Served on the bone, it's about as good as steak gets.

Rump: Taken from the back leg, a good value steak with a good chew and great flavour.

Scotch fillet: A boneless rib-eye; the best bet for cooking at home.

Sirloin: From the rear back portion of the animal between the scotch fillet and rump.

Skirt: There are four types - inside, thick (hanger), thin, and skirt steak (flank) - from different parts of the carcass. Fibrous, with a bit of a chew, but great flavour.

T-Bone: A bone-in steak combining the eye fillet and the sirloin, making it very tender yet with good flavour.

Wagyu: Full-blood wagyu comes from 100 per cent pure Japanese black wagyu and is renowned for its extreme marbling and tender, full-flavoured meat. Cross-breeding produces a range of wagyu classifications.

Wet-aged: Wet-aged beef is beef that has typically been aged in a vacuum-sealed bag. This retains its moisture, keeping weight loss to a minimum. The natural enzymes break down and tenderise the fibres of meat, but the natural juices are purged or lost.

Yearling: Yearling beef, which makes up most of the beef sold in local supermarkets and butchers, can actually be from cattle up to 30 months of age, as long as they don't have any permanent incisor teeth.

The world's most underrated steak?

Rump, apparently. ''It's a poor man's choice, but then, peasants tend to eat the best bits,'' says chef Rob Marchetti. Sydney steakmeister Neil Perry agrees that rump is underrated. ''It has wonderful flavour, although it can freak people out that they actually have to use their teeth.''

* From the archive: How to cook the perfect steak