Saturday, 17 January 2009

Paleron – Feather Steak

Cut thin and flash fried, feather steak makes a very tasty and economical meal. It is a cut of beef you can always get in France, but hardly ever see in the UK.

It's from the less well regarded front end of the beast, and if cut thicker and used as a stewing steak, it is known as blade (as in shoulder blade, which is more or less where it comes from on the animal).

These pieces cost me €2.18 for 256g of meat at one of the large supermarket chains. What's more, the label informed me that the beast the meat came from was born and raised in France, killed and butchered in France (with a reference number so that I can check exactly where and by whom should I feel the need). Perhaps most interesting of all, the label told me that this meat came from a cow (vache), as opposed to a steer, and she was not a beef breed, but a dairy cow (laitier).

It may seem odd to clearly label meat as not from a breed specifically developed for meat production, but take a look at the type of hefty heifer that these steaks probably came from, and you will understand that we are not talking about the sort of gaunt mobile bags of milk that modern intensive dairy farming demands. Strictly speaking, these Normandes are a dual purpose breed.

Feather steak has a most off-putting looking piece of gristle running down the middle, but if the meat is cooked extremely quickly and not allowed to cool before being eaten, the central gristle does not toughen but is more like firm jelly. You do need to check that all the gristle around the edges is trimmed off though, as that is like leather.

Pat the steak dry, smear with oil, season generously with Ducros 5 Baies pepper blend and a little salt then sizzle for no more than a minute a side on a dry cast iron pan that has been heated until it is smoking. Pull off the heat and stir a little crème fraîche into the pan juices. Serve immediately with fried potatoes of some sort.



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  1. It's a beef day -- I posted about beef too. I think this cut you call "feather steak" is called "flat iron steak" in California. Wikipedia calls them "top blade" or "patio" steaks.

  2. Ken: It's that zeitgeist thing I was talking about the other day :-)

  3. Oddly enough, I'm sure I saw something labelled as "feather steak" in Waitrose this morning. You must be sending out psychic waves, Susan.

  4. And I had Bavette de boeuf tonight for supper :-)

  5. I'm going to be scrutinising steaks at the supermarket far more closely from now on! I do wonder how much tha extra admin adds on the cost of the actual food though. Interesting info, thanks for the pointers. Ref flash frying to limit chewiness, I usually give my cheaper steaks a good hammering with a rolling pin (the only use it ever gets) to make up for my culinary shortcomings...

  6. Peter: so far as I know, only beef is required to have this level of detail regarding origin, to reassure the punters that they are not going to contract BSE by eating it. On other meat products 'élevée en France' is because the French consumer feels the 'homegrown' product is superior.

    The gristle in feather probably doesn't benefit much by bashing. It seems to be different from the gristle around the edge, and is much better behaved.

  7. I think the "gristle" you are referring to is actually the's feathery appearance is what gives the steak it's name, and it won't harden up in the same way as real gristle. It can be removed.

  8. Little Teddy: Blimey, it's a fairly substantial nerve then! I don't know enough about bovine anatomy to be sure what type of tissue forms the line through the centre of feather steak.

  9. I do though...:-)
    The cut: It sits on the side of the shoulder blade and when sliced looks like a feather with the nerve like the quill. Cut like this it is good for casseroles. However, if the nerve is removed it gives two flat muscles that are very lean with a good flavour and firm texture. These are also good for daubes and casseroles but also for flash frying. Excellent value for money.