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The perfect steak: A guide to old favourites and new beef cuts

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Steak and chips is one of the nation's favourite dishes – often set aside for a day of indulgence. But we tend to shy away from cooking steak and are reluctant to try new cuts, often because we just don't know where to start. The array of different cuts and their various suitabilities for different dishes can be mind-boggling. And because steak is sometimes not the most purse-friendly option, we don't want to go wrong. Feel free to turn to a good butcher, who will be more than willing to help you out with both preparation and cooking advice.

First of all it is essential that you choose the right cut for the dish you are planning. Beef is divided into four quarters – two forequarters and two hindquarters.

The cuts from the forequarter, such as brisket and shin, can be less tender, as these muscles work the hardest. They often require slower methods of cooking, such as stewing and pot-roasting.

The hindquarter is the back end of the animal, with more tender ‘steak’ cuts, such as sirloin or rib eye, that are suitable for quicker cooking methods such as frying or grilling.

Sirloin is undoubtedly Britain’s favourite steak followed closely by the bigger and firmer rump steak.

Cuts are always evolving and consumers are constantly looking for better value – and butchers are responding to this by introducing new cuts to the UK market. And we are in for a treat. Cuts such as the Picanha, Flat Iron, Hanger and Bistro steaks are breaking into the market. Try them out and snap them up quickly before they become more popular and expensive.

Our tasting notes will remind you of an old favourite or tempt you into trying something new today:

Fillet – The leanest and most tender of all steaks making it the most prized of cuts. Typically 4cm thick, it cooks quickly and there is no waste, which makes it worth considering for a special occasion.

Sirloin – the nation's favourite, sirloin steak has a great flavour. Steaks are cut to about 2cm thick and have a thin layer of fat running along the top of the steak.Rump – Larger and with a firmer texture than sirloin steak, rump steak is often considered to have more flavour.

Rib-eye – Large and slightly rounded steaks cut from the eye of the fore rib. They carry a little more fat than other steaks, but have a wonderful flavour.

PicanhaPopular in Brazil and here at Hello! Online too! It carries just the right amount of fat to add flavour and tenderise the meat.

Flat Iron – Perfect for those who like their steaks rare to medium rare. A chewier texture than most but it scores maximum points for flavour.

Bistro – With its consistent and clean flavour, bistro steak is one of the leanest cuts going, it can have less fat than chicken so it is ideal for the health-conscious steak lover.

Overindulging in red meat is notoriously bad for you but if you enjoy it in moderation it can be a good source of protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, iron and zinc. And do not fear the fat. In its raw form beef typically has just 5% fat. This gives it a really lovely flavour during cooking and is cooked out, leaving the excess behind in the pan.

Grilling is a healthy cooking method and also one of the easiest to control.