Some of us either prefer alternative cuts of meat or don't have the money to splash out on prime cuts. Bavette steak is one of those, and when cooked properly, rivals even the finest of prime cuts.
What is it?
Bavette steaks are cut from the flank which is part of the abdominal muscles of the steer.
The term bavette is used by French butchers and translates to "bib". In Brazil, it's known as fraldinha. Meaning, little diaper. Why they use baby terminology, I don't know but, it is what it is.
And that is a very flavourful but fibrous steak that needs a little love and attention for it to be super delicious and tender.
Cooking and slicing it properly is key to this recipe.
- Bavette steak - Buy the best you can afford. Grain-fed beef is more marbled than grass-fed and will be juicier and more tender.
- Seasoning - Natural salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
- Oil for frying - You can use lard or beef dripping too. Otherwise just a neutral smelling oil like canola or sunflower.
- BBQ sauce(optional) - My barbecue sauce recipe. It's the only bbq sauce you will ever want after you tried it. That's my honest opinion and would have been the same, had some other dude come up with it first. But, they didn't.
How to make it
Cooking the perfect bavette steak is all about the right searing, knowing what temperature to cook it to, and then how long to rest it for. Your bavette will be just as delicious with or without bbq sauce but it does add a ton of umami and the flavour is out of this world.
- Heat a cast-iron skillet, or, if you are doing this on the barbecue then get either of those ripping hot. (600C(1120F) or above)
- Make sure your bavette steak is not fridge-cold, around 15C is good and patted dry with a paper towel. Moisture and ice-cold steak is the enemy of the perfect sear and doneness.
- Rub the steak with oil and season the side you are going to sear first. Only with salt. Pepper burns so we will add that later. Wack it into the hot pan a or onto the grill if you're doing it on fire.
- Move the steak around just a tad in the pan to make sure there are no moisture spots and the caramelisation happens evenly and everywhere. This should take about 2 minutes.
- Once that's done, flip it, seasoning the unseasoned part and repeat the little moving about business until you got good caramelisation. Depending on the thickness of your steak sear the sides too and make sure you are doing this in a ripping hot pan. Cold pans or coals won't get the caramelisation going and you will just end up boiling the steak. Tears will follow and in extreme situations, you might even blame me. So let's avoid all that and do it right.
- Measure the internal temperature of the steak as you cook it and make sure that it does not exceed 45C(113F). I only go to 42C(107F) but there are a few degrees room for error.
- Once you hit that temperature. Remove the bavette from the heat and let it rest on a wire rack or a plate flipping every 30 seconds to make sure it rests evenly too. The internal temperature will still rise by about 5 degrees and settle during this period. That's what we want.
- If you are making a virgin steak without the bbq sauce then you are ready to slice thinly against the grain, season with a bit more salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
- Otherwise, get the pan back on the stove or get your grill brush ready. Because it's barbecue sauce time! Put 2 tablespoons of barbecue sauce in the pan and bring it to a simmer. Add the steaks back into the pan with the sauce and make sure it's all covered with sauce. Take the pan off the heat, remove your steak and slice thinly against the grain. Season as mentioned in step 8. If you are doing this on the barbecue then brush the steak with bbq sauce and carefully and quickly grill it on al sides for about a minute, and you're done.
Bavette heaven is waiting just for you.
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Bavette steak or any other steak for that matter can be cooked and served in various delicious ways. Each with their uniqueness.
You can change the cooking method or sauce in the following ways. Feel free to mix and match.
- Broiling - Like under a grill, over open coals or under a gas burner. Intense high heat that gets you the perfect sear on your steak.
- Stone grilling - This is one for the fanatics. Heat a large flat stone on fire until it is extremely hot, like turning into glass hot. Sear as you would in a pan but flip often to avoid burning.
- Plancher - For those of you that like making stuff hard to clean dirty. And also those of you with fancy enough kitchens. Works the same as a pan but you can fry your egg right next to it and also do teppanyaki tricks for your friends.
- Reverse sear(oven method) - Set your oven to 60C. Wrap the steak tightly in aluminium foil and put into the oven. Once the inside temperature of the steak reaches 42C, take it out and quickly sear it in a ripping hot pan. (Like 600C(1120F) hot)
- Sous vide and sear - Set a water bath to 42C. Vac pac your steaks with a bit of neutral oil. Drop into the water bath and let it cook for about 30 minutes. Fish it out, open the bag and pat dry the steak. Do the whole ripping hot pan and quick sear business.
- Poor man's sous vide and sear - If you're poor like me you sous vide your steak in the packing it came in and use your kitchen sink as a water bath. Actually one of the first recipes I did on this blog so go check it out. Kitchen sink steak. You basically fill your sink with hot water and control the temperature with your temperature probe if you have one. For this steak, it should be 42C(107F). If you don't have a temperature probe then wing it and keep the sink filled with water that you would be happy to take a bath in. Leave it there for 30 minutes or so and do the searing thing explained already a few times.
- Dirty sear - For the hardcore. Get your barbecue coals super hot and make sure there is no dead ash. Spread them out a bit and sear you steak directly on those coals. Yes, crazy but it's a thing, and trust me it's great if you do it right. Turn often and once caramelised move it onto the grill above the coals to reach 42C(107F) before resting, slicing thin against the grain and finally giving it a nice seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Chimichurri - An obvious choice for ribeye but amazing with alternative cuts like bavette.
- Gremolata - Similar to chimichurri but use only parsley, garlic, lemon and olive oil. Blend it all up till it resembles a green herby sauce.
- Salsa verde - Another green beast but this time with some, mustard, anchovies, mint, basil and parsley.
- Romesco - Made by roasting peppers and then blending with garlic and toasted almonds.
- Den Miso - Popular Japanese bbq glaze often used on miso baked eggplant.
- Tapenade - Made with black olives, anchovies, olive oil and capers originally. Mine leaves out the capers.
- Mushroom garlic butter - Classic compound butter that really makes the flavour of steak howl like a wolf.
Once you have your steak sorted you probably need a fitting side dish. These are some of my favourites:
- Silky smooth mashed potatoes
- Steakhouse style creamed spinach
- Classic Caesar salad
- Authentic Greek salad
- Moroccan zaalouk
Other recipes you might like
If you like good quality meat or the umami flavours that come with properly roasting food then you will find the following recipes useful.
- Fire-roasted pork belly
- Perfectly cooked ribeye steak
- Mom's roasted leg of lamb
- Thai spiced beef koftas
- Whole roasted cauliflower with adjika
- Grilled Middle Eastern style lamb chops
Useful equipment for this recipe
Japanese knife - Buy Now
Cast iron skillet - Buy Now
Wooden chopping board - Buy Now
Temperature probe - Buy Now
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