Have you ever perused the menu at a steak house and encountered a steak you’ve never heard of? Well, that happened to me recently with a bavette steak, and it had me stumped.
So what is bavette steak?
There are an overwhelming number of different kinds of steak, but today we’re getting to know bavette steaks a little better.
By the end of this article, you will know:
- What a bavette steak is
- Where bavette steaks come from in the animal
- The best way to cook bavette steak
What is Bavette Steak?
Bavette is a type of steak found in the abdominal area of the cow below the sirloin. This is a well-worked muscle of the animal, which affects the texture of the meat and makes it slightly chewy. It is not considered to be a prime cut, but it is a beautiful steak when cooked right. It is known for its intense flavor and pleasantly toothsome texture.
Where Does Bavette Steak Come From?
As you can see from our TLDR, bavette is a specific name for a type of steak found in the abdominal area of the cow behind the plate and in front of the rear quarter. It’s found close to the flank steak.
Bavette is the French term for a sirloin flap and is often referred to as the butcher’s cut because it is a secondary but delicious cut that butchers would often save for themselves.
As with all cuts of meat, the location within the animal is a key element that dictates the texture and flavor of the steak. The bavette’s location within the abdominal area just in front of the rear legs provides the cut with its deep, rich flavor and slightly tough texture because it is a fatty but well-worked area of the animal.
Portioning and Cutting Bavette
The bavette as a whole is a large flat cut. Depending on the cooking method, this sizeable piece is then portioned into individual steaks before or after cooking.
When portioning, you should always cut with the grain but against the grain when eating the steak.
This is because this steak has a very prominent grain structure that becomes very pronounced when cooked. If you cut your meat with the grain for serving, it will be stringy and chewy. However, cutting it thinly against the grain will result in bites that fall apart in your mouth.
Best Way to Cook Bavette Steak
When it comes to most steaks, the only cooking method needed is a quick sear. Larger cuts may also need some oven time, but that is only to make sure the meat is cooked all the way through.
However, bavette steaks are a little more interesting since it’s one of those rare steaks that can be both slow-cooked and pan-fried. The resultant texture will be different, but the steak will be tender and delicious with either method.
This is a special quality in relation to other steaks like ribeye and tough cuts like a shank. If you slow-cook a rib eye, the texture will be very unpleasant, and the flavor won’t come out as strongly as when cooked quickly. On the other hand, if you quickly sear a leg cut, you will barely be able to get through it with your teeth. Bavette is one of those magical cuts that can handle both.
Before using either of these techniques, make sure to trim off all the excess white fat on the surface, as this will just get chewy. (I like to set this fat aside and render it over low heat. Then keep it in the fridge and use it for frying or making beef fat potatoes.)
Here is how to cook bavette steak both ways to achieve the most sumptuous results:
Pan Fried or Grilled
My favorite way to enjoy bavette steak is pan-fried. It’s quick, easy, and really tasty.
Before cooking, I like to either marinade or dry rub the meat a few hours before. This will not only impart a big kick of flavor, but it will also work to tenderize the meat. For a dry rub, I like to use equal parts salt and sugar mixed with a healthy dose of pepper and my favorite herbs.
Then you want to get your grill or frying pan really hot before you start cooking. The aim is to caramelize the outside as quickly as possible and ideally cook the center to rare, 125-130 F. You can cook it medium rare (130-140 F) if you prefer, but I love this cut rare for maximum tenderness.
Fry or grill your bavette steaks over high heat for 2-3 minutes until the outside is browned and the inside is your desired temperature.
As with all steaks, resting the meat is key for the juiciest and most delicious eating experience. After cooking, transfer your steak to a clean plate and allow it to rest uncovered for half the time you cooked it for. This will allow the meat juices to reabsorb and make your steak as delicious as possible.
After resting, cut the steak into thin slices against the grain and dig in!
The more unusual way to cook bavette is slow-cooked. I like using it for stroganoff, stews, and curries, as it adds great flavor and breaks down to a melt-in-your-mouth texture.
To start off, I like to rub the steak in oil, salt, and pepper before slicing it into finger-width slices against the grain. These pieces are then fried over high heat to brown the outside before being set aside.
Depending on the recipe, the bavette is added back into the sauce to cook down the rest of the way at some point during cooking.
How to Buy Bavette Steak
Ok, now that you are thoroughly enticed by this delicious cut, how do you go about buying it?
One issue that I run into when trying to buy bavette steak is availability. It’s a cut that is not as common as steaks like skirt, rump, and sirloin, but you may be able to find it at your local butchers.
These butcheries have a more extensive selection than a supermarket, so the likelihood of them having it is much higher. Alternatively, you could have a chat with the butcher and request it; you might find that they will set aside that cut on request.
As I mentioned above, getting hold of bavette steak can be challenging. Luckily, there is a solution for that online!
Online butcheries have become very popular over the last few years as they supply specialized, local meat delivered right to your door. Some work like any online store, while others work off a subscription box model.
Here are a few US-based online butcheries that stock bavette:
My suggestion is to search online butcheries based in your area so you know you’re eating locally and sustainably.
Supermarkets are the most accessible and often the most affordable option for many people. This does come with its pitfalls, however.
Bavette steak is often sold as sirloin flap steak in supermarkets, so keep an eye out for that name on the shelves. The main problem, however, is that it’s rare to find this cut in a regular grocery store. (Hint: check Mexican grocery stores.) The prices will usually be decent if you do find it – but don’t go to any old store and expect them to stock bavette.
There are two forms that bavette is sold in, whole and in individual steaks. If you’re cooking your bavette on a grill, I highly recommend buying it whole and cutting it into steaks when you serve. It’s a great way to cook your meat, and it will taste spectacular with the grill’s smoke.
When buying steak, there are so many different factors to consider, but, in general, there are a few things you need to look for to get a really great steak.
- Marbling- This is a thin cut, but bavette will have some marbling through the meat. The amount will vary depending on the breed of cow. You want a nice amount of marbling to make the beef juicier but not too much excess fat on the surface.
On top of this, the meat should be a nice deep red, which means the beef is well-aged and has a high flavor.
- Size- You can buy bavette whole or in portions. Pro grillers love a whole bavette, but your average home cook will buy them as steaks. If you are buying them in portions, avoid the steaks that are too thin, as this will overcook very quickly.
- Water content- When meat has a high water content, it is often because the meat is injected with water to bump up the weight and, in turn, the price. When this type of steak is cooked, it will shed the water really fast, which can cause the steak to boil instead of frying. It will also shrink significantly.
Despite the fancy name, bavette steak is simply a steak found in the abdominal region of the cow. Its mild marbling and tough texture mean it’s very flavorful and has a slightly chewy texture unless cooked low and slow.
So, the next time you see bavette steak on a menu, why not give it a try? You won’t regret it.