I’m quite brave about buying fish, best of all something weird and wonderful that I’ve never cooked or eaten before. But I’m a whole lot less adventurous when it comes to meat. This week, while checking out the fish at Match, my eye strayed to the meat counter and fell upon a piece of onglet. Hmm. I’ve met this choice morsel of steak in bistros and brasseries and always loved it – generally cooked à l’échalote, a sort of gorgeously jammy mess of shallots. But I’d never bought it or done it up at home. What is it and which part of the boeuf does it come from? Not a clue.
My faithful Larousse Gastronomique came to the rescue:
Onglet: A French cut of beef consisting of two small muscles joined by an elastic membrane (the supporting muscles of the diaphragm). The butcher splits it open, trims it, and removes all the skin and membrane. Onglet must be well hung; the meat is then tender and juicy. In the past it was not a popular cut but it is now accepted that it makes a prime steak. Whether fried or grilled (broiled), it should be eaten rare, otherwise it becomes tough.
Larousse Gastro doesn’t venture to translate the term but their online French-English dictionary gives it as ‘top skirt’. And as to which part of the animal it comes from, for that I needed one of the brochures I once got from the French butchers’ association, which gives a whole bunch of different cuts of beef (and veal, pork, lamb and offal/organ meats) plus a nifty little map of the animal, showing the exact whereabouts of the part in question – here’s the relevant page.
And as for the onglet, how was it for us? I seasoned it with crunchy bits of salt and great gobs of freshly ground pepper, heated a knob of butter and some olive oil, threw it in the pan and gave it around a minute and a half on each side to keep it good and rare, as instructed. Some leftover halves of multi-coloured potatoes went into the pan too and a gungy combo of the last of the courgette/tomato/pepper harvest to complete the picture. It was tender and juicy and exceedingly beefy. Yum. And a glass of Domaine des Jonquières Lansade 2009, a good meaty red from the Pays d’Hérault, didn’t go amiss either.
Keep your eyes skinned for a nice piece of top skirt. You won’t be disappointed.