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Scotch Fillet (Rib-Eye) Steak-Off – Gourmet vs Budget

A friend recently sent food porn of his best home-cooked steak ever and referred to it as a “Chamois Steak”, WTF… never heard of this, and no amount of searching could find a reference to this particular cut – the photos just looked like scotch fillet to me, but slightly different somehow.

Went to this butcher of his (Glenunga Gourmet Meats) and sure enough there is a line-up of Chamois Steaks. I asked about them, saying they just looked like oddly cut really thick scotch fillets, and yep that’s what they are – I enquired as to the nomenclature, apparently they are named after a customer who requested this specific very round very thick 500g portion.

Basically it’s a scotch fillet with a bunch of the odd-shaped and flappy bits cut off and so it comes out basically round.

One steak will set you back about $22 bucks, but having sampled the goods I can attest it is certainly worth it.

However, I’d also just purchased a whole cryovac’d scotch fillet hunk at $9.90/kg – less than 25% of the Chamois price – which means this 2kg slab of meat was actually cheaper than the single steak.

So the night after I cooked up the Chamois and decided it was one of my own top ten steaks ever, I decided to duplicate the methods using the budget meat and see just how much difference there is…

I took the whole scotch fillet slab and cut a piece about 3.5″ thick from the middle, this weighed about 750g with the extra bits not included on the Chamois, so I checked out the pics from the previous night and trimmed off best I could to resemble the butcher’s cut.

Gourmet “Chamois” Steak – $44/kgBudget Scotch Fillet – $9.90/kg
scotch fillet budget vs gourmet

The meat itself from this budget cut is a little more… floppy – and my knifemanship is a bit rusty, so it’s only a reasonable facsimile of the butcher’s cut.

Gourmet “Chamois” Steak – $44/kgBudget Scotch Fillet – $9.90/kg
scotch fillet budget vs gourmet

Still, decent enough I reckon, even got the weight within about 20g of the Chamois.

No special preparation, just dried off the outside with bogroll, smashed some garlic and rubbed it in, cracked some pepper on it, then chucked it on the BBQ until char-grilled each side – to about 50°C/122°F internal temp.

Then while the sauce was made I just left it in on a dinner plate in the BBQ with the burner on lowest setting, I use a digital thermometer and the temp came up to 58°C/136°F, then while resting they dropped to low 50’s/120’s by the time we served it – perfect mouth-melting temp.

Here they are cooked.

Gourmet “Chamois” Steak – $44/kgBudget Scotch Fillet – $9.90/kg
scotch fillet budget vs gourmet

The Chamois seemed to have a lot more fat within it, and this caused the BBQ to flame up significantly more and give it a more scorchy charred exterior, the other steak simply cooked as per usual on the grill and over heat – not much flamage.

As for the touch-test, the Chamois was stunningly soft and malleable, it was like pressing on a kitten’s belly. The other steak however was like a firm sponge, I was quite worried I’d really overdone it.

Time to cut…

Gourmet “Chamois” Steak – $44/kgBudget Scotch Fillet – $9.90/kg
scotch fillet budget vs gourmet

Phew!

Both done perfectly.

Cut them into slivers for easy distribution, here you can really see the extra juiciness of the Chamois vs the budget’s lean-ness, also for some reason the budget leaked a bunch of its “blood” (water/myoglobin) whereas the Chamois retained it – maybe wasn’t rested long enough, unsure.

Gourmet “Chamois” Steak – $44/kgBudget Scotch Fillet – $9.90/kg
scotch fillet budget vs gourmet

EXTREME CLOSE-UP!

Gourmet “Chamois” Steak – $44/kgBudget Scotch Fillet – $9.90/kg
scotch fillet budget vs gourmet

For the Chamois the girl did roasted pumpkin, fried broccolini, and a mushroom onion white wine sauce – the creaminess comes only from blending the sauteed mushrooms and onions. Great sauce, but overkill for meat of this succulence – a simple drizzle of oil and chopped garlic would suffice.

The other steak got a side of baked sweet potato and the sauce was again mushroom and onion, except this time it was done in veggie stock and had cream added.

Gourmet “Chamois” Steak – $44/kgBudget Scotch Fillet – $9.90/kg
scotch fillet budget vs gourmet

The Verdict

Well, the girl said the budget was probably almost as good as the previous night’s Chamois exploits, in fact she might have preferred the flavour of the budget, however the Chamois was more tender and juicy and didn’t have as many “icky bits” that she discards (and I swoop upon).

For me the Chamois was definitely better than this budget version, more tender (it kept it’s juices when cutting), more juicy (extra marbling), and overall more flavoursome for me – which also could be because it had a lot more flaming as it cooked giving it a superior char-grilled/smoked flavour.

So for me the Chamois was a clear winner, but certainly not 420% better which the price would otherwise reflect. Put it this way – the budget version cost $5 bucks, the Chamois was about $22 bucks. Both hunks of meat with moderate sides were plenty to over-feed two hungry humans.

Next time I get a slab I’ll just try harder to find a fattier one, but that’s more difficult to surmise marbling from an uncut chunk, whereas I could see exactly what I was getting when I chose the already butcher-cut steak. If it’s a little too lean I’ll probably put a knob of ghee on top when it’s on the BBQ and let that drip down and create a bit of flames to scorchify things a bit.

For general every day eating this cheap stuff is excellent – but for impressing guests or occasional treat I would stump up for the uber quality scotch, and the “Chamois” is an excellent cut style to get the most out of it.

Chamois: 9.5/10
Budget: 8/10

Full-size individual pics and more story available in the forums.

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