Now that I'm eating again, after my recent bout of food poisoning, I feel like I need foods that are fortifying. Steak, I thought. We had steak with a pepper-cream sauce just before Christmas (steak au poivre for Walt's birthday dinner), and I wanted something different. But first the steak. This one weighed 700 grams (1½ lbs.) and we of course did not eat it all in one sitting.
This is a cut of beef called basse-côte. When we first came to live here more than 16 years ago, I never saw this kind of steak in the supermarkets. I didn't even know it existed, so I never ordered it from the local butcher shops. It's what we call in the U.S. a chuck steak, I believe. It's not too expensive, and it's pretty tender. This one was sold as a basse-côte à griller — a steak to grill or pan-sear. Sometimes I see steaks called basse-côte à mijoter — meat for stewing that needs long, slow cooking.
The Larousse Gastronomique says that the basses côtes are neck muscles from the first five dorsal ribs of the steer. Boned out, the basses côtes make for delicious stews (pot-au-feu, for example), braises, and beef burgundy. Cut into steaks, they are good grilled and are called entrecôtes parisiennes, which are not too lean and are very much appreciated by gourmets.* I guess we are gourmets, by that standard!
* BASSES CÔTES Muscles du garrot entourant les cinq premières vertèbres dorsales du bœuf... Désossées, les basses côtes permettent des préparations savoureuses de pot-au-feu, de bœuf braisé ou de bourguignon. Tranchées, elles fournissent des grillades, ou « entrecôtes parisiennes », grasses, très appréciées des gourmets.