Of all the confusion meat in Israel seems to cause, the piece that creates the most head-scratching seems to be the #9. It has two different names which are not synonyms for the same piece, nor do they look the same when they come out of the packaging. A retail piece of #9 is called alternately Asado or Kashtit, depending on which part of the cut we’re talking about. Despite the confusion that surrounds these pieces, this is a popular and fairly common cut of meat found in the Jewish household.
In order to understand what this meat portion is and how to use it, let’s take a look at its various names and the varieties of cuts.
The #9 is a rather large secondary cut from the chuck of the animal, extending from under the ‘armpit’ of the beef (or a little higher) down to its belly. The entire section is known as the short plate or fore plate in American butchery, plat de côtes in French, thin rib to the British, and asado in Argentina. The short plate is roughly 8% of an entire beef. For a 500 kg. (1100 lbs.) animal, that’s about 30 kilo (65 lbs) of retail meat. There are thicker and thinner sections of this cut; the meat thins out as it gets lower on the animal.
While entrecôte and petite fillet are words borrowed from French, the word ‘asado’ is the Spanish (assado in Portugese; two ‘s’) word for “roast.” Besides the fact that this cut in no way resembles the noun roast, ironically the verb roast is probably the only way you should not cook this piece. Unlike a minute steak roast or silver tip roast, asado is a fairly thick piece of meat. The piece comes from a section that is mildly exercised during the life of the animal, so you can’t slap it on a grill like a rib-eye or tenderloin, but that’s okay. Long, slow cooking is the only way to go with this particular piece of deliciousness.
When fabricated by your local butcher, they have likely taken it upon themselves to market this cut as a long, skinny piece of meat. often you’ll see it rolled up, possibly wrapped in plastic.
What you want to do with this piece of meat is cook it in liquid for a while, either braising it or by using a slow cooker. If you’ve ever had boneless ribs anywhere, this is them.
Depending on where the meat came from specifically, you might want to spend some time trimming away some of the extra fat. A thin layer is fine, but if it’s thicker than your finger, trim it. I assure you there will be plenty of fat left to keep the meat moistened while cooking.
You can smoke these pieces, since they’ll pick up a good amount of smoky flavor, then finish them off in a very slow oven. Be sure to give them lots of liquid to cook in. You can cut the strip up into pieces first, or cook it whole and cut it up when it’s ready to serve.
If I can reach my butcher in time before it gets cut into strips, I like to use this piece for boychn, since it has a great balance between strips of meat and fat.
The kashtit is one of the trickier pieces of meat to work with. Usually when I get a piece, it has the meat from between the ribs dangling off the bottom like piano keys. The meat is thin and may or may not be fatty depending on whether it’s imported or locally sourced. This piece makes amazing boneless ribs, however, and if you have patience and experience grilling, you can barbecue these slowly. If you don’t, cheat by first cooking them in the oven until soft, then throw them on the grill and baste them with a mop.
Where Are The Bones?
Because so much of our meat in Israel is shipped from South America, the meat packers don’t take up valuable space and weight by shipping the bones. They trim every piece of meat of extraneous fat and bone, so they can maximize the amount of meat that goes into a case. They do this to excess, in my opinion, depriving cuts of meat the fat they need to keep moist during cooking. Two of the worst infractions are on brisket and tz’ach.
The good news is that I’ve been seeing more locally sourced pieces with the bones intact, so hopefully the bones will be more readily available as time goes on.
When butchers get this as a single enormous piece, he (or she) creates strips of meat that are within the range of a kilo, making it affordable to consumers. Flanken, as its known to both Jewish and non-Jewish consumers, are thin chains of the plate cross-cut against the bones and held together with the thinnest of membranes, with enough meat on them to justify charging for them. If at all possible ask for flanken, not thin-cut flanken.
These are short, individual lengths of rib about 5 inches long with the meat attached on the top and sides of the bone. Whenever possible, get them with the really well-marbled piece of meat between the bone (or where the bone should be) and the upper strip of meat.
I hope this settles some of the naming confusion that the #9 cut has been giving you.