Despite its rich, intense red colour and the lack of connective tissues that make it tender, the beef diaphragm remains an obscure selection among meat cuts.
Often mistakenly considered offal, the diaphragm, or the Diaframma di manzo as Italians call it, is a third-tier cut between the last ribs and behind the sternum, also serving as the primary respiratory muscle in cattle. This unique position lends a particularly intense flavour profile, enriched by its high collagen and fat content.
Why is this meat cut rarely used?
One of the reasons why this meat cut is not commonly chosen is its external layer of incredibly tough tissue, which must be removed before cooking.
Additionally, the cut is high in calories due to its intramuscular fat. However, appropriate preparation and cooking techniques can easily manage these factors.
The beef diaphragm is not confined to any country’s food culture. In Mexico, it’s often minced and pan-fried with vegetables; in the United States, it’s usually grilled and known as Onglet in France, the diaphragm features in traditional dishes prepared in various ways. The versatility of this cut of meat allows it to shine in different cultural settings, offering diverse cooking and flavouring options.
The Importance of Quality
One must emphasise the need for quality meat. When the meat is of superior quality, elaborate preparation is unnecessary.
Simple seasoning with salt and pepper can bring out the full flavour of the cut, making it an ideal choice for quick grilling or pan-frying.
A Cut for All Occasions
Recent years have seen the beef diaphragm gaining more attention, particularly in Italy, where it was relatively unknown until recently. This cut is often called Skirt Steak thanks to its long and thin shape, which is perfect for fast cooking. Trimming excess fat and cutting against the grain is important to maximise tenderness.
One can also experiment with marinades to soften its intense flavour, using ingredients like olive oil, soy sauce, finely chopped scallions, and a teaspoon of honey.
From grilling in line with South American tradition to pan-frying on a cast-iron skillet, various cooking methods bring out the best in beef diaphragm. You could also turn to Tex-Mex recipes, using this cut for making delectable tacos or beef fajitas.