If you are a passionate griller you will surely have heard of scottona, or heifer meat, often the protagonist of grills and other dishes particularly appreciated by gourmets around the world. We’re sure, however, many know it, some have even eaten it – not knowing exactly what it is. Beef. Right?
But is it a breed? Is it a cut of meat?
What is Scottona
Scottona is not a breed, it is not even a cut of meat. The scottona is a heifer, therefore a female bovine, slaughtered at an age ranging from 15 to 22 months, which has not yet given birth and which has achieved good muscle development.
When we talk about heifer we mean a bovine with very specific characteristics. So it can be a heifer of Chianina, a heifer of Angus, etc.
Scottona “hot” meat of superior quality
The term scottona seems to derive from the difference between cold meats and hot meats.
The “cold meats” are obtained from older specimens, characterized by leaner and harder meat.
The “hot meats”, on the other hand, are those coming from young female cattle, which have never given birth, whose meat is softer and tastier.
It seems that the young heifers, slaughtered during the heat period, had a “hot meat”, “scalded by hormonal heat”.
It is therefore a term that originates in the cattle farms and slaughterhouses of Italy. The quality of the meat depends on the environment in which the bovine is raised, on the diet, on the sex and age of the specimen.
In general, the meat obtained from a young female bovine is always more tender, tastier, and more tender than that of the male, generally more fibrous and stringy.
The secret of Scottona
Heifer meat is characterized by good marbling, small veins of fat distributed evenly, which melt during cooking, releasing succulent liquids which will then be reabsorbed by the meat, making it softer and tastier.
There is scientific reasoning behind the softness and taste of heifer meat: estrogen, hormones naturally produced by the ovaries of the bovine during the estrous cycle (heat).
During the various estrous cycles, the young heifer is not whipped and therefore continues the production of these hormones in a repeated and prolonged way.
The presence of estrogen in significant quantities promotes organic growth and the formation of fat, which guarantees the meat excellent marbling.
Furthermore, before arriving at our table, the heifer meat is selected and aged in the fridge for 25-28 days.
Scottona meat nutritional values
The caloric intake of heifer meat is quite low (146 kcal per 100 gr.). It has a good amount of protein (21 gr. per 100 gr. of meat, equal to about 42% of the daily requirement of an adult), fats (6 gr. per 100 gr), and a good dose of potassium (about 18% of the daily requirement).
Considering the good intake of proteins and the relatively low caloric value, heifer meat is particularly suitable for those who want to follow a balanced diet and for those who practice sports.
How to cook Scottona
First of all, it is good to remember that when we talk about Scottona, we mean an entire animal.
Preparation and cooking vary in relation to which part of the bovine we are going to use.
Personally, since it is soft and tasty meat, we recommend some quicker methods, grill or barbecue.
The most common dishes are the rib steak and the heifer fillet, the heifer steaks, the heifer burger, the Picanha, and the Asado in typical Argentine style.