The Chicken Dinner Of Steaks
Sirloin steak is kind of the also-ran steak in some ways. That tasty and, well, tender tenderloin runs right between the sirloin regions, which are sirloin, top sirloin, and bottom sirloin. Sadly, sirloin isnt quite as tender as tenderloin, but dammit, a sirloin is pretty tender, often retails for less than $8 a pound, and can be sliced up for delicious sandwiches, used in savory stews, or enjoyed as an entree. In fact, in many mid- to lower-range steakhouses, if you order a steak thats around $12 to $15 with potato and side included, youre going to get sirloin, and youre probably going to be cool with it.
Sirloins dont typically come super thick, so cooking them is pretty simple. You can cook these bad boys over medium-high direct heat for two to four minutes per side, depending on your desired level of doneness.
Top 6 Best Cuts Of Steak: Ranked By Taste And Nutrition
A thick juicy steak is the highlight of most respectable restaurant menus, and the centerpiece of backyard bbqs alike. Steak is as American as, well, apple pie, just a whole lot healthier! But what are the best cuts of steak?
In this article well rate the best cuts of steak based on their nutritional benefits. Surprisingly to some, the most delicious and healthiest are also the fattiest.
What Goes With Good Steak
You just spent some extra money and effort on steak, so let it be the star of the show. Simple starters and sides will bring out the best in your steak. For a classic steakhouse dinner, go with a Wedge Salad to start and Baked Potatoes on the side. Maybe youre thinking of an outdoor summer dinner with grilled steak, in which case all you need is corn on the cob, sliced tomatoes with salt, and a glass of rosé. Steak pairs well with simple starches like potatoes and green vegetables like spinach and Steamed Asparagus, so let that be your guide as you plan your menu.
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Best Boneless Cuts For Grilling: Ribeye Top Loin Or Top Sirloin
For a boneless cut, look for ribeye, top loin, or top sirloin.
- Ribeye is cut from the center portion of the rib, same as a prime rib. These steaks are well marbled, very juicy, and have a full beef flavor.
- Top loin is cut from behind the ribs and is also known as strip steak, Kansas City steak, or New York strip. Its full-flavored and very tender.
- Top sirloin steak is cut from the hip of the cow and is also called London Broil. Top sirloin steaks vary in tenderness and marbling and are leaner than the other two boneless options.
Whether You Prefer Boneless Or Bone
The best cuts of beef for a juicy steak are well-marbled cuts with visible flecks of white fat throughout the cut.
The USDAs beef grading system helps with this: beef graded as prime has the most marbling and is cut from young, well-fed cattle beef graded as choice has less marbling but will still be tender, juicy, and flavorful. Both are ideal choices for grilling!
More specifically, here are the beef cuts that are a cut above the rest for the grill, at least!
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To Finish On The Grill
The grill can add a nice smoky char to the surface of a steak. For an easy cookout, cook your steaks sous vide, then transfer the water and the steaks to a beer cooler and seal it shut to take with you to the grill. When ready to cook, crack open the cooler, un-bag the steaks, and grill them to give them surface texture and flavor.
What Is The Best Cut Of Steak
The best cuts of meat are all found running down the back of the cow, far away from what butchers call the hoof and horn. Cuts that are closer to the legs and shoulder get a lot of exercise, as they help support the cows movements, which strains the muscles and results in tougher cuts of beef. Thats why brisket and beef shanks need to be braised low and slow to help soften up those connective tissues. Cuts that run along the back, like ribeye, strip, tenderloin and T-bone dont work as hard, so they are much more tender and perfect for a steak dinner.
Before we get into the benefits of each type of steak, we should quickly define the term marbling, which youll see used below. Unlike the chunky, chewy bits of fat you might cut off the side of your steak, marbling is the flavorful, welcome white fat that branches evenly throughout the tissue. Marbling affects the taste and texture of steak, and it will be a key differentiator youll think about when deciding between the four best cuts of steak.
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For The Best Steak Dry
Finally, let’s talk about aging. All beef is aged before it gets to the supermarket or butcher shop. There are two methods for aging beef, wet and dry. Wet-aged beef is simply aged in vacuum bags and it’s the way most supermarket meat is aged. Dry-aged beef, on the other hand, produces more intense flavor and is the way the most high-end beef is aged.
Dry-aged beef has been hung in a cooler for a length of timea few weeks, usuallyunder humidity-controlled conditions, which allows excess moisture to drain out, thus concentrating the flavor and also tenderizing it by allowing the meat’s natural enzymes to break down some of the connective tissues that make a steak tough.
While it may be uncommon to find dry-aged beef at the supermarket, a better butcher shop or specialty food store should carry it. A warning, though: This superior quality and flavor are going to cost you. Dry-aged beef is more expensive, pound for pound because it has less moisture in itand thus less weightthan a regular steak. Yes, if you think about it, that means you’re paying for water. But, in the words of famed steak aficionado Frank Sinatra, that’s life.
A dry-aged steak is also going to have to be trimmed more, which means the butcher is going to have to charge a little more to make up for the bits that were trimmed off. So a dry-aged steak will cost more, but it is absolutely worth it.
Steak Cuts From The Loin Primal
The loin primal is another source of classic premium steaks other than the rib primal. It has two parts which are short loin and sirloin whereas sirloin is situated toward the round of beef.
Due to the more frequent use of muscle, the meat taken from this area tends to be leaner than that of rib primal. Yet, they still have an excellent mouthfeel, especially the Filet Mignon which is the most tender cut of beef.
Here comes the introduction of Filet Mignon, New York Strip Steak, T-Bone Steak / Porterhouse, Sirloin Steak and Tri-Tip.
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Whats The Deal With Dry
When meat is hung and left to age, several magical flavour-boosting processes occur. As the meat sits, enzymes begin to break down muscle fibres and connective tissue, making it noticeably more tender compared to fresh steak. This enzyme action, along with changes that occur when the fat is exposed to oxygen, leads to a more concentrated flavour, giving the beef a complex, nutty aroma. For knock-your-socks off taste, look for a steak with excellent marbling that has been aged for at least 14 days.
Also Labelled As: Rib Steak Spencer Steak Delmonico Steak
Grilled steak with caesar salad. Photo, Erik Putz.
Rib steak is cut from a prime rib roast and can be identified by the telltale curved bone attached. Ribeye steaks are more common, and are the same cut, but with the bone removed. Essentially a boneless prime rib, ribeye steaks are rich, flavourful and juicy. This is a pricier cut, but the results are well worth the splurge.
Best used for: Pan searing, grilling.
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Vacio Or Bavette Steak
One of the steaks you might not have heard of is the vacio steak, an extremely popular steak in Argentina . The vacio is a primal cut of the flank, but it’s actually quite different from a flank steak. In the cow, the vacio hangs beneath the loin and is bolstered by the cow’s belly, which encases the meat in layers of fat. When butchered, the vacio steak has an unusual diamond shape, weighs between four and five pounds, and can feed a good-size party of hungry Argentines . It’s always slow-grilled whole, then sliced, and the well-marbled meat is tender and very flavorful. The crispy belly fat is almost as cherished as the steak itself.
In France, the vacio steak is called the bavette d’aloyau. It’s the exact same cut, but as you might expect, it’s cooked in the French way. The bavette is cut into individual steaks and is either marinated and grilled or pan-fried in butter and served with a shallot sauce and French fries. So, the next time you’re sipping wine in a bistro on the Champs-Élysées, and see steak-frites on the menu, order it, and enjoy a steak that’s loved on two continents.
What Is A Roast
A roast is a cut of meat that is usually cooked whole. Roasts serve several people, and often use the roasting cooking method, which is heating in a dry oven. Roasts can also be braised, which involves frying the outside of the meat and then cooking it slowly in a closed container, often with some sort of liquid .
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Look For The Marbling
My personal favorite steak is a boneless rib-eye steak. It’s incredibly tender and flavorful. You might prefer a different one, and your preferences might change with time. For years, my go-to steak was the New York strip, but I’m currently a ribeye man. But remember, not all steaks are created equal. You don’t just want a ribeye, you want a good ribeye. Fortunately, you can easily distinguish a high-quality steak from a lesser one, simply by looking at it. You just need to know what to look for. And that something is called marbling.
The word marbling refers to the little flecks of fat that naturally occur within the muscle of the meat. The more marbling a steak has, the more flavorful it will be. Chances are you’ll notice a price difference, too. Conversely, if you’ve ever looked at two steaks at the butcher shop and wondered why one cost more than the other, you’ll probably see that the pricier one had significantly more marbling.
Quality designations, such as prime, choice and select, can be helpful, but not every steak you buy at the store will have these designations. If they do, prime is the best quality, followed by choice, then select. Moreover, these quality designations are based in large part on marbling, so even if the meat hasn’t been graded, you can identify a superior cut of meat by looking for the marbling.
The Steak For Special Occasions
Buffet-style meal service has gone the way of the dodo. But, we can all remember the meat carver who always sliced the prime rib too thin for our liking when we went to the fancy buffet with grandma. Prime rib is a cut of beef often reserved for holidays, weddings, or other events that call for feeding a large group.
Think of the prime rib as multiple rib-eyes combined into one, roasted for hours to heavenly, fat-rendered perfection. The traditional way of cooking a prime rib is in the oven after searing the outside. However, if you want to take the flavor up a notch, we suggest utilizing your smoker or high-quality pellet grill.
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Other Factors To Consider When Buying Nice Steak
One thing youll want to think about is the USDA grading system, in which beef is graded as prime, choice or select. Prime cuts are superior, coming from young, well fed cows, with abundant marbling. Choice beef is still high-quality, but it has less marbling than prime cuts. Select beef has the lowest amount of marbling, so it is much leaner than prime and choice beef. It may still be tender, but it will be less juicy and flavorful than the others as well.
Another factor to consider is the dry aging process. During this process, beef spends a certain amount of time in a temperature-controlled environment, exposing it to air, which improves its depth of flavor and tenderness. It is a very scientific process that usually takes place over thirty to forty-five days. Dry-aged meat is more expensive, but it is certainly a treat for an extra-special occasion.
It may seem simple, but the thickness of your cut of beef is also a very important consideration. Cooking steak to perfection is all about the balance of a crisp sear on the outside, and a juicy, pink center. Whether youre cooking on the grill, in a cast-iron skillet on the stove, or even a reverse sear starting in the oven, a slightly thicker cut will help you achieve the right sear-to-pink ratio.
What Is The Most Expensive Cut Of Steak
The most expensive cuts of steak are taken from the most tender parts of the cow, so tenderloin is going to be the priciest cut. It is a very small part of the cow, so the high cost is also a matter of supply and demand.
If youve ever heard of Japanese wagyu or kobe beef, youve definitely heard that they will cost you a pretty penny. Wagyu and kobe beef dont reference cuts of steak they reference the way the cows are bred and raised. These classifications of cows are raised in Japan on a very strict, specific diet, meant to ensure that the beef contains just the right level of flavor and fat. This level of care is what guarantees the high price tag.
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Beef Chuck Primal Cut
This cut of meat is a large section of beef cut from the shoulder, arm, and chest sections. With it, you can get other prime cuts, like Denver steak, blade steak, and flavorful roasts. This section of beef is known for its robust flavor and its ability to produce a number of popular steaks.
Beef that comes from this cut of steak are best used for roasts, where theyll cook slowly over low heat. The cooking process naturally tenderizes the beef with its own fat, leaving behind the rich, beefy flavor you want without the tough and chewy texture.
Some steaks that you get from the beef chuck primal cut, like the blade steak, have a long piece of fat running through them that youll need to cut around before you eat the meat. Some of these cuts can also be tougher than other steaks youre used to, so it may not be the best option for searing, cooking on the grill, or using another method that could dry out the beef.
How To Choose The Perfect Steak
A perfect steak is one of lifes greatest treats and pleasures, but only if the best sourced meat is perfectly cooked. Times have moved on from the days when choosing a steak meant plumping for a Sirloin, or perhaps Rump if on a bit more of a budget. Now there are a multitude of cuts which were always available, but have now reached the limelight with good reason. So which should you go for?
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Why Hasnt The Best Cut Of Steak Changed Over The Years
So much has changed in America since the 1800s that youd think the best cut of steak may have changed too but it hasnt.
Meat from the top and center of the steer is especially tender since this area doesnt get much work during the steers lifetime.
The general rule of thumb for any cut of meat is to remember that beef gets more tender as the distance from the horn and hoof increases. A steers legs do most of the work, so the muscles there are firmer. The loin and ribs dont get as much of a workout, so theyre more tender. If you need a refresher about all beef cuts, check out What Everybody Ought to Know About Beef Cuts.
Choose Well Aged Meat
The process of aging meat is an important one, often overlooked by supermarkets in the rush to cut down on processing time and costs, as meat being hung in storage costs time and money. As meat is hung, the enzymes present start to slowly break down the structure, which creates a much more tender texture, and enhances the beef flavour too. The meat is succulent without drips of blood, and with a deep dark red colour, and an unmistakeable aroma. The longer that meat is hung for, the more these attributes develop, which is why all Dorset Meat Company steaks are aged for at least 28 days in our dedicated drying room.
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The Different Types Of Lean Cuts
There are plenty of lean cuts of beef out there so you can still enjoy a deliciously juicy steak while not having to forfeit your health goals. Certain types of lean cuts include top sirloin, strip steak, and flank steak, for example.
“One of my favorite lean cuts of beef is a boneless tenderloin, which is a long, narrow, and lean muscle located within the Loin, and is the most tender cut of beef available,” says Amidor, “and these types of tender cuts of beef are great roasted, grilled, or broiled and can be found at most Costcos and other grocery stores.”
Amidor also suggests trying lean ground beef, which you can make even “leaner” by draining and rinsing after cooking.
“Ground beef often comes in higher fat forms , but you can find at least 85% lean ground beef for burgers and 90% or leaner when it’s used as an ingredient for tacos or pasta dishes,” says Amidor.