With all the talk today in the nation's various food sections about grilling and steak, I thought it would be fitting to feature a steak-related tip from What's a Cook to Do?, James Patterson's extremely useful book of kitchen tips that explains almost everything. After the jump, Steaks, by Cut.
And, thanks to the good folks at Artisan Books, we're giving away five (5) copies of this enormously helpful book.
How to Buy Steaks Most steaks are simply slices of what would otherwise be roasts. Rib steaks come from the rib section, strip steaks from the loin, filets from the tenderloin, and so on. Depending on how the loin is butchered, it may have been sliced into porterhouses or separated into New York strip and tenderloin, both of which can be roasted whole.
Strip and shell (New York cuts) These are the large tenderloin muscle from lower down the animal along the back, after the last ribs. A strip is boneless; a shell steak has the bone attached. These are not quite as tender as the tenderloin, but they can be much tastier.
Rib steak This is a tender, expensive steak much like shell steak, except that it has a chunk of fat—easily circumvented—in the middle of each steak.
Tenderloin The most tender steak of all, that taken from the thinner end of the long, tapering tenderloin, is the filet mignon. The larger round is sometimes called tournedos.
Porterhouse and T-bone These are cross sections of the back of the animal. The T-shaped bone separates the larger loin muscle (the New York cut) and the tenderloin. T-bones include only a small piece of the tenderloin, as well as the loin (the strip). A porterhouse, the most luxurious of steaks, includes both.
Sirloin Unless the label says "sirloin strip," which refers to the more expensive strip steak, the sirloin is cut from further down the back of the animal from the strip. Sirloin is often a good value because it's tender and can be well marbled and very flavorful; it is considerably less expensive than the strip.
Eye of the round This looks like a tenderloin, but it can be quite tough. It's best to serve this steak thinly sliced.
London broil The original London broil was a flank steak—the flaps that hang from the sides of the animal—but nowadays it is usually a chuck steak, and rather tugh. Be sure to serve it thinly sliced across the grain to diminish the impression of toughness.
Flank steak Once a very good value, flank steak has gotten a bit pricey. But it's very flavorful. Serve it sliced thinly across the grain, which on flank steak is very easy to see.
Hanger steak Once a cut the butchers took home because no one wanted it, this has become a popular steak. It looks a little like a knotted rope—not very pretty to look at, but very tasty—and has a strip of sinew down the middle that should be cut out.