What is steak?
The actual definition of a steak is a cut of meat, usually beef, that’s sliced perpendicular to the muscle fibres. Steaks are basically any piece of meat that falls under the category of fast-cooking cuts that are low enough in connective tissue that they don’t require the long cooking times that other slow-cooking cuts require.
The variety of steaks on the market can be confusing. Most people go to a butcher, supermarket, or an online store to scour seemingly endless steak options. Here is a guide to the most popular stocked steaks.
Rib Eye Steak (also known as Entrecôte, Delmonico, Scotch fillet, Spencer, market, beauty)
The rib-eye has long been a favorite of steak lovers worldwide due to its luscious marbling, which allows the meat to be very tender and juicy. The rib-eye is a boneless cut. When the bone is attached it is called a rib steak. These steaks should be cooked quickly by grilling or broiling. Where It’s Cut From: The front end of the Longissimus dorsi, from the Rib primal of the steer. The further towards the head of the steer you get, the more of the Spinalis muscle you’ll find in your steak—that’s the cap of meat that wraps around the fatter end of the steak.
Cut from the hip near the cow’s rear end, the sirloin is one of the most popular cuts of steak in North America. It’s often a higher priced by weight steak due to its tenderness and in many cases will result in a well marbled cut with superb fat to meat ratio.Must make sure all the gristle is removed when choosing the cut and cooking.
Filet Steak (Filet Mignon, Châteaubriand, Fillet, Tenderloin)
Sliced from the small end of the tenderloin, the filet mignon is typically the most tender of all steaks, and therefore it’s often the most expensive cut by weight. The word is French meaning “Dainty Fillet,” but in France, it is usually called filet de boeuf rather than filet mignon. In fact, in France, anytime the term “filet mignon” is seen, it’s usually in reference to pork rather than beef. Look out for steaks with a blueish membrane around them, known as silverskin.
T-bone Steak (Porterhouse)
A cross section of the unfilleted short loin. This steak is named after its T-shaped bone. It’s similar in appearance to the porterhouse, yet with a smaller portion of the filet mignon side. They are best grilled or broiled to medium-rare temperature; the meat near the bone tends to cook more slowly than other parts of the steak.
Boston Butt Steak
Originating from colonial New England, butchers would take the less expensive cuts and use them to pack the bottom of the transport barrels, which were called butts. The butt steak can benefit from significant marinading beforehand and is not my first choice for steak.
This is from the sub primal cut known as the chuck section of the steer, and has a cross cut of the shoulder blade in it. Since the bone is shaped like the number “7,” it is the so-called “7-Bone Steak.” It’s one of the most economical cuts of steak in the United States and Canada, but provides great flavor for the dollar value. Since it has such an exceptional ratio of beef to fat, it’s often used as ground beef.
Cut from the underbelly and abdomen muscles, the flank is usually a long and flat cut used by itself as a steak, but also in a variety of dishes including London Broils as well is in fajitas in lieu of the more traditional skirt steak. Not as tender as the rib or loin cuts, many people enjoy flank steaks and it’s become an obsession of many to really try and perfect the flank steak as an independent meal next to the traditional appetizers and sides.
Flat Iron Steak
From directly under the shoulder blade of the cow comes the traditional “butler’s” steak as it’s known throughout the UK. Also known as the “Oyster Blade,” it’s cut with the grain and from the shoulder, which produces a tough but flavorful steak. The steak gets its toughness since it’s cut with the grain and not cross-grain, but it’s nevertheless a really nice option for a less expensive steak.
Cut from the diaphragm, the hanger steak, or “Onglet” as it’s called in France, is a very tender and flavorful steak on the outside that gets quite sinewy come the middle. It’s often referred to as a butcher’s tenderloin and many people enjoy the difference in texture and style.
Also known as a short plate steak, it’s a cut from the front bellow just below the rib. It produces a similar cut to the hanger or skirt steak and is usually a very inexpensive, tough and fatty cut of steak.
Round or Rump Steak
The quintessential grilling steak from the rump of the animal, this steak can be very tough if not properly cooked, however when it is well cooked, it can be a marvelous cut of beef. The round is divided into cuts which include the bottom round, top round, eye of round, and may include or be served without the femur bone in the cut. Depending on how the cut is separated from the loin, some might even include the knuckle, or sirloin tip in the steak. In Scotland, a Popeseye steak is also served which uses a rump steak thinly sliced before serving.
Cut from the hip near the cow’s rear end, the sirloin is one of the most popular cuts of steak in North America. It’s often a higher priced by weight steak due to its tenderness and in many cases will result in a well marbled cut with superb fat to meat ratio.
Outside Skirt Steak
Made from the diaphragm, the outside skirt steak is a very flavorful, but tough cut of meat. Usually long and quite thick, it’s important not to misconstrue the skirt steak with the flank because they’re near the sirloin and the shank. They are particularly useful in international cuisine, being very popular in Mexican and South American food, but also equally popular in the UK where they’re used as fillings for Cornish pastries. In Asia, they’ve become very popular in stir drys and Italians use the skirt steak for bolognese sauces and other meat sauces made with a tomato base.
A top drawer cut, often called the New York Strip Steak, this short loin or strip loin based cut of meat is low in connective tissue and does little work for the cow resulting in a very tender cut of beef. When it’s attached to the bone, it becomes what’s called a T-Bone steak.
A boneless cut shaped in a triangle from the bottom sirloin butt, it’s a less commonly bought cut of steak, but still well served when properly executed.
Video Guide for Steaks (from Youtube)