HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT CUT OF BEEF FOR YOUR STEAK
Secrets to a great steak begin with the selection of the beef. Most people are often at a lost when it comes to choosing beef for their steak. People often make the common mistake of going to the Supermarkets, simply choosing their beef, take it home, cook it as a piece of steak then finds it tough and chewy and then start pointing the blame at the supermarket.
Understanding the cuts of beef is very important because different cuts of beef requires different ways of cooking. Certain parts of beef are more tender and only require quick cooking methods whereas some are tougher and require long and slow cooking methods.
Not all cuts of beef make good steaks. Cuts like the Chuck and Brisket are rather tough and is more suitable to slow and moist cooking method like braising. Generally, cuts along the backbone of the cattle are relatively tender and commonly selected for making steaks.
Here are some of the common cuts of beef which are suitable for making steaks.
|Tenderloin Steak cut|
Filet Mignon is a steak cut from the Tenderloin of a beef cattle. It is also referred to as a Tenderloin steak or Chateaubriand steak.
The tenderloin muscle, anatomically referred to as Psoas Major muscle, is located alongside the inner part of the cattle’s backbone, on the lower region of the spine. It is one of the least exercised muscle thus the tenderloin is often considered the most tender cut of beef. It is relatively lean and has very little fatty tissues.
There is only two relatively small pieces of tenderloin muscle in every beef cattle thus the tenderloin is highly prized and often sought after by gourmet chefs and renowned restaurants.
Tenderloins have a very mild flavour thus often responds well to sauces without overpowering the flavor of the sauce. In the hands of a skilful chef, the tenderloin can be transformed into extremely tender and juicy filet mignons steaks.
Ribeye comes from the rib section alongside the upper part of the cattle’s backbone. It consists of three major muscles, Longissimus Dorsi, Spinalis Dorsi & Multifidus Dorsi.
|Rib Steak Cut - with rib bone still attached||Ribeye Steak Cut - with rib bone removed|
When served with the rib bone attached, it is commonly known as rib steak. Meat from this part is often ‘marbled’ with specks of intramuscular fat and makes excellent steaks. It is very tender and it also has a vein of intermuscular fat running through it. This layer of fat is greatly savored by Steak Connoisseurs. When correctly cooked at high temperature, the fat and interconnective tissues, including collagen, break down and melt. This keeps the meat moist and gives it a wonderfully intense flavor.
Ribeyes are highly rated for making excellent steaks due to the right amount of fatty tissues it has. They are more flavoursome than Tenderloins and as a result tend to be more appealing to steak lovers. Good quality Ribeyes can sometimes come with a hefty price tag.
The meat of the striploin is actually a continuity of the ribeye muscle group. It is also commonly referred to as Toploin. It is the end part of the Ribeye muscle group closer to the waist of the cattle whereas Ribeye is within the rib section closer to the shoulder. It is mainly comprise of the Longissimus Dorsi muscle.
|Toploin Steak cut - with rib bone still attached||Striploin Steak cut - with rib bone removed|
Meat from this part also make great steaks. It is still reasonably tender. It does not have the vein of fat running through it like in the Ribeye, thus unable to surpass the latter in terms of flavour. However, it does have a layer of fat on its outer edge.
Striploin is one of the most commonly served steaks in hotels and restaurants. It is also commonly referred to by many names, such as as Toploin Steak, Strip Steak, New York Strip Steak, Ambassador Steak, Club Steak, Kansas City Steak, etc.
T-Bone Steak & Porterhouse Steak
T-Bone Steak is actually a Striploin Steak with the spine bone (which resembles a ‘T’) attached. However, the highly prized tenderloin muscle attached to the spine bone is also left intact which explains the price difference between T-Bone Steaks and Striploin Steaks. Thus, the next time you tuck into a T-Bone Steak, remember to appreciate the very tender meat on one side of the ‘T-Bone’ for that is the tenderloin you are carving and savouring.
Porterhouse Steak is anatomically the same as a T-Bone Steak but is cut lower down the spine thus has a bigger proportion of the Tenderloin muscle.
|T-Bone Steak cut||Porterhouse Steak cut|
|Sirloin Steak cut|
Sirloin steak is cut from the hip section of cattle. Diners would often find cross-sections of the hip bone within their steak. This explains why Sirloin Steaks are sometimes further specified as ‘Pin bone’, ‘Flat bone’, ‘Round bone’ and ‘Wedge bone’ Sirloin steak. Sirloin is less tender than the Striploin but has a slightly stronger flavour. It is affordable and a good choice for outdoor barbeques and parties.
Apart from the premium cuts of steaks mentioned above, there are also a great variety of steaks from other parts of the cattle. Though not as tender, these other steaks are often affordable and has its own individual characteristic in terms of flavour and texture which are savoured by some.
Here are a some of the other steaks:
Rump Steak – Cut from the rump of the cattle. Traditionally, this part is more often used for roasting. If selected for steaks, it needs to be pounded down with a mallet to breakdown its muscle fibre.
Round Steak - Cut from the thigh of the cattle. The meat is lean, thus the lack of fat and marbling does not allow it to tenderize quickly. This cut is more suited to slow cooking methods such as roasting or braising. It needs to be pounded down with a mallet to tenderize it when selected for the purpose of making steaks.
Flank Steak — Long and flat, the flank steak's best known application is London Broil. One of the most affordable steaks on the market, it is substantially tough, therefore many flank recipes require marinades or moist cooking methods such as braising.