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Beef Steak Varieties

A quick guide to the different types of beef steak.

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Porterhouse Steak

Porterhouse Steak

Photo by Neeta Lind [flickr]

If you don’t know the difference between a flank steak and a T-bone, ordering at a restaurant or preparing for a barbecue can be difficult. Use this primer as a quick reference for quick descriptions of the different types of beef steak and how they are best prepared.

Chuck Steak – This cut is taken from the area between the neck and the ribs. This meat contains a larger amount of collagen and other connective tissues, which can be can cause it to be tough when cooked quickly on a grill, but becomes quite tender when cooked with slow methods like braising, stewing, or roasting. Chuck steak is often used to make ground beef.

Cube Steak– Cube steak is often made from top round, which is taken from the large hind quarter muscles of the cow. Cube steak is tenderized and softened by pounding with heavy mallets or other mechanical methods.

Filet Mignon – This steak is cut from the tenderloin, which is a small, very lean, and tender muscle that runs along the back of the cow. Because the tenderloin is small and the most tender cut of meat on the cow, it is usually the most expensive.

Flank Steak – Flank steak is a long, flat cut of meat taken from the belly of the cow. Although this cut is quite flavorful, it tends to be tougher than other cuts of beef.

New York Strip Steak – A New York Strip steak is similar to a porterhouse or a T-bone steak, but without the filet or tenderloin attached. This flavorful cut of meat is ideal for grilling and is a favorite of steak lovers. This steak, which is cut from the rear portion of the back may also be referred to as a top loin steak.

Porterhouse Steak – This steak is a combination of two parts: strip steak and tenderloin filet. This large steak is cut from the back, below the ribs and contains a large, t-shaped bone. Porterhouse steak is similar to a T-bone steak but generally has more tenderloin filet attached.

Rib Eye Steak – This steak is cut from the ribs of the cow and contains a high amount of marbled fat, which makes it tender, juicy, and flavorful. Rib eye steaks are generally roasted in the oven to soften the fat and connective tissue, rather than being cooked with quick methods like grilling.

Round Steak – This cut is taken from the butt of the cow and is typically very lean. If not cooked properly, this cut can become quite dry due to the low fat content. Round steaks are best for grilling or making into ground beef or jerky.

Sirloin Steak – Sirloin is taken from the hip of the cow and tends to be slightly more tough and lean than other cuts. The top sirloin is more tender and therefore more desirable than bottom sirloin. Sirloins are great for quick cooking methods such as grilling.

Skirt Steak – Skirt steak is cut from the diaphragm of the cow and can be further divided into inside or outside skirt steak. The inside skirt steak, which is more tender and flavorful than the outside skirt steak, is similar to flank steak, but is a slightly different cut. The two terms are sometimes used interchangeably.

Strip Steak – A very tender cut of steak taken from the loin and also referred to as New York Strip Steak.

T-bone Steak – A combination of strip steak and tenderloin filet, connected by a t-shaped bone. T-bone steak is very similar to the porterhouse steak, but generally contains a smaller tenderloin filet. Both T-bone and Porterhouse steaks are great for grilling and are favorites among steak lovers.

Tri-tip Steak – This steak is cut from a small, triangular muscle, which is part of the bottom sirloin. This boneless cut of beef is generally roasted, braised, grilled slowly, or used for ground beef.

Salisbury Steak – Salisbury steak is actually not a steak at all, but a ground beef patty seasoned with onions and typically served with mushroom gravy. This dish is usually made with inexpensive, low grade beef.

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