Types of Steak Cuts Explained by a Chef
Choosing the perfect cut of steak to suit your tastes can be quite difficult.
Sometimes I like a beautifully tender piece of tenderloin fillet, other times I may be in the mood for a robust beefy sirloin or a juicy ribeye. Do your tastes vary like mine but you’re not sure what steak to buy to satisfy those varying cravings? Or maybe you’ve got guests coming to your barbecue and you’re not sure what to offer them. Then this little guide should come in incredibly handy.
Below are descriptions of the steaks pictured above.
Top Left: Highly Marbled Sirloin
This level of marbling is found in more expensive varieties of sirloin such as Wagyu and USDA Prime.
The richness of this type of meat and the high intramuscular fat content makes it best cooked no less than medium-rare, as the fat needs to melt through the meat and will not achieve this at rare or blue temperatures.
It has quite a rich taste; ideal for that once in a while special occasion dinner but not something I would throw on the barbecue any old weekend.
Top Right: T-Bone (Also known as a Porterhouse in North America)
Some call this steak “the best of both worlds” due to the fact that on the larger side you have a full flavored sirloin and the other a more delicate and tender filet.
T-bone is the perfect choice if you are having a casual barbecue with close friends with an appetite.
Middle Left: Tenderloin Fillet (AKA: Filet Mignon, Fillet steak, Eye Fillet)
I’ve heard this called “the ideal steak for non-steak eaters”, something I completely refute yet and also slightly agree with.
The tenderloin is the tenderest of cuts, can be cut with a butter knife and will melt in your mouth. Features, I imagine that appeal to both first time steak eaters and to the regulars at the best steak joints in the world. The tenderloin is what I tend to serve if entertaining, it plates well (doesn’t take up the whole plate) and is beautiful whether you have it blue or medium.
Middle Right: Scotch Fillet (AKA: Ribeye in North America)
Due to a nice amount of fat in the muscle, this is one of the juiciest steaks you can find. A great option for marinating; it retains a full flavored beefy punch to compliment the marinade versus being overpowered by it.
Although I hate to even use the words “Well Done” if I had to pick one of these steaks to cook well done it would be this one. Due to the fat the ribeye will retain the most juice, even when over cooked. Watch the flare ups if barbecuing over open flames. For an interesting read on the history of this cut and it’s names, check out this article.
Bottom Left: Rump Steak
Many claim this to be the poor mans Sirloin although I would tend towards calling it the smart mans Ribeye. It is a full flavored and very versatile cut great for barbecuing.
It can tend to be in all shapes and sizes as it doesn’t come off the tidy short loin like most of the others, so ask your butcher to cut you as uniform pieces as possible. Also a great cut to slice and use rare in stir-fry’s.
Bottom Right: New York Cut Sirloin
I’ve heard it said that King Henry enjoyed this cut so much that he had it Knighted, hence the name Sir-Loin. Although I am a little doubtful of that, I don’t doubt that old Henry did enjoy this cut immensely.
A steak with a very hearty beef flavor, perfect for those who eat steak for that exact reason. A connoisseur’s cut and as such also a little more difficult to cook. Good for barbecues, great with a little char but not good for well done.