Steaks are the ultimate dinner for some but how do you know which one,
I will try to explain here.
Now remember the most tender of Steaks can be cooked as tough as a nail and the so called toughest of steaks can be cooked to fall apart tender. With that said lets start:
Steaks have several names for the different cuts and some have different names but are the same cut. Confusing to some when they know they bought a Rib-Eye one time and then the next time they buy a Rib-Eye it looks totally different. Even different countries call the steaks different names. The beef industry and chefs are working together creating different cuts for many reasons some work out and some, well not every idea works out. We want to inform our customers as much as possible about the meat they are purchasing so you stay happy and hopefully stay a customer.
My experience comes from working as an apprentice under a good meat cutter in a private market and opening a deli, gourmet grocery, meat and seafood market with another good meat cutter who's primary skill was catering. He was from California and I learned several different cuts that were not known around the area. I don't know every cut especially some of the newer ones but I love eating beef and love experimenting with cuts. Lets get to it.
Now a steak can be made out of just about any muscle but my main focus will be the most popular ones but I will still list some of the not so popular ones. Lets start at the front quarters and work to the hindquarters.
No not the bones but the muscle between the 6 and the 12 rib. Many people call all cuts in this sections a Rib Eye when boneless but this is why you can get a lean cut one time and a fatty cut the next time. The cuts closer to the front will be the "fatty" ones. These steaks are know to me as the Delmonico. These steaks will have a star or round piece on fat between the 2 different muscles and is the most tender of the rib cuts. As you go towards the hindquarters the steaks loose this fat and become leaner and some look like another steak, the Strip steak. Generally you can get 3, 1 inch Delmonico steaks before they become Rib Eyes. These steaks will not have the fat center but the tenderness will still be there and the flavor will be there as well. A few more names for the rib cut steaks are, Rib Steak, Market Steak, Beauty Steak, and when the bone is left in a Cowboy steak and Bone-in Rib Eye. Now when chefs start trimming you can also get the Filet of Rib, Eye of the Rib and the Chef cut Rib Eye. This is where they start trimming the meat down to make it special for their dish.
The Short Loin
The Short loin is after the Rib and before the Sirloin. The loin is where when boneless you get the Strip steak but has many names. The strip steak can be heavy marbled and very flavorful and a few can look like a Rib Eye because the Strips are the next cut. Here is another steak where you can get one the is a great experience but sometime the next one you get does not look like a strip and have some connective tissue in it. Generally you can get 7 1 inch steaks before the piece of connective tissue shows up and goes thru the next 7 steaks. When the bone in is left in these last steaks are called the Porterhouse Steak and they will have at least an inch and a quarter of the tenderloin attached. The Strip steak is also know as the NY Strip, Boneless Top Loin steak, Kansas City Steak, Hotel Steak, Boneless Club Steak, Ambassador Steak and the Veiny Steak. When the bone left in it is called, Bone-In Top Loin Steak, Country Club Steak, Club Steak, Bone-In Strip Steak, Shell Steak, T-Bone Steak and the Porterhouse Steak.
The Tenderloin is connected to the Short Loin and goes to the Sirloin from the underside. The tenderloin is the most tender of all but also lacks some flavor. This muscle does very little work and generally has no marbling but I have seen some tiny flecks. The tenderloin when cut in to steaks is where the Filet comes from and is called Filet Mignon when wrapped in bacon and a tenderloin steak when left by its self. Generally the filet is cut from the smaller end and the larger end left as a roast but the filet can also be cut from all of the tenderloin. The tenderloin is used for dishes like Carpaccio and Steak Tartare when raw or Beef Wellington and Beef Stoganoff because it is so tender.
The Sirloin is after the Short Loin and has steaks all of its own that are very hard to confuse with the look of other steaks. The Sirloin is marbled and very flavorful and tender but not as tender are the Rib Eye or Strip steaks. The Sirloin in divided into three different sections, Top Sirloin, Bottom Sirloin and the Sirloin roast. The Top Sirloin has the best of the cuts and is the tenderer of the two. The Top Sirloin's steaks are Center Cut Sirloin, Top Sirloin Steak, Sirloin Butt Steak and a Cowboy Steak. The Bottom Sirloin steaks are Tri-Tip steak, Bell Tip Steak, Ball Tip Steak and Sirloin Steak.
Steaks can be cut from just about anywhere on a bovine. A steak when you get down to it really a cut that is less than 2 inches and the purchaser determines where it is to come from. Most of the time steaks are know by what restaurants sell as steaks but here are several other steaks that people purchase but by no means the end of the list.
From the Chuck, Chuck Steaks, Blade steaks, Clod Steak, Arm Steak, Chuck-Eye steak, Mock Tender Steaks, Chuck Tender Steak and Chuck Filet Steak.
From the Round you have Round Steak, Bottom Round Steak, Eye of Round Steak and many more when you get in to the thinly sliced steaks.
Then you have steaks that are not really cut from a muscle because they are sold whole, Flank Steak, Skirt Steak and Hanger Steak. The hanger steak is the tender of the 3 and is also called the butcher steak because it is very tender and most of the time it goes in the ground beef, if the butcher does not buy it. I could go on and on but really I would rather grow grass, raise cattle and eat steaks than talk about it.