Our Choice of Prime Cuts of Steak
The tenderloin comes from the back, rear portion of the steer, under the ribcage and near the kidneys. The muscle does very little work and so it is highly prized as a particularly tender cut of beef.
It is often sold at a higher price than the surrounding cuts of meat. This is simply because each steer produces a relatively small amount of tenderloin in relation to the other cuts of meat.
New York Strip
The New York Strip is also prized for its tenderness. It comes from the strip loin that surrounds the tenderloin just under the ribcage in the rear part of the animal’s back. It is much larger than the tenderloin and can be cut into much larger portions if need be.
This steak is also a bit of a chameleon. It’s referred to as a T-bone or Porterhouse cut when the bone is left on it and a piece of the tenderloin is attached. These are the names it’s commonly referred to in Australia and New Zealand. It’s also sometimes referred to as a Top Sirloin steak in the U.S.
The rib eye steak comes from the central rib area of the animal. They are mainly composed of the longissimus dorsi muscle and to a lesser extent, the complexus and spinalis muscles.
They are generally sold with a short section of bone left attached. Rib eye steaks are both tender and flavourful, with a high amount of marbling. They come from an area of muscles that are not highly worked, which accounts for the cut’s tenderness. The high degree of marbling makes the steak ideal for hot and fast cooking.
A T-bone steak is from the front of the short loin area of the animal. They contain a small piece of the tenderloin, which is generally the smaller piece of meat on the side of the ‘T’. The name comes from the custom of leaving in the t-shaped bone. There is very little difference between the T-bone and the Porterhouse steak. The T-bone steak is generally a little smaller but just as tender and flavourful.
A Porterhouse steak is cut from the back area of the short loin. Like the T-bone it has the bone left in. But the Porterhouse has a greater amount of the prized tenderloin and is often larger as a whole. The USDA requirements also specify that a Porterhouse steak must be at least 1.25” (about 35 mm) thick at its widest point. This tends to make Porterhouse steaks some of the largest cuts of steak served.
The sirloin steak is typically referring to the Bottom Sirloin or the muscle right underneath the tenderloin. The sirloin steak, while just as flavourful as the tenderloin, is considerably leaner than the other steaks of the short loin and not quite as tender.
Yet, a sirloin steak from a high-quality variety of animal can produce just as tender a steak as a better cut from a lower-quality animal.
Also referred to as a ‘bone-in rib eye’ or a ‘cowboy steak’, the main draw of the tomahawk steak is its size and presentation. It’s actually a rib eye steak of which the butcher has left a sizable portion of the bone. The bone is stripped of meat leaving the ‘handle’ of the tomahawk.
A tomahawk steak is often a thicker cut of steak than the average rib eye steak, so they often provide enough steak to easily satisfy two people sharing the entrée.