Shopping for steak can be tricky for those not familiar with the different names and cuts. If you visit the butchers, there will be a plethora of options for you to choose from. It’s tricky because there can be several names for the same type of steak (e.g. T-bone is also called Porterhouse, and Tenderloin is also referred to as Filet Mignon).
Steaks can be categorized based on two things, the grade and cut. The grade of steak mainly refers to the quality of the beef. Grading is usually done by a government regulatory body such as the USDA. They consider factors like age and marbling. Marbling refers to the swirling pattern of the meat. Meat with little marbling will contain less fat. Steak with little marbling will be leaner and healthier, so it is better for those on a healthy diet. However, extensive marbling means the steak is fatty, so it has more flavour but not as healthy.
Top grades of steak are sold at top quality restaurants and butchers, are usually quite expensive. Steak of lower grades aren’t normally available in food stores, instead they will most likely end up as animal by-products in items like pet food.
This is probably what you as a shopper would need to know the most about. The cut of the steak will influence things like the nutrients, flavour and texture of the meat and how it should be prepared and cooked. Simply put, the cut refers to which area of the cow the meat comes from.
The chuck is derived from the shoulder region of the cow, just above the area which gives us brisket (just above the front leg). These areas will have plenty of connective tissue which makes for a flavourful steak with a chewy texture.
The rib is the region just behind the chuck or shoulder region. The rib is basically the upper back of the cow, just above its stomach. This is the region where some of the well-known steaks like the rib-eye steak comes from. The meat in this region has a lot of marbling, meaning plenty of connective tissue. As a result, the meat is tender and full of flavour.
Rib-eye steak is also known as Scotch fillet, Delmonico or Entrecote. It is derived from the upper rib cage of the cow. This steak is characterised by the extensive marbling pattern seen in the rib area in general. One of the best recipes for ribeye steak is one we’ve seen on Argyle Butchers Meat Delivery Heavy marbling means that it is one of the fattiest and tastiest of all the steak cuts. You can use a variety of methods to cook it over high heat, including grilling, broiling, and pan searing.
Moving further back from the rib area is the loin region of the cow. This region is home to the most tender and also the priciest of the steak cuts.
This is one of the most well-known steaks from the loin region. T-bone steaks are similar to Porterhouse steaks (the main difference is that Porterhouse steaks contain a larger area of the tenderloin). T-bone steaks are sold with a T-shaped bone (and hence the name) that runs across the cut with two types of steak on either side of the bone (tenderloin and strip steak). The T-bone steaks also have good marbling on them.
T-bone steaks will give you a mix of textures and flavours. It is a beautiful mix of juiciness, tenderness and butteriness. When cooking, the tenderloin will heat up faster than the strip steak due to its higher fat content. So, try to cook the strip steak first.