The Ultimate Guide to Different Types of Steak

There’s something satisfying about indulging in a delicious steak dinner. However, with so many different cuts to choose from, it can be overwhelming to know which one to pick. Fear not! In this guide, we will explore the various types of steak and how to cook each cut to perfection.

What Makes a Steak Great?

Before we dive into the different cuts, let’s discuss what makes a great steak. The best steaks are tender, juicy, and well-marbled. The fat in the meat is a key component of its flavor. When it comes to beef quality, tenderness, juiciness, and flavor are carefully graded according to USDA standards.

The three main grades are:

  1. Prime grade: This comes from young, well-fed cows with abundant marbling. It is usually reserved for high-end restaurants.
  2. Choice grade: This is high-quality beef with less marbling than prime. It is commonly found in supermarkets.
  3. Select grade: This grade is leaner than the higher grades and offers a uniform level of quality.

The Best Cuts of Steak

The most sought-after and expensive cuts of steak come from the loin or rib section of the steer. These sections are divided into eight primal cuts, including the chuck, rib, loin, round, flank, short plate, brisket, and shank. Here are some of the best cuts of steak:

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Tenderloin

Known for its supreme tenderness, the tenderloin is a top choice for steak lovers.

Porterhouse and T-bone Steak

These cuts combine two prime cuts in one, with a T-shaped bone and a piece of tenderloin on one side and a strip of top loin steak on the other.

Ribeye

Ribeye steak is famous for its rich marbling, juiciness, and intense flavor.

New York Strip

This cut features a milder taste but is still incredibly flavorful and tender.

These are just a few examples of the best cuts of steak. To explore all the different options, check out the Beef Cuts Chart to easily navigate the choices at your local grocery store.

Different Types of Steak

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s explore the different types of beef steaks. Beef steaks are typically cut perpendicular to the muscle fibers from various sections of the cow.

1. Porterhouse / T-bone Steak

Porterhouse and T-bones are considered the kings of steaks due to their tenderness and flavor. They consist of a T-shaped bone, with a piece of tenderloin on one side and a strip of top loin steak on the other.

2. Filet Mignon (Tenderloin Steak)

Filet mignon is the most tender cut of beef. It comes from the short loin and has a buttery, mild flavor.

3. Ribeye

Also known as Delmonico steak or Scotch fillet, ribeye steaks are juicy, well-marbled, and extremely flavorful.

4. Tomahawk

Tomahawk steak is a bone-in ribeye with an impressive presentation. It is often cut over two inches thick and is renowned for its marbling and flavor.

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5. Chuck Eye Steak

Chuck eye steak, sometimes referred to as the “poor man’s ribeye,” shares many characteristics with its more expensive counterpart.

6. Flank Steak

Flank steak, located in the belly of the steer, is a lean and flavorful cut. Marinating can help tenderize this steak.

7. Skirt Steak

Skirt steak, often mistaken for flank steak, is a flavorful cut from the diaphragm muscles. It is perfect for dishes like fajitas.

8. Sirloin Steak

Sirloin steak, divided into top and bottom cuts, offers a range of options. Top sirloin is tasty and moderately marbled, while bottom sirloin is larger and tougher.

These are just a few of the many types of steak available. Each cut has its own unique characteristics and flavors, making the world of steak a truly enjoyable culinary adventure.

Cooking Different Types of Steak

The cooking method for each type of steak depends on its tenderness and marbling.

Tender cuts, such as porterhouse, T-bone, ribeye, and New York strip, are best cooked at high temperatures using dry heat methods like grilling, broiling, pan-frying, or baking.

Cuts with medium tenderness and marbling, like flank steak and skirt steak, benefit from marinating. They should be cooked at high temperature and limited to medium doneness.

Lean and tough cuts, such as round steak, require low-and-slow cooking methods like braising or slow-cooking to achieve tenderness.

Tips for Making Steak Tender and Juicy

Here are some tips to ensure your steak turns out tender and juicy:

  • Choose thicker steaks for maximum tenderness.
  • Allow steaks to come to room temperature before cooking.
  • Pat dry the steak before cooking to ensure a good sear.
  • Marinate tougher cuts to tenderize the meat.
  • Cook thick cuts with indirect heat and finish with direct high heat.
  • Use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature.
  • Let the steak rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting against the grain.
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Degrees of Steak Doneness

To achieve the desired level of doneness, use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature. Here is a general guide:

  • Rare (cool red center): Remove from heat at 125°F (52°C).
  • Medium-rare (warm red center): Remove from heat at 135°F (57°C).
  • Medium (warm pink center): Remove from heat at 145°F (63°C).
  • Medium-well (pale pink center): Remove from heat at 150°F (66°C).
  • Well done (little pink): Remove from heat at 160°F (71°C).

FAQ

  • What are the top five most tender steaks? According to Texas A&M Meat Science, the top five most tender steaks are filet mignon, ribeye, New York strip, T-bone, and Porterhouse.
  • What are some good side dishes for steak? Popular side dishes to serve with steak include potatoes, vegetables, and steak sauce. You can also pair it with Balsamic Brussels Sprouts, Steamed Broccoli, or Roasted Parsnips.
  • What should I look for when buying steaks? Look for fresh steak with bright red or purplish-red color and well-marbled meat. Ensure there is minimal moisture in the package, and check the grade and sell-by date.
  • What are the best wines to pair with steak? Cabernet Sauvignon, California Zinfandel, Malbec, Syrah, and Sangiovese are excellent choices. Chilled Rosé wine or bubbly Sparkling wine also pair well.

Now armed with this knowledge, you’re ready to explore the world of steak and savor the different cuts and flavors that await your taste buds. Happy grilling, pan-frying, or baking!