A simple primer to understanding steak

Published August 02, 2012

| Gayot

A Simple Primer to Understanding Steak

Wagyu, Angus or Piedmontese beef? Porterhouse, shell or flatiron steak? These days, going to a steakhouse is much more complicated than in the days when you chose from a New York strip, rib eye or filet mignon.

We'll leave it to the cattlemen and women to sort out which is the best cut of steak. Meanwhile, we'll take the bull by the horns and sort out all the terminology. Learn more about beef labeling

STEAK CUTS

Picture the side of the steer. Starting at the neck and working down the backbone, you have the chuck, then the rib, followed by the short loin and sirloin and ending with the rump. The side section is the flank. Those areas produce the following steaks:

Chateaubriand: A piece of the tenderloin (the pointed end of the short loin), sized to feed two or more people and traditionally roasted.

Delmonico: A boneless cut from the rib section, named after the 19th century New York restaurant that popularized this dish.

Filet mignon: Think French! The name of this cut translates as tenderloin and it is the tapered, fork-tender end of the short loin.

Flank steak: A lean cut of meat taken from the underbelly that grills quickly. This cut often is used for fajitas.

Flatiron steak: Cut from the top blade, so named because it resembles a flatiron.

Hanger steak: Also called the hanging tenderloin, this cut is part of the diaphragm that hangs between the ribs and the loin.

London Broil: A large cut from the flank, often marinated to tenderize it, then broiled and served thinly sliced.

New York strip: A steak by many other names…(such as shell steak, Kansas City strip or sirloin club steak): The marbled, larger end of the short loin. Check out the Top 10 Steakhouses in New York City  

Porterhouse: Essentially the T-bone's big brother, combining two steaks in one, the New York and the filet.

Prime rib: The bone-in rib steak, cut from ribs six through twelve, that often contains a bit of gristle but is full of flavor.

Rib-eye: A rib steak without the bone; prized among steak lovers for its marbling and flavor.

Sirloin steak: Sitting between the short loin and the rump steak is the sirloin, less tender than the short loin but still full-flavored. Learn more about grades of beef

T-bone: Similar cut as the Porterhouse, only the filet side is usually a bit smaller. Named for the t-shaped bone running down the center of the steak.

Tri-tip: Also known as a culotte steak or triangle steak, the tri-tip is a triangular-shaped portion of top sirloin.

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