Whether it's tossed with pasta, fresh from the grill, sliced into a sandwich or just sitting in its own glorious juices, steak is something we can’t help but love. But do you know the critical properties of some of the most popular cuts of steak? You should. Grab your steak knife and get ready to take a beefy trip to steak enlightenment.
The skirt steak is actually the cow’s diaphragm muscle, and because it works so hard to help it breathe, it can actually be quite chewy. This type of steak is best eaten when tenderized and dosed in delicious marinade.
Great for: Fajitas, stir fry or topped with Chimichurri sauce and sitting next to some rice, beans and fried plantains.
Hanger steak got its name because it hangs between the cow’s tenderloin and rib. It is a somewhat tender piece of beef, but can easily become tough if overcooked. It’s great when marinated and cooked quickly over high heat on a cast iron skillet or on the grill.
Great for: “Steak frites” at your local bistro.
Also known as: Bistro steak
Top sirloin is one of the more affordable cuts of steak. It has good flavor, but is lean and not particularly tender. It is often marinated and pounded to tenderize it, and can be cooked in a variety of ways.
Great for: Shish kebobs or served in a pita with hummus and vegetables.
This is a very lean cut of steak. As such, both effort (marinating and pounding it) and restraint (not overcooking it) is required not only to make it palatable, but also delicious. The flank steak grills well and is great when sliced thin.
Great for: Philly cheesesteaks, fajitas, stir fry.
This is a very tender steak that makes for a very good strip steak alternative when it is sliced nice and thin. It can be grilled (just like a hanger steak) or broiled.
Great for: Grilling and serving with vegetables, using in stir fry or fajitas.
Also known as: Top blade or petite tender.
The strip is a rich, fatty cut with full flavor. If you enjoy the almighty porterhouse, then you’ll like this too, because it’s actually the non-filet part of it.
Great for: A steak dinner with mashed potatoes, vegetables and buttered rolls.
Also known as: The New York strip, shell, strip loin or Kansas City strip steak.
This is the other part of the porterhouse. It is less fatty than most cuts of meat and has less flavor, but due to the fact that it is not a non weight-bearing, seldom-used muscle, it is the most tender cut found on the entire cow. It is often wrapped in bacon or lathered in butter before being cooked to retain as much juiciness and flavor as possible.
Great for: Eating on a parsley garnished platter with bacon, béarnaise sauce and mushrooms.
Also known as: Beef tenderloin.
Bonus: Filet mignon in French means “cute” or “dainty” filet.
Cut from the same area as the prime rib, the rib-eye is a well-marbled cut of steak, which makes it rich, juicy and beefy. It can be thrown on the grill, the broiler, or the pan for a nice sear with delicious results.
Great for: A classic steak dinner or sliced thin in a sandwich.
Also known as: The Delmonico, Rib or Cowboy Steak.
The porterhouse is actually two steaks in one and any good steakhouse will proudly serve it. The T-shaped bone (yep, T-Bone is just a slightly smaller version of the porterhouse) divides the strip steak and the filet mignon. Due to the steak’s large bone, searing it in the pan can prove difficult, so grilling or broiling is the preferred cooking method. There is no doubt about it – the porterhouse is the king of steaks.
Great for: Eating with nothing but its own juices.