What is more delicious than a succulent, well-cooked steak?  Whether you’re planning to invite guests to a special dinner party or looking for a more modest mid-week dinner treat, the secret to getting it right is to understand the unique qualities of each cut of meat. This will make them easy to cook in ways that bring out the unique texture and taste of each one.  Here are 8 mouth-watering cuts you need to try.

Ribeye

A cowboy ribeye will make a spectacular centerpiece for any menu. The fact that the bone is left on does make the steak a little harder to cut, but part of the pleasure of eating one is accessing every last succulent piece of meat and fat to enjoy.  Whether you’re looking at prime bone-in ribeye, or prefer a cut with the bone removed, you should look for the rich marbling of fat, which gives each steak its delicious savory juiciness.  A second benefit of the high-fat content is that you can cook rib-eyes on high heat, over a barbeque, in the oven, or a cast-iron pan- they’ll still retain their tenderness and intense beefy flavor.  

Filet Mignon Aka Tenderloin

If what you value most in a cut of meat is its tenderness, then the filet mignon is for you. This smaller cut is usually the most expensive choice on a steakhouse menu. When cooked to medium or medium-rare perfection, its juices ooze out under the lightest touch of the fork.  The melting texture is because the filet is part of the tenderloin muscle, which is rarely exercised and doesn’t bear any of the animal’s weight.   As this cut has virtually no fat, the flavor is less intense than that which many steak aficionados love.  Typically, to prepare, the filet mignon is lightly pan-fried, in olive oil or butter, and seasoned lightly with salt and black pepper after cooking.  However, it’s also perfectly possible to ring in the changes and liven up the flavor with a variety of marinades or even some Asian-style sauces

Porterhouse

A porterhouse is easily confused with the iconic T-bone.  This huge steak will be between 1.25 and 3 inches thick, which gives it the mouth-watering juiciness connoisseurs love.  It consists of two distinct sections, separated by the T-shaped bone. The larger portion consists of strip steak (a very acceptable and versatile cut) and the smaller is the filet. The reason it can be tricky to cook a porterhouse to perfection is due to the different times required to cook the two different types of meat.  Also, the steak will shrink with the heat, and contact with the surface of the pan will be uneven. One approach is to start by frying the steak, then finish by placing it under the indirect heat of a grill.  This is quite a pricey cut, but if you’re looking for a true steak feast, this is the perfect choice for you.

T-Bone

T-bone steaks are famous for their tenderness. Like the Porterhouse, they provide two types of meat,  each with its distinct texture and flavor.  There’s a tenderloin on one side and a strip steak on the other. 

T-bones are typically between 1 and 2 inches thick, which means they’ll retain their juices and flavor when cooked at high temperatures, and finished with some indirect heat under a grill. As with the Porterhouse, the challenge is to cook each side to perfection, so if possible, the filet side should be kept away from the flames. 

Hanger

Hanger steak, also known as butcher’s steak or hanging tenderloin, is a cut of beef steak from the upper belly of the animal, which has become popular in restaurants over the last few years.   It’s now increasingly available in supermarkets and specialist butchers. With just the right degree of marbling, hangar steak is flavorsome, succulent, and relatively tender. Although the price has increased recently, it is still great value and more affordable than filet mignon.

Sirloin

While sirloins steaks aren’t as tender as some other steaks, they are valued for the amazing depth of flavor which isn’t found in other cuts.  Cooked to medium-rare perfection on the grill they provide a great balance of taste and tenderness.  Due to the lack of marbling, they tend to become tough and chewy if overcooked.

Because it comes from a muscular part of the animal, a sirloin will take a little longer to cook than other steaks.  If it’s an inch thick, you should expect it to take between 8 and 12 minutes.  Marinate first or simply coat in olive oil and spices before placing them on the grill. If you prefer a lean steak cut, sirloin is a great, and affordable choice, as it’s one of the lowest in fat.

Strip Steak

Strip steak comes from a part of the animal which isn’t particularly muscular, so it’s a tender cut that is generally between 1 and 2 inches thick. As mentioned above, it’s found on one side of the porterhouse and T-bone. It can be found in boneless or bone-in versions, with boneless being the slightly more expensive option.  However, it’s still great value and always a more affordable option than filets, ribeyes, and T-bones.

A simple grilling, with a coat of olive oil and some of your preferred spices, is all strip steaks need to reach tender, juicy perfection.  Another plus is that strip steak only need three or four minutes in a pan or over a grill, then maybe four minutes under indirect heat to finish them  So, if you’re in a hurry to eat, or want your steaks to be ready at the same time as other dishes, it’s easy to get the timing right. 

Flank Steak

Finally, if you’re concerned about fat, the humble flank steak can be a good choice as it’s a lean cut and there’s not much to remove.  It does have a fair amount of connective tissue, which can make it chewy,  so this affordable cut is best tenderized in a marinade before cooking.  Prepared correctly it can be extremely tender and flavorsome. It’s also perfect for steak sandwiches, stir-frys, and fajitas, or any mid-week treat.

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