Beef Loin Cuts
The loin yields the most tender and expensive cuts of beef--but not the most flavorful. The choicest portion is the tenderloin, which is exquisitely tender and lean. The top loin and sirloin aren't as tender, but they're a bit more flavorful. Cuts from the loin require very little work to taste great. Indeed, steak lovers consider it almost a sacrilege to marinate them, or to cook them beyond medium rare.
club steak Notes: Think of this as a T-bone steak without any of the choice tenderloin muscle in it. These steaks are sometimes also called Delmonico steaks, though that name is more often used for rib-eye steaks. To add to the confusion, rib steaks are sometimes called club steaks. Substitutes: strip steak OR rib steak (not as lean or tender)
coulotte steak = culotte steak = culottes steak = top sirloin cap steak Notes: This is a small, boneless steak cut from the sirloin. It's got good flavor, but it's a bit tougher than other steaks so you might want to marinate before cooking it. Substitutes: sirloin steak
filet mignon = tenderloin steak = fillet steak = fillet de boeuf = tender steak Pronunciation: fee-lay mee-NYOH Plural: filets mignons Notes: These are cut from the tenderloin, and they're the most tender steaks you can buy, though not the most flavorful. American butchers usually call all tenderloin steaks filets mignons, but the French reserve the name for just the cuts at the small end of the tenderloin, which is the best part. As they move away from the filet mignon, the French call their cuts tournedos, filet steak, châteaubriand, and bifteck. American butchers confuse matters even more by sometimes calling top sirloin steaks châteaubriands. Don't marinate these steaks and don't cook them beyond medium rare. Substitutes: top sirloin steaks (larger) OR Porterhouse steaks
minute steak Notes: In some parts of the country, a minute steak is a small, thinly sliced, boneless sirloin steak. In others, it's a thinly sliced eye of round steak. In still others, it's a cube steak. Substitutes: filet mignon (thinly sliced) OR cube steak OR strip steak
Porterhouse steak Notes: Many believe these to be the best of all steaks. They include parts of two muscles: the flavorful top loin and the buttery soft tenderloin. It's best to grill or broil them without marinating. Substitutes: T-bone steak (Very similar, but not quite as tender) OR club steak OR rib steak OR strip steak
roast beef Notes: Several cuts are well suited to oven roasting. The most elegant choice is a tenderloin roast, which is lean and tender, but very expensive. A rib roast (sometimes called a prime rib roast) isn't as lean and tender, but it's juicier and more flavorful. A good compromise between the two would be a rib-eye roast, which is basically a boneless, low-fat rib roast. Other candidates for roast beef are a top loin roast, top sirloin butt roast, tri-tip roast, round tip roast, and rump roast. Don't assume that anything with "roast" in its name will work as roast beef. Some roasts are intended for pot roast recipes, for it takes hours of cooking in a liquid to make them tender enough for civilized consumption.
short loin Notes: The loin is divided into two main parts: the short loin, which includes the choice tenderloin and top loin, and the sirloin, which lies closer to the rump. Since the muscles in the short loin don't get much of a workout, the meat there is very tender.
sirloin steak Notes: The sirloin is near the rump, so the meat's a bit tougher than cuts from the loin or the rib. There are several different sirloin steak cuts, named for shape of the hip bone that's left in them. Going from fore to aft, there's the tender but bony pin bone sirloin, which is right next to the Porterhouse on the carcass, the flat bone sirloin, the round bone sirloin, and finally the wedge bone sirloin, which is closest to the rump and therefore least tender. A boneless sirloin steak is sometimes called a rump steak = butt steak. Sirloin steaks are usually grilled or broiled. Don't overcook them or they'll lose much of their flavor. Substitutes: round steak OR top sirloin steak OR flank steak OR T-bone steak OR strip steak OR Porterhouse steak
T-bone steak Notes: Named for its distinguishing T-shaped bone, this choice cut is almost identical to a Porterhouse steak, only it doesn't have as much of the tenderloin muscle in it. It's usually grilled or broiled. Substitutes: Porterhouse steak (a bit more tender) OR club steak (a bit less tender) OR sirloin steak OR strip steak OR rib eye steak
tenderloin roast = whole tenderloin roast = tenderloin tip roast = filet mignon roast Notes: This is the most tender portion of the entire carcass, and you'll pay dearly for it. You can cut it into steaks, or make a heavenly roast beef out of it. Take care not to overcook it, because it dries out easily. Substitutes: rib-eye roast (less tender and expensive) OR rib roast OR top loin OR top sirloin butt roast
top loin = strip loin Equivalents: One whole top loin = two half top loins = 10 - 15 pounds. Notes: These are usually cut into top loin steaks, but a whole or half top loin is also a good candidate for roast beef. Substitutes: tenderloin roast OR rib-eye roast OR rib roast OR top sirloin butt roast OR tri-tip roast
top loin steak = strip steak = New York steak = New York sirloin steak = Kansas City steak = contrefilet = strip loin steak = New York strip steak = Kansas City strip steak = hotel steak = hotel cut strip steak = ambassador steak = club sirloin steak = strip sirloin steak Notes: Think of these as Porterhouse or T-bone steaks that have been stripped of the choice tenderloin portion. They're flavorful and fairly expensive cuts. A boneless top loin steak is called a shell steak, and a very thick shell steak is sometimes called a shell roast. Substitutes: club steak OR sirloin steak OR T-bone steak OR Porterhouse steak
top sirloin butt roast Notes: This is a good cut for making roast beef. Substitutes: rib-eye roast OR tenderloin roast (the very best cut for roast beef, but very expensive) OR rib roast OR top loin
top sirloin steak Notes: Some top sirloin steaks are wonderfully juicy and flavorful but others are mediocre, so this is a risky steak to buy. Don't confuse this with an ordinary sirloin steak, which includes a bone. American butchers call a thick top sirloin steak a chateaubriand, although the French reserve that term for a much better cut from the tenderloin. Substitutes: flank steak OR tri-tip toast
tri-tip roast = tri tip roast = triangle-tip roast = beef loin tri-tip roast = sirloin tri-tip roast Notes: This is a very flavorful cut that's great for barbecuing as long as you take pains to keep the meat from getting too tough. The trick is to not trim the fat until the roast is cooked so that the juices can tenderize the meat. When it's done, slice it thinly against the grain. This cut is popular in California, but you might have trouble finding it elsewhere. A steak cut from this roast is called a tri-tip steak. Substitutes: shell roast
tri-tip steak Notes: These steaks are cut from a tri-tip roast. Substitutes: sirloin steak OR flank steak
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