Need to beef up your knowledge of the best steak cuts before your next trip to the meat section of the supermarket? Follow this guide for some rare — and well done — advice.
Every delicious steak you’ve ever enjoyed eating started with a good cut of meat. But picking that perfect cut can be overwhelming — supermarkets are flooded with options, and it’s not as straightforward as simply choosing the one with the highest price tag. Each cut has different qualities, and the right cut for you will rarely be the most expensive one.
That’s a good thing, of course — as long as you know what to look for.
The best cuts of beef for steak
Can’t decide between the sirloin and the eye fillet? Well, why not both? The T-bone is cut with striploin on one side of a t-shaped bone, and an eye fillet on the other side. It’s the perfect choice for people who don’t like to choose.
With two very different textures and flavors — the tenderness of the fillet on one side, and the juiciness of the sirloin on the other side — the T-bone offers the best of both worlds. It does tend to be on the higher end of the price spectrum, however, and since you’re essentially cooking two different types of steak at the same time, it can also be more difficult to cook. Generally, the fillet will cook faster than the sirloin, because it has less fat, and on either side, the meat closer to the bone will be slower to cook than the rest of the steak.
It all adds up to make the T-bone a great choice next time you’re at your local steakhouse, but a challenge for novice chefs.
Entrecôte is the French word for a beef steak cut from between the ribs; in other words, a thin, boneless rib-eye. This makes a good cut for quick cooking in a skillet or on the grill or for portion control as it’s typically half the thickness of a bone-in rib-eye.
The beef rib primal represents the forequarter of a side of beef, cut from just behind the beef chuck and containing the sixth through the twelfth ribs.
A butcher can cut seven thick bone-in rib-eyes from a primal. However, there’s meat between the bones as well, so if the butcher cuts thinner bone-in rib-eyes flush with the bone on each side, there will also be six boneless steaks left from the meat between each bone-in rib-eye. These steaks are the entrecôtes.
A thick-cut boneless rib-eye is technically not an entrecôte, because butchers cut these from a boneless rib roast. This allows them to cut steaks of any desired thickness but does not distinguish the intercostal meat.
At one time, the word entrecôte referred specifically to steaks that came from the center of the rib primal, between the ninth and tenth ribs, and the tenth and eleventh ribs. This meant there were just two entrecôtes available from each side of beef, giving the cut a mysterious yet wholly arbitrary allure.
This is known as the butchers’ steak of choice and today I want to tell you why…
For a kick-off, this is the steak to choose for maximum flavor. It’s heavily marbled, and as we know, the fat is where the flavor is, so this steak has a really rich and beefy taste.
Where does it come from?
Before we can cut any steaks, we first have to break down the rib area of the carcass, eventually leaving us with the Ribeye Roll. We prepare this cut from the Forerib which is located in front of the Sirloin, on top of the Hindquarter Flank, and directly next to the Middle Rib. When we are butchering this joint, the blade bone cartilage, associated muscles, gristle, external fat covering, and flank are all removed to leave only the best Ribeye meat, in one neat and tidy whole roasting cut. Once it has been trimmed, only the main ‘eye’ muscle remains and it becomes clear to see from its cross-section that it is from this point where the Ribeye Steaks are cut.
Fat & Flavor
As I’ve already mentioned, fat is responsible for a lot of the rich flavor in a Ribeye. Understandably, lots of us are very conscious about our diet and fat intake, and this often steers us in the direction of an alternative steak cut such as the leaner Fillet or the less marbled Sirloin.
But…as the dieticians never tire of telling us, “everything in moderation”, so providing you’re not scoffing food from your local takeaway every night of the week, or like me, are fitting in a weekly game of football, a wee bit of fat in its natural form is fine, so there is absolutely nothing wrong with a good old Ribeye every now and again!
Another massive factor in the flavor of our Ribeyes, as with all our steaks, is our dry-aging process.
We mature our Ribeye Steaks on the bone, for up to 28 days in a temperature and humidity-controlled maturation room. Allowing the beef to mature in this way does make the whole process more expensive, as up to 8-10% of the beef is lost through having to trim off the outer surfaces at the end of the maturation time. However, we feel the results are well worth this loss for the guaranteed tenderness, fantastic flavor, and brilliant eating quality you only get from meat that’s been aged properly in this traditional way.
Beef tenderloin is widely regarded as the most tender cut of beef, and it’s certainly the most expensive. It’s a portion of the ever-popular T-bone or porterhouse steak, and the upscale filet mignon comes from it as well. These tender steaks do well with a quick stove-top sear before getting finished in the oven. You can also cook a whole tenderloin or divide it into smaller roasts.
The beef tenderloin is an oblong muscle called the psoas major, which extends along the rear portion of the spine, directly behind the kidney, from about the hip bone to the thirteenth rib. It doesn’t get much exercise, which is why the meat is so tender. It’s encased in a thick layer of crumbly fat known as kidney fat or suet, which can be used in much the same way as lard.
A smaller, very skinny muscle called the psoas minor, commonly referred to as the chain, runs the length of the tenderloin and is often (but not always) removed before the tenderloin makes it to the meat case. At the other end there’s another muscle, the iliacus, sometimes called the side muscle or wing muscle.
Osso Buco Steak
Osso Buco refers to both an iconic Milanese dish, and the cut of meat that’s used to make it. It translates literally as ‘bone with a hole, which is actually a fairly accurate description. You see, the cut is a cross-section of a shank, cut straight across so that it includes chunky meat around a slice of bone. But the hole is not empty space – oh no; it’s packed with that most lovely of treats, bone marrow, which adds a fantastic richness to the finished meal!
The Milanese specialty involves braising the Osso Buco with vegetables, and stock, and serving it with saffron risotto. The older version of the dish is simply flavored with cinnamon and bay leaves, and served with a tangy gremolata – lemon, garlic, anchovies, and parsley, all minced up together. A slightly newer version includes tomatoes, carrots, and celery. Both of these traditionally use veal as the meat, although other meats can sometimes be used as well – here at Donald Russell, we sell Veal, Venison, and Pork versions of Osso Buco. It’s a gorgeous recipe and one which I thoroughly recommend you take the time to prepare one day!
A large Rib Steak with the full rib bone left on, this cut looks like something out of The Flintstones, and will feed any ravenous Neolithic carnivore, or two or three more modern humans!
Our Tomahawk Steak is a large, dramatic bone-in steak with a big, rich flavor to match. This succulent rib cut already has all the flavor of on-the-bone rib, but when you cook it by pan-to-oven roasting, or on the barbecue, the extra flavors will come out of the bone and boost the rich mellow sweetness of this cut to a whole other level.
There are two simple methods we recommend to give you a beautifully tender, succulent Tomahawk Steak, and it’s surprisingly easy to carve and serve too.
Allow plenty of time for defrosting. Always leave in wrapping and thaw out slowly in your refrigerator. Ensure the product is thoroughly defrosted before cooking.
2. Bring to Room Temperature
Carefully remove the meat from the packaging and pat dry with kitchen paper. Allow 20 minutes to bring to room temperature, so the meat will cook more evenly and remain juicy.
3. Cooking Temperatures and Times
Follow the simple guidelines below. Take care not to overcook the meat as this will make it dry and tough.
|Pan to oven||Searing time per side||Then oven roast at 230ºC/Gas 8||Resting Time||Approx total cooking time|
|Rare||8-10 mins||22-24 mins||10 mins||40 mins|
|Medium||8-10 mins||30-32 mins||10 mins||50 mins|
|Well Done||8-10 mins||36-38 mins||10 mins||55 mins|
|Barbeque*||Cooking time 1st Side||Cooking time 2nd Side||Resting Time||Approx total cooking time|
|Rare to Well Done**||10-15 mins||5-10 mins||10-20 mins||25-45 mins|
*Barbecues vary dramatically in temperature and quality of heat; please use your own judgment as these are approximate guidelines only.
** Please check if cooked to your liking by using The Press Test or a meat thermometer.
Once the steak is cooked to your liking, leave it in a warm place to rest. This allows the meat to relax and become moist and tender all the way through.
Hold the bone with one hand and slice along its length to cleave the meat from the bone. Slice the meat across the grain into slices as thick as you like, season with salt and pepper, and serve with your favorite salads, homemade chips, onion rings, and béarnaise sauce. Alternatively, for a real caveman experience, serve still on the bone!