Yes, we realize that it’s Tuesday but it’s Monday for anyone that had a long weekend (which definitely wasn’t us) so we thought it was fitting. 🙂 For this week’s “Meat the Press Mondays” we wanted to introduce you to the cuts of steak we utilize at our Argentinean steakhouse. We will continue to branch out and introduce you to other cuts as well as preparation techniques, cooking tips, etc as the weeks go on.
The different steaks that we will be discussing today are: Filet Mignon, NY Sirloin, Boneless Ribeye, Skirt Steak, Top Sirloin, and Shortrib Strip. We are going to discuss some of their traits as they relate to grilling. But remember, these steaks do not have to be cut as steaks at all and can be cooked in an almost infinite number of ways other than grilling.
Filet Mignon – The most tender (tenderloin), lean and, most often served the rarest. This steak comes from one of the least used muscles on the cow, which is why it is so tender. A filet mignon is typically cylindrical in shape. It is a pricey cut and the average portion size is only about 8oz. The reason for this is due to its tenderness, leanness, and the amount of interior area relative to exterior. This is a great steak for those who love ruby red rare. On the other hand, while this steak is praised for its leanness and tenderness, this also means that there will be less flavor from fat.
NY Sirloin – Perhaps the most classic cut of steak, this steak has a fairly firm texture and a good amount of fat content for flavor without being too fatty or having a lot of grizzle. This steak is typically served in 12oz portions approximately 1″ thick. However, the size and thickness can vary greatly depending on the butcher. Generally this steak is served with something of a fatcap on one side which is done to maintain its shape while cooking and preserve moisture. A NY Sirloin is a great all around grilling steak for any temperature from rare to well. A suggested way to enjoy this steak is to take small bits of the fatcap, with each bite of lean steak, for added depth of flavor.
Ribeye – The favorite of many serious steak lovers. This steak is seen in many forms and sizes, from grilled delmonicos, to roasted prime ribs, and is great both on and off the bone. This steak has a soft texture, a lot of flavor, and is subsequently quite fatty. The fat in a ribeye is streaked throughout the steak, which helps the fat’s flavor to permeate into the beef when cooked. Those who prefer a rare ribeye will find the fat a little chewy and dense, but when allowed to cook a bit above rare (not too much) the fat becomes more tender and is more easily enjoyed along with bites of the steak. For those who prefer a lean steak but still want to eat ribeye, just ask your butcher/server/chef for a leaner cut. Within every whole ribeye there are approximately three or four fairly lean portions to be had for every eight or nine fatty ones. Since ribeye is typically sought after for its fattiness, lean cuts are regarded as inferior and should be fairly easy to obtain.
Skirt Steak – The favorite of many serious chefs, it is the outside skirt steak that is most commonly used for grilling. This steak is extremely flavorful, tender, and has a lot of easily edible fat. It is a long and thin steak, typically around 10oz, and less than half an inch thick. There is a very obvious, visable “grain” to this steak, and in between each grain are very thin layers of delicate edible fat which tenderize when cooked. This steak can be tough if served too rare but when done just a bit above rare, it is like butter. In our restaurant a skirt steak that is slow cooked to medium rare-medium, over the end of the night coals, is referred to as “bacon steak”… enough said! 🙂 There is a correct way to eat skirt steak that we want to teach you: Cut the steak into quarters with the grain, then cut thin bite sized slices against the grain. This will be a much more tender and easier to chew, especially if yours is cooked on the rare side.
Top Sirloin aka: top butt – Top Sirloin is a round, large lean, yet grizzly steak with a subtle yet unmistakeably classic, beefy flavor. It is typically (at least as related to Argentine cuisine) cut very thinly against its natural grain. This is a steak with a lot of surface area and for that reason it is best cooked quickly to preserve moisture and juiciness. There is a natural seam of fat that runs down the center of this steak which separates a few different muscle types, each with different textures. Not an especially expensive steak but high yielding in numbers of portions per side. This is a favorite steak of many Spanish steak lovers in the form known in our restaurant as Churascos. In our restaurant it is served simply with rice and a flavorful chimmichuri sauce.
Shortrib Strips – These are classically Argentine. They are steaks cut against the bone with each strip having about three or four cross cut bone segments inside. The bone segments in this steak are surrounded by connective tissue that is broken down when cooked and for that reason this steak, as related to grilling, will be more tender at medium or above. There is a great flavor to these steaks from the charring of the bones, the richness of the subtle flavor of the marrow, and the fatty, gelatinous flavor of the cooked connective tissue. All of this permeates the meat to produce a harmonious combination of multiple types of meaty flavors. This steak is also very fun to eat if you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty and really get in there. Eat your shortribs like a proper steak until you get all the way past most of the meat surrounding a bone segment then just cut it off the strip, pick it up and have at the bits of meat between the bones. Enjoy the snappy, chewy, deliciousness of the surrounding connective tissue.