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Choosing a Steak

Everyday Food, July/August 2005

Grilling the perfect steak starts with using the right cut of meat. These cuts are most tender when cooked quickly over dry heat, as opposed to long, moist cooking such as stewing. Any of them can also be cooked under the broiler or pan-fried on the stove.

Porterhouse and T-Bone

These similar steaks consist of two cuts, the top loin and the tenderloin (filet). The T-bone has a small filet (at least 1/2 inch thick); the porterhouse has a large filet (at least 1 1/4 inches thick). Although they are relatively expensive, each steak serves about 2 people.

Tenderloin (Filet Mignon)

This premium steak is generally considered the most tender. All it needs is a sprinkling of salt and pepper or herbs and spices before cooking.

Top Round

Because it is very lean, this inexpensive cut needs to be tenderized by marinating before cooking. After cooking, thinly slice the meat against the grain.

Top Blade (Flat Iron)

Despite its low cost, this steak has a nice beefy flavor and is surprisingly tender. Try it with a simple spice rub.

Flank Steak

It's very lean, so flank steak requires tenderizing; marinate before cooking, and thinly slice against the grain before serving.

Rib Eye

Also known as Delmonico (named for the famous New York City steakhouse), rib eye is a premium well-marbled steak with a pronounced beefy flavor.

Top Sirloin

Boneless, family-size sirloin is flavorful and cost-efficient. It does benefit from tenderizing, so marinate before grilling, and thinly slice against the grain.

Skirt Steak

This is the traditional steak for fajitas and is also delicious on its own or coated with a spice rub. Thinly slice on the diagonal before serving.

Top Loin (Strip)

Other common names for this meaty, well-marbled cut include Kansas City steak, New York strip, and shell steak (always sold without the bone).