8 Different Types of Steak and How to Cook Them
The perfect steak starts with the right cut. But trying to pick out a steak at your grocery store's butcher counter can be all sorts of intimidating. Let's change that. Here you'll learn about eight different types of steak cuts and how to cook them correctly.
The High-End Steakhouse Cuts
Let's start with some high-end steakhouse cuts. They're some of the best steaks for grilling. These tender steaks are pricey. For the most part, they need very little adornment. Some salt and a hot grill, and these steaks are melt-in-the-mouth scrumptious.
1. Ribeye (aka Delmonico, Spencer, Entrecote)
Either bone-in or boneless, a ribeye is essentially a thick slice of prime rib served as a steak. Lots of flavorful marbling with a very meaty flavor, the ribeye is a prime candidate for quick, high-heat cooking on the grill or skillet.
- Salt and Pepper Ribeye Steak: The key to this recipe is to salt the ribeyes generously and let them "brine" for two days in the fridge. Then bring them to room temperature before searing in a hot cast-iron skillet. "Salting the steaks for two days brines the steak, helps tenderize them, and adds rich flavor," states the recipe page.
- Italian Ribeye: This recipe calls for boneless ribeyes. The steaks marinate for an hour in a wet rub made with Italian herbs, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. Then it's off to the hot grill.
- More Ribeye Steak Recipes
2. New York Strip (aka Top Loin, Strip Steak, Kansas City Strip)
Shaped vaguely like Manhattan, the strip is a boneless steak with some fat marbling and typically a strip of fat along one long edge. Tender with good meaty flavor, the New York Strip is one of the best steaks for the high heat of the grill or a high-heat sear-to-broiler method.
- Manhattan Filet with Pan Sauce Bordelaise: "This simple technique not only provides you with a NY strip steak that eats like a filet mignon, but the trimmings are used to make a world-class pan sauce," says Chef John. "The overnight 'dry-aging' step is optional, but does add a little something extra to the final product."
- Thyme-Rubbed Steaks with Sautéed Mushrooms: New York strip steaks are pan-fried and served with a rich mushroom, shallot, and wine sauce.
- More Strip Steak Recipes
3. Filet Mignon (aka Tenderloin, Chateaubriand)
Filet mignon is a lean, boneless steak from the smaller end of the tenderloin – the small, more adorable end, apparently, because "mignon" means "cute" in French. Chateaubriand is from the thicker end of the tapering tenderloin. In many cases, chateaubriand refers to the whole tenderloin cooked as a roast, whereas the filet mignon is the tenderloin cut into individual steaks. Any way you slice it, these steaks are very tender and, because they don't have much fat marbling, mild in flavor. A nice thick filet mignon is a great candidate for stovetop-to-oven cooking.
- Filet Mignon with Mushroom-Cabernet Gravy: "I love pan-searing because it gives the filet mignon steaks that beautiful color and crust on the outside and leaves them so tender inside!" says the recipe submitter. "And because of the influence of my husband's French grandmother, I love to cook anything with wine!"
- Filet Mignon with Rich Balsamic Glaze: Quickly sear the steaks in a hot skillet, then sizzle the pan with equal parts of balsamic vinegar and red wine, cover, and braise briefly to create a wonderful glaze.
- More Filet Mignon Recipes
4. T-Bone or Porterhouse
The Big Fella. This bone-in steak includes both the strip and tenderloin parts of the steak. Technically, it's called a porterhouse if the tenderloin is at least 1 1/4-inches wide. If it's at least 1/2-inch wide (but less than 1 1/4-inches), it's a T-bone. Either way, T-bones and porterhouse steaks are essentially two steaks in one, so they require some care in cooking. If you can work it, cook the strip part directly over the flames with the tenderloin portion extending into a less hot part of the grill.
- Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Tuscan Porterhouse): This flagship, Tuscan steak is made from the region's Chianina breed of cattle which are prized for their tenderness and flavor. In typical Italian style, simplicity rules the day; little more than olive oil, rosemary, and salt are needed to highlight the rich flavor of the grilled meat.
- Rock's T-Bone Steaks: This T-bone gets a quick rubdown before spending some time on the hot grill. "This seasoning makes any steak awesome. It doesn't overpower the steak," says the recipe submitter.
- Chef John's Chimichurri Sauce: Here it is, the famous Argentinean sauce for grilled steaks. Herbs and garlic are whirled in a blender with olive oil and white wine vinegar to create a tangy, spicy, decidedly green-colored condiment.
The Cheaper Cuts
Now for the dirty little secret about steaks. The "tougher" cuts are often more flavorful. By comparison, think of it like the dark meat of chicken. The dark meat comes from muscles that worked for a living (thighs, drumsticks); as a result, the darker meat develops more flavor than the white breast meat of a flightless bird.
Likewise, these cuts of steak are from parts of the steer that saw some action. True, they're not as tender as the high-end steaks, which had a comparatively cushy existence, but the tougher cuts make up for it in flavor and economy.
5. Hanger Steak (aka Butcher's Steak)
This lean steak is very flavorful. A great steak for marinating or wet-rubbing and then grilling over high heat. Note: wipe off oily marinades before grilling – or else it's inferno time.
- Grilled Hanger Steak with a Roasted Shallot Port Demi Sauce: Grill the steaks until the meat starts to firm up, about 2 minutes per side. They should be reddish-pink and juicy in the center.
- Parisian-Style Steak Frites: A classic bistro-style steak. "Known as steak-frites," explains the recipe submitter "thin slices of hanger steak are covered in the most addictive herb butter sauce."
- Jang Jorim with Hard-Boiled Eggs (Korean Soy Beef Strips): In this Korean preparation, hanger steak is simmered, along with peeled hard-boiled eggs, in a broth of soy sauce, water, green chile peppers, onions, garlic, rice wine, and red chile pepper.
6. Tri-Tip Steak (aka Santa Maria Steak)
Another very lean cut with a flavor that's milder than the hanger steak. Rub 'em down with seasonings and toss on the grill.
- Easy Grilled Tri-Tip: "A great way to quickly grill large cuts of tri-tip beef," states this recipe. "You can even make it on a busy weeknight. I've also made this for BBQ parties. It's better than buying a bunch of steaks!"
- Carne Asada Sandwich: Thin slices of tri-tip steak are seasoned with chile peppers and spices and cooked in a Dutch oven with onions and bell peppers. Top these Mexican-inspired sandwiches with melted cheese, avocado, cherry tomatoes, and cilantro.
- Santa Maria Grilled Tri-Tip Beef: Tri-tip is a great cut for this kind of high-heat grilling. The meat gets a simple dry rubbing; as it cooks, it's basted with a garlic, mustard, vegetable oil, and red wine vinegar sauce.
VIDEO: How To Grill a Tri-Tip Steak
Watch Chef John prep and grill a California classic, the Santa Maria tri-tip. The trick to grilling the tri-tip is getting the signature caramelized crust. The outside is charred almost black, while the inside cooks to a beautiful pink.
Complete the meal with Santa Maria Beans.
7. Skirt Steak (aka Fajita Steak)
A long, thin, very flavorful cut that cooks very fast over a high flame. Skirt steak's loose-rope structure creates lots of nooks and crannies for marinades. It's the traditional cut for fajitas, of course, either grilled, broiled, or sauteed. You can also stir-fry with skirt steak; thin strips of skirt steak are done in seconds. If you can't find true skirt steak, flank steak is a popular substitution.
- Sizzlin' Fajitas: Cut the skirt steak across the grain into 1/4-inch strips. Then cook the marinated steak over high heat in a large skillet. "If you do not have the time to marinate the meat for 2 or more hours, just leave it out at room temperature, keeping the bag zipped tightly for about 20 to 30 minutes," says the recipe submitter.
- Grilled Coffee and Cola Skirt Steak: "Two great drinks equal one fantastic marinade for skirt steak, the juiciest and most flavorful piece of meat you can put on a grill," says Chef John here. "It's smoky and subtly sweet. The flavors are balanced perfectly with the bitterness of the coffee in the grill marks."
- More Skirt Steak Recipes
8. Flank Steak
Like skirt steak, flank steak comes in long, thin strips. Flank steaks are thicker than skirt steaks and tighter in structure – meaning the grains hold closer together. Treat flank steak as you would skirt steak. Give them a bath in a marinade and some time on the grill. Or slice them into strips and stir-fry over high heat.
- Bracciole (Flank Steak Rolls): An authentic Italian recipe for flank-steak rolls stuffed with garlic, parsley, and Parmesan cheese and braised on the stovetop in a tomato sauce.
- Maria's Pepper Steak: Here, thin strips of flank steak are treated to a quick blast in a hot skillet, bathing alongside a tangy, slightly sweet soy, vinegar, and honey sauce.
- More Flank Steak Recipes
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