Are you finally having that long awaited time off from work? If so, this serves as the perfect time for that BBQ you and the guys’ have been planning. Even with a little less sunshine around, the yard can still be enjoyed, and a fun-filled night of steak and wine is the perfect way to unwind. Come to think of it, you might as well put that newly renovated patio to good use while at it.
With the venue and timing sorted, you now need to do some thinking about the menu. Nothing is better than a good hearty meal accompanied by some male bonding. And as meat is always a favorite with men, you sure can’t go wrong putting thick, juicy slabs of steak on your mates’ plates.
To make it a night to remember though, you have got to get your steak perfectly cooked. BBQ night photos with disappointed friends gnawing on tough, charred unidentified animal parts won’t make for good memories. So read on for the perfect man’s guide to steak, for information on the best prime cuts you definitely want to consider for the big night.
1. Filet Mignon
Topping the list of prime cuts is the filet mignon. This cut is pure flesh and entirely free of any traces of fat. It is understandably one of the priciest parts of meat money can buy.
Where it’s from: This cut is a sirloin steak taken from one of the least used muscles under the ribs of the cow. As it is a less used muscle, the filet mignon is very tender, making it very easy to carve up with steak knives or electric knives.
What it looks like: As it is a muscle trimmed off the smaller end of the entire tenderloin, it usually is pretty small but cut into larger chunks than most steaks. It is entirely boneless and fat-free.
What it tastes like: If you are not as keen on flavor as you are on texture and you’ve got a fat wallet to boot, then the filet mignon is the best steak for you. As it is fat-free, this cut doesn’t get to have the juicy meatiness most steak lovers crave. Its tender texture that just gives way in the presence of a steak knife makes up for the mild flavor though. It is a steak of choice for those on a diet.
How it is sold: This ‘posh’ steak is usually sold by the pound. It can be hard to find the prime cuts though as the high-end restaurants already scooped them up. Your local butcher might be able to help you get some of the freshest cuts available though. Remember to ask nicely so as to have enough cash left over.
2. The Rib Eye Steak
The rib eye is yet another high-end piece of meat. Some ribeyes are boneless while others have the rib bone still attached. Though not as pricey as the filet mignon, this baby doesn’t come cheap either.
Where it’s from: This one is a no-brainer. As the name goes, ribeyes are simply prime rib cut into steaks. They are cut from the rib cage of a cow.
What it looks like: The ribeye steak could either have some bone or be totally boneless. It is a juicy chunk of meat with lots of lines of fat spread all over the piece.
What it tastes like: With all that fatty goodness going on with the rib eye steak, its juicy, intense beefy flavor is definitely a given. The high-fat content means you need to make sure that meat is properly cooked through and through. Make it easier on yourself by using a meat thermometer. So, you can’t go wrong with that one.
Although the ribeye is not as tender as the filet mignon, it has this chewy consistency that makes the steak eating experience a pleasure for all meat lovers. Ah.. the joys of life as an unapologetic carnivore.
How it is sold: The ribeye is also sold by the pound. You can save yourself a few coins by picking up the whole ribeye and carving it up into steaks or roasts by yourself. If you choose to take the lazy man’s way out and buy the already prepared steaks, be prepared to shell out a tidy sum. This is one of those times it pays to DIY.
3. The New York Strip
We’ve done enough talking about the cuts for the top dogs. The New York Strip is the right kind of steak for the regular guy next door. It is quite affordable, making it the go-to steak perfect for BBQ night with the crew.
Where it’s from: This cut comes from the rib neighborhood, somewhere in the backyard. This short piece of loin is taken from behind the rib of a steer.
What it looks like: This boneless steak cut has got some fat going on with it. Though it is not riddled with large pockets of fat like the rib eye, it does have a little here and there.
What it tastes like: Texture-wise, the New York Strip is not as tender as the filet mignon so you need to do a fair bit of chewing. It is still pretty sumptuous though with its medium fat content but certainly not as juicy as the fat loaded ribeye. The New York Strip is the best of both ribeye and filet mignon worlds. Not too lean, not too tender yet loaded with beefy goodness with a reasonable price tag attached. What’s not to love?
How it is sold: Your local grocer can hook you up with a pound of New York Strip without you having to actually reach the slaughter slab. As with the Rib Eye steak, you can save a lot by simply getting those steak kitchen knives out and get those strips out like a man. Or you can use a meat cleaver to cut it.
4. The T – Bone Steak
Unarguably one of the more popular steak cuts, the T – Bone is in a class all its own. This interestingly shaped chunk of meat has literally got a lot going for it with two kinds of meat all bundled up in one slab.
Where it’s from: The T – bone steak is cut from the rear end of the sirloin. The sirloin is towards the backside of a cow, close to the rump.
What it looks like: As the names imply, the T- bone steak is a luscious combo of both the filet mignon and the sirloin in one steak with a T shaped bone as a divider between both types of meat. The large sized T – bone steak is no small piece of meat. It is quite an impressive sight to behold with moderate fat coursing through its entirety.
What it tastes like: The T bone running down it center adds to the flavor of this steak. It is both tender and chewy depending on which side of the divide your fork hits. The robust, beefy juiciness is a real taste bud pleaser. You might want to have your tank empty though or at least enlist some support before you attempt taking on this big guy.
How it is sold: You can pick up this big guy at the neighborhood grocery store. This steak is definitely not an option for those who can’t handle a little bone as it does not come in a boneless variety. It can be found already prepackaged in the freezer section of the grocery store.
5. The Hanger Steak
The Hanger steak is a super tender cut that is rapidly growing in popularity. It is slightly affordable so you get to chow on some beef without going bankrupt. This is a very flavorful piece of meat also called the Butcher’s steak.
Where it’s from: This cut is taken from the part of the cow’s underbelly closest to its forelegs. It is cut from a support muscle between the cow’s ribs and loin.
What it looks like: This steak cut is entirely boneless but not overly thick with thin rivulets of fat coursing through it.
What it tastes like: The hanger is quite tender as it is cut from a muscle that basically just hangs there doing nothing at all. For once, laziness actually turned out well. It is chock full of flavor, especially when carefully marinated with exotic and some not so exotic spices which its soft texture just soaks in. You might want to keep your meat thermometer handy for this one though. You undercook it and you will be chewing forever on a mouthful of meat of that just won’t break down.
How it is sold: Considering there is only one hanger steak per cow that lone steak might not even make it to the store or restaurant before someone lays claim to it. Scratch that. The butcher might even want it for keeps. All the more reason you need to be up all in that slaughterhouse.
6. The Denver Cut
This is a less famous cut of steak which is only now becoming more heard off courtesy of the Beef Checkoff Program introduced in the US. The program is the cattle industry research effort broke folks who love meat should be eternally grateful to for coming up with much less bank-breaking steak cuts.
Where it’s from: This wallet-friendly cut is derived from the chuck. That is the muscle located at the cow’s shoulder. It is a well-used muscle that should ordinarily be quite tough. Funny enough, the Denver cut is amazingly tender.
What it looks like: Looks wise, the Denver cut and the New York Strip could pass for twins. It does not have overly large pockets of fats distributed all over it but it does have fat rivulets pretty much spread about.
What it tastes like: With the fat marbling all over the Denver cut, it is no wonder it is bursting with flavor. For those not too particular about weight, cuts with fat marbling have the guarantee of that beefy taste. Season it properly with dry rubs and marinades to draw out the beefy yumminess this cut is known for. Its tender texture makes requires only slight chewing and is easily sliced with a steak knife.
How it is sold: You don’t need to go too far to pick up this relatively new on the scene cut. The nearby meat market or even an online butcher would do just fine. It is a pretty affordable piece. Just stick to a size either an ounce or pound that your budget can accommodate and you will be alright. With as little as $5.00, you’ve got yourself a pound of Denver.
7. The Shoulder Tender
Still on steer shoulders, comes the shoulder tender. As the name suggests, this cut is a real softy. Nice and tender like the filet mignon, you will enjoy eating this cut without getting heart palpitations over your account balance.
Where it’s from: The shoulder tender is cut from the shoulder blade of a cow, just slightly below the animal’s neck from a muscle called the teres major.
What it looks like: The shoulder tender is a small and oblong shapes slab of meat that is often entirely boneless and looks very much like the tenderloin.
What it tastes like: This ‘tender’ cut needs some careful handling to achieve peak softness. When oven roasted, the shoulder tender is a sumptuous delight. Super tender when done right, the shoulder tender’s bold, beefy flavor is not quite as strong as its fat-marbled relatives but by far tastier than the tenderloin. That should be great news for the weight watchers team as this cut is often very lean.
How it is sold: You might have to tap into your Sherlock Holmes alter ego to track down the shoulder tender as it isn’t exactly found as a whole in stores. Very similar to the filet mignon in tenderness but thankfully not in price, a pound of the shoulder tender can be had for under $5.00.