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Steak Cuts 101 – The Art of Cutting Meat Explained

Steak Cuts 101 – The Art of Cutting Meat Explained

One of the most wonderful things about steak, especially beef cuts like the ones we talk about here, is that with different cuts come different flavor profiles, and each is worth exploring. However, cutting meat is an art on its own and you have to know how to proceed if you want to enjoy the best taste possible with the steaks that you prepare.

Raw beef cutting basics

Raw beef is known for being difficult to cut, so your best option is to partially freeze it before you start the process to gain some stability. Parts & Labor advises that even when you use a meat slicer knife that goes through meat like it were butter to freeze the cut beforehand as your precision enhances and your work is significantly eased.

If you are dealing with a large section, like the chuck or the round, first divide it into subprimals and use a home meat slicer to precisely cut it into steaks as the appliance provides stability in slicing that you won’t ever reach on your own. Consistent sizes are important with pre-cooked cutting, so get your measurements right and use the meat slicer to perfect the cuts and enjoy steak as delicious as the one you serve at your favorite restaurant.

When you have your cuts, you can trim off the fat, but make sure that you don’t get too aggressive with the cuts and get rid of all the fat as it does help keep the beef juicy, so part of the fat should remain on the cut.

Deconstructing primal cuts

  • Tenderloin: Filet mignon is obtained from this primal. Dry-heat cooking methods like grilling are used to prepare it.
  • Brisket: A moderately fat cut given its tough profile. Preferred by meat lovers as it is one of the most flavorful. However, it takes a lot of time and cooking at low temperatures to prepare it, so you need to have the patience to tenderize and break it down.
  • Short loin: Depending on their thickness, it can yield around 14 steaks. Club steaks are the first cuts, porterhouse steaks are the end cuts, while the middle cuts deliver 6-7 T-bones.
  • Chuck: It is recommended for the preparation of beef stew, pot roast, Denver steak and flat iron steak due to its content of connective tissue and fat.
  • Rib: It’s a tender cut that fits well if you want to cook dry-heat and the basis of ribeye steak and French entrecôte.
  • Shank: It is robust and full of tissue and is used to make osso buco, a luxurious Italian dish.
  • Plate: This contains the steak of the skirt and the short ribs. It contains a lot of cartilage, making it the go-to when you want to cook gelatin, and since it’s very high in fat, it’s also used to make ground beef.
  • Flank: As it contains strong muscle fibers, it should be grilled quickly at a high temperature, as the longer you cook it, the harder it gets.
  • Sirloin: The first cut is very similar to the steak of the porterhouse. Typically the bottom of the sirloin is split into the flap, the tri-tip, and the tip of the bat, which is ideal for barbecue and roasting.
  • Round: The muscles are lean yet hard and are best served when prepared medium-rare.

How to cook – 1” steak thickness guide

  • Blue rare: Cook for a total of 2 minutes, turning it once every 30 seconds so that it sears on the outside but remains red throughout. The internal temperature should be at 46 to 49 degrees Celsius.
  • Rare: Cook for 7 minutes, turning it once every 1 minute and 45 seconds so that it sears on the outside and stays approximately 75% red through the center. The internal temperature should range from 52 to 55 degrees Celsius.
  • Medium rare: 8-minute total cooking time, and it must be turned once every 2 minutes for it to sear on the outside and stay 50% red through the center. The internal temperature should range from 55 to 60 degrees Celsius.
  • Medium: Must be cooked for 9 minutes, turning it once every 2 minutes and 15 seconds for it to sear on the outside and turn 25% pink on the inside. The internal temperature should range from 60 to 65 degrees Celsius.
  • Medium well: Total cooking time of 10 minutes, turning it every 2 minutes and 30 seconds for it to sear on the outside but still maintain some pink at its center. The internal temperature range is from 65 to 69 degrees Celsius.
  • Well done: Total cooking time of 12 minutes, and you must turn it every 3 minutes each side for it to broil until it is 100% browned. The internal temperature should range from 71 to 100 degrees Celsius.