The average American eats about 274 pounds of meat each year, and steak accounts for a decent percentage of this consumption. But even the most dedicated meat-eaters can struggle to differentiate the many different cuts of steak.
This brief guide will offer some helpful tips that you can use to identify different steak cuts. The next time you visit your favorite steakhouse, your friends and family members might be impressed by your beef expertise!
Look At the Shape
A steak’s shape is one of the most significant indicators of its cut. Filet mignon is one of the most identifiable steak cuts due to its small size and round medallion shape. Alternatively, tomahawk steaks are easily recognizable thanks to the long bit of bone stemming from the oval-shaped meat.
However, some steaks look nearly identical. For example, t-bone steak and porterhouse steak have a near-identical shape, making them somewhat difficult to tell apart. But one significant physical difference can help you differentiate them: width.
A t-bone steak is almost always skinnier than a porterhouse. In addition, most high-quality porterhouse cuts will have a heart shape, whereas a t-bone steak is more likely to exhibit a Y or T shape.
Still, steak shape isn’t the only way to distinguish between different cuts of steak. The fat content of a steak, also called marbling, can also help you identify its cut.
Check Out the Marbling
The priciest steak cuts often show exceptional marbling. When tiny globules of fat run through the surface of a steak are evenly spread like a spiderweb of fat, you’re likely looking at a top-notch cut of beef.
But some cuts naturally have a higher fat content than others. Additionally, some steak cuts have high-fat and low-fat areas. Familiarizing yourself with these different areas of fat is an excellent way to identify steak cuts.
A raw ribeye steak often has a significant amount of white fat running through it, often with a slight swirl of fat through the center. But t-bone steak might not have very much fat content around the t-shaped bone running through it, instead featuring a solid border of fat.
Top-quality porterhouse steaks also have fine threads of fat running through the meaty middle, but most of the fat sits along the border of the cut.
Focus on the Name
Did you know that the name of a steak cut can help you identify what part of the cow it comes from? For example, striploin steaks come from a small section of a cow’s loin.
As you might imagine, flank steak comes from a cow’s flank! The same is true of round and rump cuts, which are cut from their respective parts of the cow. Still, this trend isn’t always applicable.
For example, t-bone steaks come from the short loin area. Porterhouse steaks are also cut from a cow’s short loin. Still, the shape and marbling of these steak cuts can help you identify them.
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Enjoy a Tasty Steak Today
There are several ways to distinguish between different cuts of steak. One of the easiest ways is to examine the shape of a steak, though marbling and price points can also lend some clues.
If you’re curious to learn more about steak cuts and how they differ, you may want to study an in-depth steak cut guide. A helpful chart can teach you where specific cuts come from and how each type of steak differs in taste and consistency.
Did this article leave your mouth watering for a juicy steak? Check out our related lifestyle articles for more delicious info!