5 Expensive Steak Cuts You Probably Didn’t Know About

Humorist Fran Lebowitz once observed that “Vegetables are interesting but lack a sense of purpose when unaccompanied by a good cut of meat.” While celebrities and activists promote vegetarianism, they can not suppress the national appetite for meat. Carnivores still abound, looking for the perfect cut of animal flesh. Whether grilled, broiled or tartare, beef steak tops the list of preferred foods for the dedicated meat-eater and prices reflect this demand. Consumers do well, therefore, to consider the full range of cuts available beyond sirloin and tenderloin. Here are five worth checking out.

1. Flat iron steak comes from the chuck (or shoulder) section of the steer, from which pot roast beef and short ribs are also cut. Generously marbled with fat, it is a tender and juicy alternative to tenderloin. One of the supreme advantages of flat iron steak is that it can be cooked quickly on a stove top while retaining all of its supple and succulent texture. Furthermore, contact with a pan’s hot surface forms a crispy casing around the meat.

2. Derived from the region between the rib and short loin, hanger steak is optimal for steak fajitas or spicy Asian wraps. Celebrated for its rich and beefy flavor, this cut does well on the grill, with one caveat. It requires significant marinating, or can quickly lose its juiciness and dry out. In addition, its coarse consistency does best under fairly low heat. When cooked right, however, hanger steak is a gustatory pleasure.

3. The lower portion of the beef cow, toward the hind legs, is the flank, from which flank steak is cut. Like hanger steak, flank steak can be cut thinly and against the grain for hearty sandwiches or stir fries. While this cut may contain more connective tissue than, say, strip steak, careful preparation will yield strip-like flavor and tenderness. Marinades work effectively with this type of meat but cooks should not leave flank steak marinating for more than a few hours.

4. The tri-tip steak is from the bottom sirloin portion of the steer, and is both lean and boneless. Popular in California, the tri-tip cut is names so because of its triangular shape. This is a thick cut and well-marbled, and does well broiled in an oven or cooked in a skillet. Because it is strong in flavor, it will not be smothered by a rich sauce or tangy marinade. The only drawback to this meat is that it is sometimes difficult to obtain from either supermarket or butcher. Tri-Tip might require a little diligence in tracking it down.

5. Other than its unfortunate name, spinalis is a cut without any negatives. Previously, the spinalis cut was simply part of the ribeye—the most tender and succulent part. As serving sizes shrank, the spinalis took on an identity of its own, and is now in high demand. Easy and quick to grill, this cut can easily hold its own without condiment.

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