Beef is one of humankind’s favorite dishes since the pre-historic times. Today, it is still one of the most consumed types of meat. But what are the different cuts of beef from the steak chart and where do they come from? What is the best steak and what are its characteristics? The types and names of beef cuts vary – not only between countries but sometimes even between butchers. Otto’s steak chart presents 12 cuts of beef everyone should know.
Otto’s steak chart
The outer and the inner skirt steak are cut from the beef’s diaphragm. They are both not particularly tender but very tasty. The outer skirt steak is more tender and has much more of an intense flavor than the inner one.
Brisket Beef comes from the chest and is divided by a layer of fat. Due to its long fibers, it needs to be cooked very slowly, e.g. for corned beef, pastrami or Texas-style BBQ.
Flat Iron Steak
The name of this rather thin cut comes from its characteristic iron-like shape. This cut comes from the front shoulder and the large strip of sinew in the middle is usually removed. Then, this cut of meat is usually divided into two fillets.
The tomahawk steak is a very manly cut. It is marbled, moist and has an intense flavor thanks to its intact rib bone. The cut is a bone-in rib-eye steak from the front rib of the beef. The thickness of the cut depends on the thickness of the bone. A tomahawk steak is normally so big that you can easily feed two or more people from it. Fun fact: the name of the cut comes from its characteristic shape, which looks like an Indians’ tomahawks.
The rib-eye steak comes from the front rib and is a typical American cut. It is composed of four muscle strings. The chunk of fat in the middle is often described as its key characteristic, but in fact, the name comes from one of the four muscle ligaments which looks like an eye.
Entrecôte is the French version of the American rib-eye cut. Like the rib-eye, it is composed of four muscle strings, which enclose an aromatic hunk of fat. It is hard to distinguish the two cuts.
The T-bone steak is a true classic. It is characterized by its T-shaped bone, which separates the strip and the tenderloin muscles. This most popular steak cut comes from the short loin across the spine. Compared to the porterhouse cut, it is considered the less premium cut as it has a smaller piece of fillet – this is obviously a question of taste.
The porterhouse steak is the same cut as the T-bone and has the same characteristic T-shaped bone. It’s cut from the far back containing a larger portion of filet mignon. For many steak lovers it is the perfect cut as it combines an aromatic strip steak and a tender fillet. In Italy, the cut is called Bistecca alla Fiorentina.
The sirloin steak comes from the hip of the animal. It is not particularly tender nor tasteful. Therefore, it is often combined with prawns and served as Surf n‘Turf.
Filet mignon is one of the most popular and expensive cuts from the steak chart because it is particularly tender. It is cut from the long, cylindrical muscle, the tenderloin, which runs below the spine from the mid-body to the hind leg of the animal. As you take cuts toward the front of the animal, the filet mignon gets thinner. This is why the portion of filet mignon is smaller in the T-Bone cut than in the Porterhouse cut which comes from further back in the animal. Filet mignon contains only a little fat and shows hardly any marbling. Therefore, its flavor is less intense than that of more fatty cuts. It is used also for carpaccio. The thickest part of the tenderloin from the very back of the beef is cut around 8 cm thick to make Chateaubriand. It is classically served for two with béarnaise sauce.
Rump steak comes from the rear part of the hip and the same muscle as the sirloin. It is well-marbled and has a thick strip of fat, making it particularly flavorful. It has a thick lining of fat which contributes to its desireable taste and is a great cut for any dish, especially for ramen.
The Flank Steak comes from the lower belly of the animal. It is a large, flat muscle with long fibers and little fat which makes it a little bit chewy. Regardless, it is a popular favorite from the steak chart. It is mostly marinated, grilled and cut against the fiber into thin slices.