The cut of meat from a cow drastically affects the flavour of a steak. Most steaks ordered in a restaurant or steak house are taken from the lower back of the cow, either in the short loin or sirloin area, the tenderest areas. Marinated portions of steak can come from the flank or round region of a cow. Know, before purchasing, how you want to prepare your steak, so you can choose the perfect cut.
Fillet cuts are from the middle portion of the short loin or the tenderloin area. This is usually the first strip of meat to be removed from the cow. Fillet and tenderloin portions are the tenderest cut of the whole cow, since this part is the least exercised area. Without the muscle, the meat falls apart easily and is almost never marinated. Though it can be grilled, fillet mignon is sometimes baked or grilled to leave the inside rare.
Porterhouse and t-bone
Porterhouse steaks are large, popular cuts because they have a little of everything. These long pieces are cut from the back of the short loin area, down into the tenderloin. They have a layer of fat stretching around the side of the steak which marbles when grilled. T-bone steaks are similar to porterhouse, except they have less of the tenderloin and are more chewy than tender. Both cuts are large and good for grilling, giving you most of the different textures beef has to offer.
Sirloin steaks are cut from the hip of the cow, behind the short loin. There are many varieties of sirloin cuts, but they all fall into two categories. Bone-in sirloin cuts come from the top of the sirloin and are good for barbecue and grilling. These steaks are large and can feed more than one person. The bottom sirloin cuts, such as tip sirloin or boneless sirloin, are less common and are not quite as flavourful as the top sirloin. Bottom sirloin should be marinated and braised for best results.
Flank and strip
Flank steak is from the bottom flank of the cow and is the least tender of all steaks. Usually, flank is marinated heavily and grilled to soften that tough beef. Strip steak is what remains of the short loin when the tenderloin is removed for fillets. Strip steak varieties, such as New York strip, are still tender enough to be grilled, but are much tougher than the other short loin cuts.