Strips are the same muscle as that found in the ribeye, but the steaks are cut from further down the animal’s backbone, further away from the head (from the Short loin, where the lumbar vertebrae are). Usually boneless, strips are also relatively tender, but they don’t have the tasty spinalis attached. Sometimes they are narrower and have more connective tissue (gristle) than ribeyes. Because they are usually just one muscle, they are a leaner than the ribeyes (well, it’s easier to avoid the fa… not-lean parts).
Filet mignon or tenderloin. As the price tag indicates, this is THE MOST tender cut of meat on the animal. It lies under the backbone along the lumbar vertebrae. As a muscle in the live animal, it must not have had much to do because it is very tender. Sometimes it has some off-flavor problems. Filets are also rather small, so if you don’t have a large appetite, it could be a good choice.
T-bone. This is a favorite of lots of men. It’s BIG and it has a bone. Basically, the T-bone is the Strip and the Filet still stuck together with a bone in the middle. It’s a good one for sharing, especially if you and whoever you are sharing with don’t like your steaks cooked to the same degree of doneness. Generally, steaks are less done closer to the bone.
Sirloin. If I’m not in the mood (I don’t have enough money) for a ribeye, I usually order a sirloin. The story goes that an English king liked the steak so much that he knighted it, hence ‘sir’ loin. According to Wikipedia and Snopes.com, that’s not true. (It doesn’t mean you can’t pass the time telling the story to your kids while waiting on your meals at the steakhouse.)
The sirloin steaks are the very last steaks cut from the loin. Made from two large muscles, full-size sirloin steaks are very large, but are usually cut into smaller steaks for restaurants. At some places, you can order a sirloin steak as small as 6 oz. That’s uncooked weight, so the cooked weight should be between 3 and 4 oz (close to the suggested serving size).
Sirloin steaks are often marinated or flavored, which makes them tastier, but can it also add calories (like I care). Sirloin tips are from the same area, just cut up before they were cooked. Sirloin steaks are generally lean, but can be inconsistent in tenderness. When I cook them at home, I try to make sure I don’t overcook them.
The Flat-iron is always tender and juicy. Sometimes, if it isn’t cut correctly, some of the gristle gets left on it.
That’s pretty much it for ‘grillin’ steaks’ or steaks you will commonly find at restaurants. Several of these steaks are among the 29-cuts of lean beef that qualify for the USDA definition on ‘lean’. Those include the strip, the tenderloin, the T-bone, and sirloin steaks. So, go out and enjoy a good steak tonight.