10 must try steaks you've probably never heard of
There's no doubt that the ribeye, striploin and tenderloin are the steakhouse cuts you likely most familiar with. They are prime steaks for a very good reason and, with rich depth of flavour, tenderness and marbling they are pretty hard to beat. But that’s not the point of this post. The point of this post is to show you that there is more to be enjoyed from other parts of beef that are arguably richer in flavour and just as tender as the prime steaks for about half the price.
Let’s start with the front of the animal from the front of the shoulder down to the 4th rib bone. This primal is known as the chuck and it has a bunch of tender and immensely flavourful and versatile grilling cuts worthy of recognition.
The denver steak, also known as the zabuton, is cut from a large flap of meat located just below the chuck roll. You can typically cut about 5 to 6 denver steaks from a side of beef and they range in size from about 8 to 12 oz. On a well marbled beef, you can expect a denver to have excellent marbling and is both tender and boldly flavoured.
The flatiron steak is attached to the shoulder blade bone of the animal. Once removed from the blade bone the flatiron is covered with sinew on both sides that needs to be removed. But it’s still not ready until it’s split it half to remove the sinew that runs between it. It’s a tricky piece of meat that yields only two 16 to 18 ounces pieces per side of beef. A flat iron is typically very lean, but since it’s surrounded by hard working muscles, it’s incredibly flavourful and gives the tenderloin a run for its money on tenderness. A flatiron on a grill to medium rare you can’t go wrong.
The ranch steak is cut from the shoulder cold, and more specifically the clod heart. Ranch steaks are another lean cut that is super flavourful and makes for a perfect weeknight steak on one that you can cook fast and slice thinly for steak sandwiches. Ranch steaks are usually about 6-8 ounces and do well when cooked to a medium doneness. Yep not everything needs to be medium rare.
Like the ranch, denver and flatiron the petite tender also comes from the shoulder or beef chuck. And like the aforementioned steaks you’ll only find this in at a high quality butcher shop that breaks down whole animals or of course at yours truly Steak Almighty. This little steak, that’s under a pound in weight is just as tender but way more flavourful than your average tenderloin. The only downside is that since there are only two of these per animal they are always in limited supply.
It’s worth mentioning that the petite tender is often confused with another muscle also from the shoulder called the mock or chuck tender. Where the petite is tender the mock is not. Don’t confuse the two.
The baseball steak is a cut from the sirloin. The sirloin attaches itself to the striploin and is a big ol’ chunk of meat that sits behind the hip bone of the animal. The sirloin itself consists of the picanha, the sirloin heart, and the tri-tip. To cut a baseball steak, the sirloin heart must first be separated along a line of sinew that runs in between it. This yields two pieces one being about half of the size of the other. This smaller piece is where the baseball steak can be cut from. A single sirloin usually yields about four 8 ounce steaks that are about the same diameter as a tenderloin. The baseball steak is tender, flavourful and also has a decent amount of marbling in it.
Let’s face the YouTube channels Guga Foods and Sous Vide Everything basically have made the picanha (pee·kaa·nyuh) famous. In Brazil it’s called the queen of steaks and it rivals every other cut of beef including the ribeye and striploin. The picanha also goes by other names like the rump cap, sirloin cap or coulotte. There is a trick to cutting the picanha depending on how you intend to cook it. When cooking it like a steak on a grill or skillet, cut steaks along the grain, that’s right, contrary to everything you think you know, cut a picanha steak along the grail. This is to ensure that when it’s on your plate you’ll cut it against the grain shortening those muscle fibers for a deliciously tender bite. When you want to server this up churrasco style, grilled on skewers, you’ll want to cut these against the grain so that when it’s carved off the skewers and ready for that bite it’s also against the grain. The picanha is undoubtedly an amazing steak, well marbled, nice fat cap and deeeeeeeelicious (that one’s for you Ninja).
The tri-tip became popular in California for it’s affordability, incredible flavour and marbling. It’s a versatile cut that holds up well to low and slow BBQ as well as cooked to a medium rare like a steak. The tri-tip is a pretty tricky cut to come by simply because it’s relatively unknown up here in Canada and it’s usually cut in half at the processor because it’s situated exactly between the loin and round primals. If you do stumble upon it, it’s a cut of beef you’ll definitely want to pick up.
The bavette like the more popular flank steak is another flap meat located in the loin primal. Bavette means bib in French, which I suppose it somewhat resembles, and is also where this cut is very popular. Like other flap meats, it has a long grain structure and benefits from a hot and fast cook to about 135F internal temperature. Serve it thinly sliced across the grain. The bavette has a complex flavour and can be equally enjoyed seasoned simply with salt and pepper, or can take on a marinade of herbs, spices and garlic. Regardless of how you cook it, this cut of meat is easily in our top ten cuts of beef for its affordability, complex flavour and cooking versatility.
Inside and outside skirt
These two skirt or flap meats are among the most delicious pieces of meat on the animal. They sit on the inside of the rib cage of the animal, are generally quite long, sometimes up to 2 feet on a full size Angus steer. The skirts have long muscle fibers with a lot of intermuscular fat intermingled into it. Skirt steaks are most popularly used in the Mexican dish Carne Asada, which simply means, grilled meat. You’ll find carne asada in authentic mexican restaurants using boldly marinated skirt steaks sliced thinly against the grain to be included in tacos or eaten with a topping of fresh chimichurri. While both skirts can be used for carne asada, it’s typically the outside skirt that is preferred as it’s more tender than its inside counterpart. Regardless they are both delicious and the next time you want to step your game on taco Tuesday you now know the cut to look for.
And there you have it, 10 new steaks you can discover for any day of the week that are all excellent on the grill or skillet. When we know more about the food we eat and have the ability to elevate the way we prepare it, everybody wins. We hope you’ll seek them out here on Steak Almighty or at your local butcher shop.