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Most flavorful cut of beef that is also tender?

I know that the best cuts of meet come from the upper back-rib area, but does "best" mean tender or flavorful, or both? Is there a flavorful cut of meat for steak that doesn't come out like you are chewing on rubber bands? Thanks!

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  1. Best flavor of meats is always those closest to the bone, I think the best is Rib Eye (on the bone) 1st for the flavor, then for tender. Lots of people love Filet for the tenderness but it lacks the flavor IMO. I've been to great upscale steak places where they will go over the different cuts and that one bit of info I took from my lesson.

    1. Rib eye and NY strip are considered the most flavorful. Some boutique cuts can be pretty flavorful, but not always tender (flatiron, skirt, etc).

      1 Reply
      1. re: OldTimer

        Are you sure a flat iron isn't tender? It's ranked second most tender by the NAMP (North America Meat Processors). And I couldn't agree more - the few I've had, were stupid-tender, had very good flavor and had the right texture.

        And not all tenderloin is null of flavor - if you can get your hands on some higher-end Prime tenderloin, it has a very nice beef flavor, that is typically lacking from most tenderloin. I had the opportunity to prepare one last week and abet expensive, was worth the price, as a special occasion item.

        I'm also an avid fan of top sirloin, center cut; ribeyes and strips. Just depends what I'm in the mood for. :)

        1. Ribeye has already been mentioned. I also really like skirt steak, grilled rare. It has a very meaty flavor.

          9 Replies
          1. re: cocktailhour

            Seems years ago steak was definitely tastier. I have no idea why. When I grew up in NY there was NO such thing as a "NY steak" cut. Also, I've noticed lately steak of the rib eye and strip varieties have a slightly unpleasant taste I can only describe as a subtle slightly liver-y tang. Not spoiled. But it just makes me not want to buy steak at all. I'm very sensitive to flavors. My husband thought what I left on my plate tasted just fine. This was fresh from TJ's and not cheap - and cooked perfectly. I'm depressed about the steak situation to tell you the truth.

            The most flavorful steak I've had here in SF has been rarely when I can get Mexican skirt steak in a restaurant flame charred on the outside and bloody rare on the inside -hmmmmmmm...drool....beefy!! So, get some skirt steak and a BBQ grill. That's my advice.

            1. re: niki rothman

              Had an incredible hangar steak at (believe it or not) the restaurant at Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Whatever they did to it made it less chewy without affecting flavor (pounding?) . Highly recommended if you get out there

              1. re: Cheffrank

                The culotte steak...the filet of the sirloin. There are only two per animal(one per side). You will see some restaurants adverise culotte steak, but most times it is a sirloin steak that comes from the same area as the true culotte, but cut in a way so as to maximize the number of steaks per animal...if all that makes sense.

                1. re: nyfoodjoe

                  This reinforces the point that one should build a relationship with the best butcher in your town. They probably save these 2 culotte steaks for their best customers, no? Like...give a nice holiday tip $$$

                  But about sirloin in general, my experience is that it's tough.

              2. re: niki rothman

                Niki, if you decide to leave your husband, look me up! I live just north of Toronto, and we have a nearby grocer who gets USDA choice - no one gets prime - beef. I love to get one of his 2 1/2" thick rib-eyes, put a nice spice rub on it, and then throw it on the (charcoal) BBQ for about 2 minutes a side. That's enough to get the char I like, but still leave the middle blue/red and bloody.

                Everyone else seems to be grossed out, and I know it's the only way to really enjoy all the flavours and textures at once. Mmmmmm...

                1. re: niki rothman

                  You aren't imagining this.

                  - The USDA grading standards were seriously downgraded (quite long ago -- possibly another Hound can recall exactly when). What now rates as "prime" wouldn't have been top choice 40 years ago.

                  - Most butchers in affluent areas carried (or could easily order) the best prime beef. Today it is rarely available to retail buyers and costs the earth (check lobels.com; there could be a comparable place in SF)

                  - All good meat was dry aged, which intensifies flavour; today even the top steak houses (with a few exceptions) wet age their meat sealed in cryovac. Wet aging increases tenderness, but doesn't improve flavour

                  You are right about "NY steaks" -- they didn't exist. The cut most often called "NY" comes from the short loin and, in NY, was called a "shell steak"

                  1. re: embee

                    Colloquial names for beef cuts are irrelevent...New York, Strip, Shell have been cut names for years, like Delmonico and Rib Eye, Market Steak... whatever the vendor chooses. Apparently, many vendors don't take the names of cuts seriously, even tho fraudulent. For example, in the SF Bay Area several upscale markets advertise a top round steak as "Chateaubriand" ...usually $4-5 lb. Also, don't count on retail Prime grade beef to be really dry aged...no matter what the label says. Do you really think most consumers can tell the difference? As long as they are paying criminal prices for beef , it tastes good. Also, I don't know that USDA standards were "downgraded", but the names were changed. What is now "select" used to be "good". Select sounds better. Same grades. In fact, some of the best beef is ungraded (since grading costs money). But that is another story. Moral...you really can't trust most "butchers"...really "meat cutters". Trust your taste.

                    1. re: OldTimer

                      I partially agree with you, but we'll need to agree to disagree on a few things.

                      Colloquial names for beef cuts are, indeed, irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. But there are generally accepted names for many specific cuts of beef. These names differ from place to place. A "Spencer steak" referred specifically to a boneless rib eye in 1967 Montreal; something called Spencer steak did not exist in Toronto, though boneless rib eyes certainly did. It's much like a a green onion is a scallion is a spring onion is a shallot, depending on where you are.

                      During my New York City childhood, there was no retail cut of meat called a "NY cut steak". Asking for a "shell steak" would get you the cut called a NY steak in many other cities. Asking for a NY steak in a Brooklyn supermarket would often get you a blank stare.

                      But I do agree with you that many vendors use marketing names that diverge from names in common use, often to the point of what I would consider fraud. I have seen eye round sold as fillet mignon at inflated prices, and all I can do is roll my eyes - people buy it again and again. I can't imagine they don't realize they are being robbed.

                      I agree with you that most prime beef today is wet aged, but that wasn't true 50 years ago. I don't think the cryovac process had been invented yet. The best butchers in my neighbourhood had meat hanging on racks for weeks at a time.

                      You say in another post that wet and dry aging are comparable. On this we disagree. I could taste real, and sometimes profound differences between the wet and dry aged beef (from the same source and of comparable quality) sold by one butcher who offered both.

                      I've had tender, delicious wet aged meat and tough, blah dry aged meat. I've had kosher rib steaks (not aged at all) that tasted fine. I've held thick wet aged steaks in my fridge and coaxed out more flavour after several days. But the steaks I like best seem to be dry aged for 30-40 days. I know they are dry aged because I can see, and choose, the meat myself. I also know there are limits. One store in Toronto sells some rib roasts aged at least 60 days. This much age proved too much for me - I didn't like the taste at all.

                      The USDA standards WERE downgraded. The meat sold as prime when I started buying meat looked very different from retail prime meat today. Much of the meat labeled choice back then had more marbling and a better conformation than most meat being sold as prime today. Here in Canada, the grading standards have also changed over the years, but the names of the grades were changed too.

                      I DO agree with you that much of the best beef is ungraded, and I agree that most consumers can't tell the difference between the good and the merely OK.

                      Don't trust the butcher, trust your taste? Absolutely! And if you can't taste the difference, pay the lower price.

                      1. re: embee

                        I'm impressed with your knowlege of beef. A few comments, however. My grandfather was a meat packer, and I learned a bit (tho 50 years ago). USDA grading is subjective. It is based mostly upon fat on the hanging side. One grader will grade a side choice that another considers prime. In fact, the top 30% of choice equals the lower 30% of prime, in many cases. If a meat packer has a top retail customer, he will get the best of the choice. I think that is the case with Costco meats. A customer any packer would die for. As for dry aged beef, of course it is usually tastier than wet aged, since the drying concentrates the flavor (I never said they were comparable). But you must realize that most dealers only dry age the best beef, whether graded or not. They do not usually dry age choice or lower, since there is little market for it. The best test is to dry age your own primal cut, and see if it is substantially better than the same grade primal cut wet aged. I think you'll be surprized. As I suggested, if you are paying $35 lb for a filet, it will definitely taste good. But is the tiny bit better worth the price?

              3. My choice for steak is a top sirloin. I usually buy a whole roast and cut it myself.

                My friends dad was a butcher and she said that, that's where they got their steaks from.

                DT