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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.


                1. I am a big fan of filets, t-bones, and the porterhouse. I love the flavor the bone gives the meat, and I also love how the filet melts in your mouth.

                  This past weekend I had a bone in filet @ Joes Seafood, Prime Steaks, and Stone Crabs in Chicago, and it was one of the best steaks I have ever eaten. You cant beef prime beef on the bone cooked to perfection. Mine was cooked medium rare, and it was juicy, flavorfull, and melted in my mouth.

                  1. I recommed a ribeye or a hanger steak, with the latter being my personal favorite. The hanger must be sliced across the grain before serving though and trimmed if sold whole. (Your butcher can do this for you.)

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Regan B

                      I love a thick ribeye, charred on the outside and red and juicy in the middle. Is a hangar steak the same as a flank steak? It sounds like the same process. I trim it well, marinate it in a rub overnight, grill it and slice it thinly across the grain. It's the family"s favorite.

                      1. re: greenstate

                        No hanger steak is a completely different muscle. When cleaned, the "hanging tender" is comprised of two long, tubular steaks (they look sort of like port tenderloin in shape). A whole hanger steak has the two lobes attached in the middle to each other by a rubbery membrane that has to be removed. There is only 1 whole hanger steak per steer.

                        Flank steak is thinner, wider, and more fibrous; and while some say the two are similar in flavor, flank is a decidedly different cut both in texture and looks.

                    2. There are parts of the lowly chuck steak that have great flavor, and for tender, a lengthy cooking time is all that's needed.
                      We are not restaurants that must turn the food out fast. We cook at home and can take the time to do things slowly and well and for optimum taste and pleasure.
                      End rant.

                      1. I just found a reasonably priced flank steak (4.95/lb) at a local small-town market (Soto's in Cambria Ca) and marinated it in homemade teriyaki, then grilled it fast (4 min per side) over hot coals. It was buttery and delicious!

                        Forgot how good flank can be--marinated or not. What intense flavor. Just be sure to slice thinly on the diagonal. Makes terrific sandwiches the next day.

                        1. Hangar steak for me, too. I will try to get a couple more in before the vegetarian sibling's return.

                          I only use the stove. Steadily heat up a good All Clad pan dry, until I've began to forget that the stove is on. ...Then the steak (no marinade, except sometimes some cooking wine, but patted dry) goes in with a loud crackling thunder, indicating the temperature is good and hot... maybe 2 mins on each side judging by the dark marks, and then i add some virgin olive oil..and depending on the need, i may put the lid on for no more than a minute...then the steak is taken out of the pan and allowed to rest for 5 mins while I deglaze the pan.

                          Agree that it's best sliced against the grain. If it's medium rare, though, it's never tough or rubbery. Some coarse sea salt and it's good to go. I don't think I can sacrifice the beefy taste for the buttery tenderness. I mean, if there's no beef taste, then I can just get that experience from chewing on a piece of good butter...(G)

                          The house gets pretty smoky. All windows open. And thanks to one of the thread, i now know to light a candle. (Will ANY candle do? I use one of those unscented tea candles.)

                          1. I personally have lost It when It comes to steak. I never get that good steak flavor from any steak I get. I have no Idea what's happened through the years and I never trust meat that's sold through supermarkets. You never know what your getting because you never see anything. In one case I used to buy ground chuck from a super mart and I knew what to expect from taste and texture. One day I bought some and after It was cooked the meat was tough. I knew this was not chuck or at least the chuck I used to buy. It felt like they ground up beef shanks or tough beef and sold It for chuck. I brought It up to the owner and he looked at me like I was making this up. I was raised In meat markets and I know what goes on sometime and that was not what the customer expected but what the butcher had at the time. Sausages can be scary, that's where all the meat that's ready to spoil ends up so I always make my own and know what I'm getting. My personal pick on steak Is the porterhouse. It's got the best of both and also has the bone which always tastes better then boneless steaks. Well, happy chewing!

                              1. re: redfish62

                                Ouch! See what happens when you feed soy to cattle? You get Salisbury steak.

                              2. I like the rib or the striploin or top sirloin For me these are the best as for where to get the best beef its Costco. To the lady that can not find a good a good steak That is where it is. I talked to someone in the meat department in Halifax they get the top notch beef from one supplier and it is the top AAA that you are getting. I am in Calgary now and the beef I buy here is the same as in Halifax

                                1. Nice to see this thread revived.

                                  There is a good steak cut from the upper blade, or chuck, boneless, beside the 1st rib. It is very tasty and tender when grilled like a rib eye, but has slightly more divisions in it.
                                  I ask for a shoulder steak beside the rib roasts, and most butchers or meat cutters seem to understand. Price is low compared to rib eye steak, maybe half as much.
                                  You won't find it in supermarkets, even Costco, as their meat comes boxed in cryovac for easy cutting into popular steaks or roasts.
                                  But a regular butcher shop where they have hanging carcasses should be able to give you a tender shoulder steak, with a little notice.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: jayt90

                                    I think you're describing what my market sells as "Chuck Eye" steak. Very good stuff, almost as good as rib-eye, if you're willing to work around the odd sectioning of membrane.

                                    1. re: Bada Bing

                                      It's a fantastic deal, I agree. We've caught on to the chuck eye steaks after our 'butcher' friend at Wegmans pointed us to them.

                                      We rarely buy any other steaks, hangars have gotten really expensive, sometimes we'll get rib eyes.

                                      1. re: Bada Bing

                                        Absolutely yes! At my shop, we call them "chuck Delmonico", and they are a great buy at $5/lb. I don't always have them, but when I do, I have to hope my few customers who are "in the know" aren't shopping so I get to take some of them home with me!

                                    2. Rib eye would be my first choice and Hangar steak second.
                                      I do like a good Porterhouse for being able to enjoy the different tastes of the filet half and the strip steak half.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Motosport

                                        Interestingly enough Thursday night we had the Hangar steak special at a restaurant and it was outstanding. I can't seem to find high quality hangar steak at my local markets.
                                        Last night I grilled a couple of Rib Eyes I bought at Sams Club. Also excellent but different!!

                                      2. Well it depends on the cooking method.
                                        Ribeyes are tender and flavorful for the grill or cast iron/broiler cooking.
                                        Briskets, oxtails and short ribs for braising/slow cooking.

                                        1. My first REAL steak was from a boyhood friend of my dad's who owned a couple of markets in Paris, IL. He bought the Grand Champion steer at the county fair one year, and after a decent period of proper aging invited us over for a steak feast. Potato salad, green salad, bread and meat was it. T-bones and porterhouses, flat-grilled in four big skillets, and I *THINK* I had two! Those remain my alltime favorites, bone-in ribeye right after, but that ranking will depend on the grade and the aging.

                                          1. I haven't yet asked for this but I found that there are but 2 pieces of the best sirloin to each animal. Top butt, top sirloin so far have been tougher then I expected so I was never really satisfied I was getting the right piece of meat.
                                            The best sirloin I remember was about 21/2" thick by 10" or more In length. I suppose this was the fillet of the sirloin.
                                            I have yet to ask a butcher for this but last week I came across 2 pieces In a prepacked that just said "sirloin" on the label. The width was right and It had very good marbling so I hope this weekend It's getting tested out.
                                            Ask a butcher you deal with and see what he says.
                                            That was the best sirloin I have tried since then and nothing has been like It ever since.
                                            It had very good taste and texture.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. Sirloin is the favorite here for affordable and good. Grew up eating them on holidays and birthdays at Sayler's Country Kitchen in Portland, OR home of where since 1948 if you eat the 72 oz steak and all the trimmings in an hour it is free (several women have even done it). The sizes and prices of steaks here are so good I often buy enough for a meal there and one at home left over:
                                              http://www.saylers.com/dinner.htm . I used to eat a 24 oz steak myself, and now get two meals out of one. As ate sirloin out began cooking them at home. Like they are usually mostly meat without much other stuff to worry about.

                                              Rib eyes steaks taste great but lots of things like gristle and stuff you can not chew sometimes to eat around - so usually prefer sirloin myself. New York are hard to beat if you can get them thick for a good price. Tenderloin is the best but always the most expensive. Whatever it is I like my steaks thick, over an inch. And usually go sirloin, while watch for good specials.

                                              A good thick bone-in Porterhouse (the first few larger T-bone steaks) is a more expensive favorite here special treat and worth every penny when not overcooked. To cook most any steak salt liberally (I like sea salt) and put it in a scorching hot cast iron pan for only a few minutes on each side depending on thickness. Two minutes on each side will do it and if hot enough it will make the smoke detectors go off in your house, so I cook them outside on a BBQ side burner or raging fire in a cast iron pan. Can be further cooked once browned in a 500 degree oven if very thick for a few more minutes to get the inside done or if too rare when cut into it the first time.

                                              Last week made a stew with a Rump Roast in the oven in a cast iron Dutch oven and it turned out amazing as well as tender, my boy feels one of the best ever he commented on the wonderful texture (the meat was cut in squares stayed together but melted in your mouth apart easily without much effort). I think it was $1.99 per pound on sale from Safeway. Find many meats if browned then braised they turn out well, tougher not as premium cuts of meat can be usually be made very tender by cooking it slow, not too hot, and long. Stewed meat isn't as good to me as a medium-rare steak, while the best way to cook many cuts of beef.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: smaki

                                                IMO of the "premium" cuts, tenderloin is clearly the least flavorful.

                                              2. In Canada you could buy a sirloin steak but not anymore Costco's top sirloin is always tender. Costco always has the best meat here in Alberta. As for taste I bought top sirloin in Halifax for dinner and it was tougher than anything That's Alberta Beef a sirloin tip here is good. No exaggeration. If you are in Canada the meat comes from the same supplier.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: burge

                                                  IMO, the flat iron is probably the best value cut out there- great flavor, benefits from a simple marinade in terms of tenderness, and has a good bit of margin for error when cooking(ie, won't dry out too easily). Otherwise, teres major beats out a filet very easily, costs about 1/4 the price, but you're not likely to find it at your average grocery store.

                                                  1. re: jrock645

                                                    I get excellent results simply pre-salting flat-irons and letting them sit at room temperature (but sheltered, such as in a cold oven) for an hour or two before grilling. I grill to rare and let it sit, then slice about 1/2" crosswise. (You do need to pick out the worst of the sinews still on the surface.)

                                                    The leftover slices I cross-slice again, and either use them for sandwiches or toss them briefly in hot butter to have with eggs.

                                                    My main source for flatirons is Kroger and its affiliates, Ralphs and Food 4 Less here in SoCal. They're running at around $7/lb. currently.

                                                2. For steak, I'd always pick bavette or rump.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                    I like the strip loin (Top choice) both wet aged and dry aged and sometimes a combination of both aging processes (Do my own aging). Flank and other tasty cuts that were traditionally much cheaper have become very popular and their prices are getting near strips & ribs. One of the tastiest cuts I ever had was a "Flap" steak but even that is getting pricey.

                                                    1. re: Tom34

                                                      I never understood the appeal of filet Mignon..dry, boring and expensive. Rib eye is good but can be astronomical if buying at Whole foods or other prime butcher shops. Same thing with NY strip and porter house. Count my vote also for top sirloin which happens to be budget friendly. I just posted this on this thread on May 5 where you can buy very reasonable Wagyu prime sirloin from Strube Ranch. Excuse my multiple post, I'm not affiliated with them in any way just super pleased with my experience with them and finally tasting what prime kobe steaks tastes like and want to spread the world.


                                                      1. re: zoey67

                                                        Just after the Tsunami a butcher friend scored a skid of TOP prime (Abundant Marbling) whole short loins that were destined for Japan. The filet side had as much marbling as the strip side and it was the best steak I ever ate. On a whole though I agree the average filet lacks flavor and is not worth the price.

                                                        My last whole top choice 0x1 strip loin was about $6.48 lb at Restaurant Depot in late March 2012 and was delicious (Had to look at about 30 to get a good one). I have heard whole foods is very expensive but folks on this site seem to rave about Costco top choice and I think the price may be considerably less than Whole foods.

                                                        May want to look over the whole strips at Costco, pick the one with the most marbling, let it wet age on the back of the bottom shelf of the frig for 28 days or so and then cut it up. Triple wrap or vacuum seal whats left and freeze.

                                                        1. re: zoey67

                                                          I have had the Wagyu sirloin, thin sliced and just long enough in red hot cast iron pan to sear it rare. When i do it, I treat it as one part of a top shelf surf and turf with pan seared U-10 dry diver scallops and about 4- 6 oz of king crab meat in butter.

                                                          Extreme caution has to be used cooking it though to ensure you don't melt away all that expensive marbling.

                                                    2. Braised shoulder in a good red

                                                      1. On the west coast we're getting something parted out from the shoulder, a torpedo shaped steak or roast about 8 to 9" long by about 1 1/2" thick--it's being marketed as a "Baja Steak". Tender and delicious with flavor reminiscent of a Tri Tip. It has a bit of silver skin to remove, but easy to do. Great BBQ'd or pan seared to med rare. S&P is all it needs.

                                                        1. Thought I would reanimate this thread. Bought a few Angus Flat Iron steaks at McKinnon's, and they were terrific I used a tenderizer on them, marinated them in an OJ, olive oil, garlic and herb mixture and grilled them for about 4 minutes per side. Just awesome!

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. I love steak and of course enjoy a great ribeye, porterhouse, strip or sirloin steak but this summer I started to read more about other unique steak cuts which are more flavorful and am hooked. We eat steak a few times a week and our rotation now usually includes flat iron, hanger, skirt, flap, and flank. Of them all, I love hanger the most and I find it's not tough at all and supremely flavorful.