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In Praise of Blade

In these straitened times, prime rib or New York steaks may be out of reach for many of us on a regular basis, yet we still crave a good beefy steak to make at home. May I say a few words in support of the humble blade steak?

I've tried "top sirloin", and "inside" or "outside" round (I gave up on flank years ago, it's more expensive than prime rib these days!), but I keep coming back to blade. The other three have even less marbling than the blade, to me, and less flavour. I typically cover my steak with Montreal steak spice (mostly salt and pepper, but a few other flavours thrown in), and grill for a few minutes on each side to leave a deep red centre. I also make sure to trim as much connective tissue off it beforehand.

I realize blade will not be as tender as the more expensive cuts (which is one reason I won't grill it beyond rare), so when I dig in, I tend to cut very thin slices, which both extends the experience and increases the enjoyability - if it's not quite "melt in your mouth", it's quite close. A simple salad and a baked potato, and I have an excellent dinner for less than $5.

So, what do you say, CH'ers? What is your favourite of the less expensive cuts? (i.e. no New Yorks, filets, T-bones, Porterhouses, etc.). I've heard many speak of the "tri-tip", but I've never seen that offered in Canada - does it go by another name here, and in any case, where does it fit in the relative price point field?

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  1. The tri-tip is the bottom sirloin. It's my favorite inexpensive steak. It tends to be on the lean side, but has a great beefy flavor. It can be a bit chewy, but cook it mid-rare and cut it across the grain and nobody's going to complain.

    1 Reply
    1. re: alanbarnes

      There's nothing better than tri-tip on the grill! Many of us Californians grew up with it; funny that it's such a regional cut.

      I like to marinate it for 20-30 minutes in a mixture of soy sauce, worchestershire, bourbon, rosemary, garlic, and olive oil (a hybrid of two restaurant marinades I've liked). Doesn't tenderize the meat but the flavor's great.

    2. We're with you on the blade steak. As you and alanbarnes say, cook it only to rare and cut across the grain. The flavor is great. My husband turned me on to this 20 years ago. I was, like, oh no, don't be ridiculous, you can't do that. Changed my tune very quickly. We serve it to guests and they'd never guess how cheap it is --- except we always blab about that kind of thing :) Hopefully your post will turn on others to these unsung heroes.

      1. I like the top sirloin.

        1. Blade is great. It's the same muscle (infraspinatus) as the flat iron, just cut differently. Flat iron has the central connective tissue removed.

          As to economy, I like to wait until 7 bone chuck roast goes on sale, then pull the piece of blade meat out if it to use for steak. The rest of the roast gets collagen-busting treatments.

          more infos here:
          http://www.google.com/#q=blade+steak+....

          Also see "top blade trim" video at this site:
          http://bovine.unl.edu/bovine3D/eng/fa...

          In this cross section thru the chuck roast, the infraspinatus of our discussion is on the lower right. Note the connective tissue in the center.
          http://bovine.unl.edu/bovine3D/eng/Sh...

          2 Replies
          1. re: FoodFuser

            I have noticed that beef prices have been ridiculous for years now, even before the economy started to tank. It is more economical to purchase a good cut of beef in a restaurant prepared for you than to make it yourself.

            1. re: Sean

              Dunno where you've been shopping lately, but I just bought a whole PSMO tenderloin at Costco for $8 a pound. Whole ribeyes were $5 or so. Tri-tip? $4. If USDA Choice meat from Costco isn't good enough for you, how 'bout some way-beyond-prime American Wagyu? The ribeye was $24 per pound, and the round was $5.

              So if you can point me to a restaurant that serves an 8-ounce filet for $5 (or a 12-ounce Wagyu ribeye for $20), I'll agree with you that it's more economical to buy beef out than to cook it at home. Not just that, I'll follow you around like a puppy...

          2. Interesting article about how the cow industry has changed cuts of meat - looking for more to sell at a lesser cost:

            http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/29/din...

            1 Reply
            1. re: alwayscooking

              That's the article I was thinking of when I read the OP!! I read it last wednesday