The Best Steak Cuts
Im going to attempt to give a profile and factual data to each cut of beef that LemmonMade offers. These cuts of beef are listed in order by shear force testing. (tenderness) I hope you will review this list and use it to make an informed decision. We serve the highest quality meat in the entire world, but if you take our premium product and use it for the wrong application you will probably be disappointed. A while ago I even had a customer call in and request a heel of round roast so she could serve it at a dinner party and impress her friends. She planned to serve it medium rare-like a prime rib roast. Multiple times we told her that was a poor idea, but she persisted.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone that is so bizarre your entire reality comes into question? After, the conversation I did a quick internet search to see if there was a possibility the heel of round could possibly be used to describe any other cut of meat on a beef. Wikipedia described the heel of round just as I would “one of the toughest cuts of beef” so- ultimately my opinion is just that-my opinion, so I will also include some facts about shear force testing in order to validate my opinion which is based on my experience.
I must also include that not all beef are the same and the conditions under which that animal was born, raised and harvested make a significant difference. I have had some beef where the round steaks were juicy and acceptably tender, but the vast majority are tough.
All of the beef that we sell is awesome for the intent that it was farmed, fabricated and marketed. Remember that awful heel of round I mentioned earlier? If that same tough piece of beef was pit roasted or smoked and slow cooked for 12 hours it would be an amazingly spectacular feast that really would impress, but it must be cooked accordingly. That $30 dry aged tenderloin could be cooked in a pot with potatoes and carrots and be delicious, but it wouldn’t be as good as a $5 bone in chuckroast for that application.
*** A note on shear force testing. The shear force tests which have been done in the past and will be done in the future cannot always be applied to the real world. Meat tenderness has a million variables and tenderness issues can often be overcome very easily by skilled cooking, cutting meat fibers thinner, marinating… the shear force tests are only reliable at comparing different muscles, cut to the same thickness and cooked in the same way- these tests don’t prove that you cant take a less tender muscle, and make it more tender.
If we were to rank a variety of vehicles by speed, which is only one quality that a vehicle has, the first obstacle would be to agree what course would test the cars. I guarantee the fastest car in a drag race, is not the fastest car in a rally race and meat tenderness is the same. Different cuts of meat shine in different applications. Tenderness is not the only thing that goes into a quality eating experience! I personally like meat to have some texture- I don’t want to chew it all night, but I personally love an outside skirt, bavette and hanger steak over a tenderloin.
Tenderness data is interpreted from:
Many cuts of beef are known by different names. Some of this is regional, some is marketing. We will try to list all the names that we know them by.
- Tenderloin, filet mignon.
Muscle: Psoas Major
shear force 3.07 (kg)
This cut of beef is found between the spine and kidney. It is the most tender cut of beef and generally the most expensive. It is well marbled but without excessive fat. It is a fantastic piece of meat. I cook this steak when I’m trying to get out of the doghouse and don’t want to do a bunch of dishes.
- Flat Iron, Top Blade steak
Shear force 3.2
This piece of beef is a hidden gem coming from the chuck. In fact, it’s so well hidden amongst bone, sinew and tough muscles that it’s a very recent discovery within the beef market and perhaps it’s the only great thing that the beef checkoff has produced. You will rarely see this piece of meat in grocery stores because there’s only a couple pounds on every beef and are generally gobbled up by steak houses.
- Spinalis Dorsi (ribeye cap)
Muscle: Spinalis Dorsi
Shear force 3.23
This is the outer muscle of the ribeye steak or prime rib roast. (not to be confused with the lifter meat, which has no similar properties!) You will almost never see this piece of beef anywhere but the highest quality steakhouses. We only sell it when someone buys an entire rib-loin.
- Dakota, Denver
Muscle: Serratus ventralis
Shear force: 3.54
My personal favorite meat and potato steak. This piece of beef comes from the chuck and is loaded with flavor.
- Petite tender
Muscle: Teres major
This little muscle is also located on the chuck and only weighs one or two lbs. Its generally very lean.
- Sirloin Tip steak, ball tip, knuckle
Muscle: Rectus femoris
Shear force 3.97
This is a real shocker to many including myself. To be fair, the tenderness test is done by separating the muscle and connective tissue and testing each muscle. The sirloin tip steak is generally three different muscles with connective sinew between them. Still the sirloin tip steak is a bargain.
Muscle: Serratus ventralis
Shear force: 3.97
The tri tip has become the holy grail of grilling in California. This is a weird looking piece of beef that is too big to eat whole, but odd shaped and awkward to cut into steaks. The solution? Make sure you got a couple friends to help you out and just cook it whole!
- Ranch steak, arm steak
Muscle: Biceps brachii, Triceps brachii
Shear force: 3.98, 4.38
This lean cut of beef is another sleeper. Its lean, its tender its inexpensive. Cut around the connective tissue and you have an excellent steak forvery little money.
- Muscle: Longissimus
Common name: ribeye, strip, T-bone, prime rib, Delmonico, chuck-eye
Shear force: 4.07-4.2
Finally we have arrived at the real steak muscle! Surprised to see it so far down the list? If the longissimus muscles aren’t the most tender, why are they so popular and expensive? Because there’s a lot more that goes into a great steak besides tenderness!
All of these steaks have great marbling and… drum roll…they are big and easy to cut! Honestly this is probably why all these cuts are so popular and in demand. The loin, which is predominantly made up of spinalis (amazing marbling, and tenderness) and longissimus (mediocre tenderness and marbling) muscles is long and uniform in shape. On a big beef the loin can be almost three feet long, while most of the previous cuts of beef are tiny muscles and they are encapsulated in sinew. Most butchers don’t know how to get them out, or don’t want to work that hard. To further discourage a hardworking butcher, the average consumer won’t buy many of the earlier cuts of beef anyway because they never had those cuts of beef at Christmas dinner when they were growing up, so how can they be any good?
Currently there is a massive labor shortage in meat packing plants across the country. It takes lots of time and effort and messed up product to teach someone how to economically remove a flat iron, Dakota, petite tender… while just about anyone can chunk them up into a chuck roast and send them out the door for $6, or grind them into burger for $5. It’s a ton of extra work and if you only get $1 extra and then loose $2 in chuck roast you end up going backwards economically and that’s why you rarely see many of the most tender steaks on the shelf.
The good news for you is that you now know that many of the most tender steaks are much cheaper! Reading this article could save you thousands of dollars over your steak eating life.
So stop into our shop within The Market and buy yourself one of the steaks you’ve never had and then share a pic on facebook and tag us, so we can afford to continue cutting the worlds best meat at the worlds cheapest prices!