Beef recipes - Steaks & Ribs

Steaks

Since grass-fed steaks cook much faster than conventional steaks, and are very easy to over-cook, please check out Cooking tips if you're not already a grass-fed beef cooking pro.  

For the hero steak cuts that are supremely flavorful and also tender and marbled (e.g., Ribeye, NY Strip) we like to prepare them extremely simply (salt, pepper, maybe some butter and garlic) so no elaborate recipes for them! 

Less famous but with also with impressive flavor-marbling-tenderness profiles, the Flatiron and Denver steaks we also tend to prepare with minimal seasoning, as well as the Chuck Eye steak, which is the lesser-known next-door-neighbor of the Ribeye (it comes from the same muscle, after it crosses from the Rib to the Chuck primal). 

Cuts that are tender but lean -- such as Filet Mignon -- may benefit from sautéing or serving with fattier sauces. Steak Diane is one classic way to add an unctuous sauce to a lean cut, and there are a million recipes on the internet that will also guide you through Diane's dramatic flambé step -- this down-to-earth take skips the open fire and also subs in the lesser-known butcher's cut called Petite Tender (sometimes referred to by the muscle it comes from: Teres Major). 

Sirloin steak isn't quite as tender as the steaks above, but it can stand up to high heat, and it doesn't need a lot of seasoning, as Alton Brown outlines here. But you can also reasonably marinate it as you would a less tender cut. 

The less tender steak cuts will shine best with a marinade, and in any case we all need some variety, so here are three marinade styles you can try out on a range of your steak cuts. For Ranch steak, Tender Medallions and other lean steaks (or even Sirloin steak), here's a nice recipe that uses a marinade and also complements the meat up with reliable companions mushroom and onion, and here's a recipe we use for kebabs whose simple marinade is also a great choice for Tender Medallions and these other lean steaks. (Detail on kebabs and other beef miscellaneous cuts here.)

Another great option for leaner cuts like these is the Swiss Steak recipe, in this case, skipping the "Swissing" (a type of manual tenderizing) and using a braise to turn these cuts tender. 

We also have this Ranch steak recipe recommendation from subscriber Brittany M. of Southeast DC (thanks, Brittany!), which complements the beefy steak with tangy, herbal chimichurri. And we find Minute steak works great as a Chicken-Fried Steak, and it's also nicely suited for dressing up with your favorite spice and condiment mix in sandwiches.  

Frozen in its packaging, Chipped steak looks like a thick block. But upon thawing you'll see it's actually comprised of ultra-thin slices. These, friends, can be used for the Philly Cheesesteak, and its lesser-known but totally bombastic New Englander cousin the Steak Bomb.  In our family we also use this cut in Hot Pots!  (To be sure, many recipes call for shaved Ribeye as the thin cut of choice, and those would be delicious, but for everyday cooking, Chipped steak - which comes from the Round - is a solid everyday option.) 

Chipsteak becoming CheesesteakChipped steak becoming Cheesesteaks

The Flat Steaks

Flank, Skirt, Hanger and Bavette: These are the Flat Steaks. Characterized by deep flavor, rippling textures and natural form --they're not cut from larger muscles but are butchered "as is" - these steaks have a lot in common with each other. For one thing, they all shine with marinades. Additionally, because of their fibrous quality they all need to be sliced against the grain to maximize tenderness. 

The Flat Steaks also have some differences that ace home cooks can take advantage of:

Cut

Cooking

Temperature range

Flank

  • High heat (Grill or pan)

Rare to Medium

Skirt

  • Very high heat (Grill or pan)

Medium-rare to Medium

Bavette

  • Very high heat (Grill or pan)
  • Reverse sear, or sous vide and sear
  • Braise

Medium-rare to Medium

Hanger

  • Remove silverskin and separate halves
  • Very high heat (Grill or pan)
  • Reverse sear, or sous vide and sear

Medium-rare to Medium

As for preparations, to start with, all of these steaks make great fajitas, tacos or burritos. For Cuban Ropa Vieja, Flank is preferred and Bavette is a solid second choice.  Outside of our region, New Englanders turn Bavette (whose prosaic name in English is Sirloin Flap, or Flap Meat) into what they call Steak Tips. Some say Flank is the original London Broil steak (though as we note below, we use a slice of Top Round for ours). 

Hanger is commonly a centerpiece rather than an ingredient, as it is chili-glazed and grilled here. For what it's worth, Hanger was reportedly Anthony Bourdain's favorite steak, particularly as Onglet Gascon (in the Les Halles Cookbook).  But the other Flats do just fine as centerpieces, as well -- as they're prepared here, with umami punches from Worcestershire sauce and anchovy filets. 

Ribs

Short Ribs are Just. So. Versatile.  They braise wonderfully: We like this Anne Burrell recipe whose piquant sauce is easy to make because it blends rather than chops the veggies, and this Korean-style braise modified by Smitten Kitchen

You can of course smoke Short Ribs -- Texans are the world champs at this Maybe less intuitively, according to the culinary-science nerds at SeriousEats, there's no better cut for grilling, either!  In this take on grilled shorties, a clever use of ice cubes adds moisture while grilling.  

Back Ribs don't have as much meat on the bone as the Shorties, but they are very, very tasty. In his brazen Triple-C recipe, Meathead Goldwyn layers on chili... coffee... and cocoa... Seriously.  

Steak-Roast In-Betweeners: Some highlights

In this inelegantly-named category, we cover a few cuts that look something like roasts, and do have a bit in common with roasts, but are generally prepared like steaks. (Key to all of them: Cut the against the grain when serving.)

London Broil can be a little confusing. First, to get one thing out of the way: London Broil was not created in England but rather here in the US Mid-Atlantic! - in Philadelphia, in the inter-War years, according to James Beard.  London Broil is a preparation style that can be applied to various cuts; your Near Country London Broil cuts come from the Top Round. But what good butchers and cooks do with London Broil is create a steak from a roast - yes, using high-heat cooking. Here's a recipe that has the key marinating and cooking steps well laid out. 

Coulotte is the French name (and Picanha the Portuguese name) for the cut that in English is more blandly known as rump cap or sirloin cap. The reason it's more commonly known by its international names is because while Americans mostly haven't figured out what to do with the cut, the cut is a fixture in Brazilian steakhouses and French bistros -- as a matter of fact, for those of you who know the DC-area Medium Rare restaurants, whose limited-by-design bistro menu revolves around steak frites, it's Coulotte/Picanha that they exclusively serve. To prepare your Coulotte, most recipes will guide you to trim the fat cap and slice up the large roast-like cut into individual steaks, then lightly season and reverse-sear. We like this recipe that guides you through the prep and adds a mushroom cream sauce.     

Then there's Tri-Tip. A big deal in California, this cut is barely known around our region. But there's a reason why Left Coasters dig on this triangular shaped muscle: It's flavorful, and pretty easy to grill, whether you complement it simply with garlic bread or prepare it as they do in Santa Maria, California, with a special salsa. Tri-Tip is also great for entertaining. Why? The tapered end will cook more fully than the wide end, giving you a gradient of finished temperatures with which you can accommodate your guests varying tastes.

To see how these In-Betweeners fit into the roast universe, check out the summary table on the Roasts & Miscellany page

 

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