In the first part of grilling steaks we went over the 3 main types of beef cuts and how to best enjoy them.
The first article discussed group 1 which is from the loin and has the most tender cuts which lend themselves to quick grilling over high heat.
Group 2 meats are from the hind leg, the lower side and a few select cuts from the shoulder.
Top round London broil
- The cuts from the hind leg are usually referred to as “rounds” and are some of the leanest steaks with very mild taste. Top round is the largest muscle and often cut into 1.5-2.5” steaks sold as London broil weighing from 1.5-3lbs. It is often tenderized and marinated before grilling and sliced thin when serving. Roasted whole it becomes the roast beef sold in delis. Eye round is a smaller cut, whole it is about 2-5lbs and works as a smaller roast beef. It is often sold as round steaks, about 4” across and cut relatively thin, about ½” thick. It is good to tenderize and marinate the steaks as they have more connective tissues and will become more tender that way. This is also why they are usually cut thin. This steak can also be made into cube steaks which is a machine that tenderizes the steak by making incisions to cut through the connective tissues. The bottom round, rump roast or silverside is a cut a little more then 2X the size of the eye round and about ½ the size of the top round. It is the classic pot roast and due to a lot of connective tissue in the meat, not well suited for the grill. The “knuckle” or sirloin tip steak sits next to the sirloin. It is combined of 3 muscles and very lean. This steak is best used for cube steak, tenderized and marinated to reduce toughness. Pieces of the knuckle, eye round and top round can be marinated and used for kabob meat.
Above is outside skirt steak on the grill and below – untrimmed and cleaned
- Lower side wall cuts include the tri-tip, sirloin flap, flank steak, hanger steak and inside and outside skirt steak. The steaks in this category should be cooked slower and more carefully as the fibers usually run the long way so it takes longer to cook properly. Marinating these cuts greatly improves them. It is also important to slice the meat across the grain to render it tender. Tri-tip is a cut next to the sirloin, triangular in shape and weighs 1-2lbs. The Sirloin also has a cap which is similar in size and shape to the tri-tip. This cut is also marketed as either tri-tip or sirloin tri-tip. Tri-tip is popular in California where it originated. Next to the tri-tip is the sirloin flap also known as sirloin tip. This is a long thin strip, similar too skirt steak, slightly thicker and wider however. It has very nice flavor and is quite tender. There are 2 types of skirt steak, inside which is wider, thinner and longer. It should be marinated and grilled carefully to avoid over cooking. Outside skirt is slightly thicker and smaller. It is beefy tasting and slightly fibrous. The outside skirt is preferable to the inside one. Flank steak is a uniformly thick steak, about 1” thick, and properly cooked it is nice and tender. Often used for fajitas. Lastly there is the hanger steak which is deliciously rich tasting steak with grainy texture. Often sold in one piece, it should be separated from the thick membrane which runs through the center of it. Hanger steak is delicious grilled rare or medium rare with herb or garlic butter or a shallot vinaigrette to savor the meats natural delicacy.
Hanger steak untrimmed, trimmed and with the center membrane removed, butterflied on the grill. Delicious.
- From the front shoulder there are a few steaks which are good for grilling but care should be taken when they are produced as well as grilled to avoid pieces of silver skin and sinew which will be unpalatable to bite into and chew. Flat iron steak from the top blade is rather thin but tasty. It is traditionally used for “steak frites” in bistros. Chuck eye and Delmonico are the first couple of steaks on the chuck after the rib eye. Delicious in flavor and usually tender they can have quite a bit of fat on them. Chuck tender is a smaller round cut from the shoulder that can be marinated and grilled in steaks. Boneless short rib sliced thin is tasty and juicy, be careful not to cut it too thick and make sure it is cut across the grain. Lastly there are London broil steaks cut from the shoulder, when tenderized and marinated they can be good but due to a lot of connective tissue in the meat they may be slightly tough.
Flat iron steak and shoulder steaks
- Burgers are probably the most popular item for the grill. Fresh ground is always the best. There are a number of “mixes” out there referred to as the “butchers choice” or other names. Most ground beef is a mix of trim from different cuts and the usual lean to fat mix is 80-85% lean which is a good blend. Extra lean or sirloin will be milder and drier if cooked more then medium. If you like your burger rare to medium rare it may be worth having it ground fresh and using a lean mix 90-95% lean. Ground tenderloin will be very mild and, if cooked more then medium, dry as well. Good mixes are short rib/hanger steak/ brisket and chuck as the meat flavor is richer and it has good fat content. Your burger will be juicy and delicious. Flavored burgers are also popular, some good choices are onion burger with dry onion soup mix blended into the meat, bacon and cheddar you mix with bacon bits and shredded cheddar most cheeses like bleu, swiss or mozzarella are good but make sure you cook the burgers through so the cheese melts. And then there are toppings, besides cheese and bacon you can experiment with pretty much anything you desire.
Hanger steak Gascon with Ratatouille and freshly dug potatoes is one of my favorites. What is your favorite?
Have a great time grilling and enjoy the summer!