Published September 1, 2005.
Tired of paying $12 a pound for porterhouse or T-bone? We tested 12 'cheap' steaks to find out how to save money without skimping on flavor or texture.
It's hard to know what you're buying when you pick up a "steak" in the grocery store. Names differ from region to region, some cuts are wonderfully tender while others are hopelessly tough, and some recipes recommend cuts that are almost impossible to find, leaving the consumer to make a blind substitution. Given the confusion, many consumers play it safe by falling back on expensive cuts.
We wanted to find the best "cheap" steaks--priced under $6.99/pound--that would deliver solid beefy flavor and tender texture.
We first visited meat purveyors to learn what makes some steaks more expensive than others as well as to decipher all the different names. After sorting through the confusion, we were left with a list of 12 candidates. We cooked them as we would any steak, creating a nice sear on both sides without overcooking or allowing the fond to burn. Tasters judged most to be too tough and/or lacking beefy flavor ,while others were livery or gamy. We tried a variety of preparation methods--salting, aging, tenderizing, marinating--but none really improved flavor and texture. In the end, only two cuts earned favored status: boneless shell sirloin steak (aka top butt) and flap meat steak (aka sirloin tips).list of recipes