Boneless Beef (Top) Sirloin Steak.
The top sirloin is a widely popular boneless beef steak. It is a perennial favorite on trendy restaurant menus and is often spotted proudly rendering itself on the neighbors’ backyard grill.. and maybe even yours! Those who choose a nice cut of top sirloin from the butcher’s meat counter cannot be criticised for having poor taste.
The boneless beef top sirloin is a cut from the beef sirloin subprimal which lies just behind the loin primal, as highlighted on the beef chart at the top of this page. Cuts from the sirloin, including the nowadays less popular ‘bone-in’ sirloin, are a great buy for the money. “For the money?” What does that mean? It means that, while the top sirloin – as an untouched steak right out the meat case – may have only medium tenderness, it is sold at a lower price than premium grilling steaks, such as the Ribeye or Striploin Steak. It’s a trade-off steak; what you sacrifice in tenderness, you make up for in budget, and that’s just the truth of it. But there is good news.. the boneless top sirloin is by no means a bad or tough steak! To the contrary it generally has a rich and unique beef flavor, and there are plenty of veteran meat eaters out there who swear by their top sirloins! More good news is that any cut of beef, even if it is not tender by nature, can be made tender with a simple one-two punch of marinating and slow cooking. Sure it’s a little extra time, but many feel it is well worth it for the significant savings over high end cuts of beef. And if this steak is done right, you can really turn a Norman Rockwell into a Mona Lisa!
meatshop101 Shoppers’ Tip:
When Top Sirloin steaks go on sale at your local supermarket, it is a great opportunity to stock up on a variety of excellent cuts! How? Generally, when a cut of steak is offered at a sale price, the whole piece it is produced from is also on sale. In this case, the whole piece is known as a boneless (sirloin) top butt. Butchers ‘merchandise’ this whole piece a number of different ways and into a variety of different cuts, some of which you may never even know are the same meat as your classic top sirloin steak. There are top sirloin steaks, sirloin filets, cap-off sirloins, streamlined sirloins, cap steaks, sirloin strip steaks, sirloin kabobs.. and the list goes on, but all of these and more are produced from a single whole piece (the boneless sirloin top butt) about the size of a basketball and sometimes smaller. As a suggestion, based on having cut at least a few thousand of these pieces, I would suggest the following course of action: Look for Boneless Sirloin steaks or ‘Whole Boneless Sirloins’ to go on sale in your local supermarket’s newspaper flier. Pick out a nice large piece that, when you examine it, seems to have some softness or ‘mashability’ if you will, when you push on it because this quality is usually an indication of less fat or a thinner fat cover. As noted in many other places on this site, some fat is desireable for flavor, but an overly thick outer covering of fat is not needed or recommended. Once you have selected your piece, I suggest asking your butcher to portion it for you the following way: a 2 inch sirloin roast off the front (one of the most uncommon but best oven roasts around!), then remove the cap and cut it for kabobs (this is true kabob meat for your next cookout), then portion the remainder into cap-off top sirloin stseaks at 3/4 to 1 inch apiece, and when he gets to the end where the piece is no longer good for steaks, ask him to grind the rest for ground sirloin! It’s one of many ways to portion this outstanding and very versatile piece of beef, but whatever you decide, these babies are a great investment when they are offered at an eye-catching sale price.
Boneless Beef Tri-Tip.
Depending on where you call home, you may know this cut as a ‘Triangle’ steak, or you may not know it by any name! It is one of those cuts that, in my neck of the woods (southeastern U.S.), was seldom mentioned and rarely seen in supermarket meat shops. For whatever reason, it just doesn’t seem to have ever caught on there – and in other areas – as common fare. But if you have spent alot of time in some of your classic beef cities or on parts of the west coast, it may for you be a staple item that you simply swear by!
The boneless beef tri-tip hails from the bottom sirloin, in the area where the bottom of the rib cage approaches the belly of the animal. For a muscle that contains very little fat in and of itself, the tri-tip has an outstanding reputation for flavor and tenderness. For those of you whose dinner tables or picnic tables are no stranger to this great beef cut, I am guessing you may have your own ‘under lock and key’ type of recipe and cooking method for the boneless beef tri-tip. It is one of those cuts that those who know it well know exactly how they like to prepare it. But for those of you who are saying, “Ok, I’m intrigued.. but what the heck do I do with this tri-tip?!” , brace yourself for great news! This bottom sirloin muscle is naturally tender, being mostly unused by the animal in movement and general activity, so most cooking methods will produce a wondefully tender cut of beef! In fact, there really is no need even for marinating the tri-tip unless there is a particular flavor you are wanting to create in the meat. It is certainly not necessary to marinate for the sake of tenderness, as the boneless beef tri-tip comes by that quite naturally! I have classified this cut as a grilling steak because I have every reason to believe that is the most common method of cooking, and the tri-tip will indeed perform wonderfully on the grill. I had to do my homework to know that the popularization of the tri-tip in America can be traced back to Santa Maria, California, where they are said to still make the real deal.. with wood chips and a lot of patience. Once you have cut your tri-tip teeth with some simple grilling, maybe you’ll want to try the old west coast way. The folks there would tell you that you haven’t lived until you’ve had some Santa Maria tri-tip!
meatshop101 Shoppers’ Tip:
If you are determined to try this excellent cut known as the boneless beef tri-tip (and who could blame you?!), in many supermarkets you may have to ask your butcher to special order it for you. Supermarket meat shops no longer operate like in the good ole’ days when sides of beef were recieved and so any and every cut of beef was available on request. Nowadays, each individual store within given supermarket chains, carry only those cuts that studies have determined to be in demand for the store’s area. It’s a demographics thing. Some stores sell tons of pork and relatively little beef while in others, shoppers demand mostly grilling steaks or maybe kosher meats. If no one ever asks for a tri-tip at your local supermarket, they are not likely to provide it. But again, well managed supermarket meat shops are always willing to place a special order for you if you ask.
Know beforehand that the tri-tip, depending on the size of the animal it was cut from, will vary in size from 1 and 1/2 to 3 lbs., so you can plan your event based on those weights. Regarding portions, an informed butcher will tell you that the rule of thumb calls for 1/2 lb. (or 8 oz.) boneless meat per adult and 1/4 lb. (or 4 oz.) per child. This rule is of course based on average apetites and will vary, but you can rely on this advice almost every time. I have always recommended adding a bit to the amount you estimate needing because it is always better to have a little too much than to run out before everyone is satisfied! So when you’re ready.. give the tri a try! You won’t be disappointed…