Plan on doing some barbecuing this summer? Whether it’s a weekend barbecue, weeknight pool party, or a long lunch and a big appetite, there’s no wrong time for grilling up a fat T-bone or a nicely marbled sirloin. But to stick with the same cuts of meat all the time is a shame. Because the world of meat is rich with interesting options, from under-the-radar, butcher-approved cuts to fresh takes on old favorites. (Don’t believe us? The late, great Anthony Bourdain agreed, himself a fan of “the nasty bits.”) The best meat to grill this summer may just be the one you least expected or have never heard of.
It’s easy to stare at a selection of meat at your neighborhood butchers and default to the same old steaks you always buy. That’s why we called in Josh Evans to ask him for a few recommended under-the-radar cuts. As an executive chef at Longhorn Steakhouse, he spends his days helping to create and refine the beef-centric menu at the restaurant’s more than 500 locations. Here are five of Evans’ favorite under-appreciated cuts of meat that you should pick up for your next session over the grill.
1. Steak Tips
These super tender, flavor-packed cuts are beloved in the Northeast. They come from the flat iron cut taken from the shoulder of the cow. To prepare, Evans recommends a marinade of soy sauce, Worcestershire, garlic, and herbs. Let the meat rest for at least four hours, then cook to medium rare in a hot cast iron pan with sautéed onions and mushrooms. Serve with mashed potatoes and, if you’re feeling adventurous, take some of the marinade, thicken it with a bit of flour or corn starch, and serve it as a sauce on top. It’s delicious.
2. Churrasco (a.k.a. Skirt Steak)
A tender cut from the belly of the cow, Churrasco is especially popular in the Southeast. Evans says that a marinade of garlic, lime juice, oil, and fresh herbs works beautifully for this selection. Grill over an open flame, being careful not to go much further than medium-rare, or you risk it drying the thin cut to shoe leather. Slice it against the grain and serve with a fresh chimichurri sauce.
3. Ribeye Cap Steak and Ribeye Filet
These cuts, per Evans, are the most flavorful part of the ribeye. The cap is the outer muscle and is highly marbled throughout (read: plenty of juicy, runny fat). The inner ribeye filet is tender and more flavorful than a traditional filet and, if you can’t get one directly from the butcher, you can cut directly from a prime rib roast. No marinade is needed here; use the “Big Four” spices of salt, pepper, granulated garlic, and granulated onion. Season liberally and cook to your desired temperature.
4. Manhattan Filet
The Manhattan Filet is a thick New York Strip cut down to resemble a filet, which is more manageable and less prone to evoking heartburn for most people. Still, it’s a thicker cut, which Evans says allows you to easily get that glorious combination of a great outer crust and perfect medium-rare center. [Fans self with spatula] As far as seasoning is concerned, Evans recommends nothing but some heavy black pepper and a nice toasted brown butter sauce. Mmmm, toasted.
5. Zabuton (a.k.a. Denver Steak)
Marbling is the reason you should go out and buy this cut, which comes from the chuck. It’s worth it to go for a higher grade of beef for the extra marbling (again: delicious fat) before cooking it like a standard steak or, if you’re feeling patient, “low and slow” on the grill to medium-rare. Go nuts with the seasoning; per Josh, it’s a rich cut that will reward a heavy hand.
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