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Steaks are meals that are loved by the majority of people. If you want to know more about the T-bone steak, we have compiled a guide for you. You will know everything about the steak. We have also provided information on the different methods of cooking it and how to choose the best steak. Read on to know everything about the T-bone steak.
What is T-bone Steak?
The T-bone steak is a beef cut from the short loin (or sirloin). It includes a T-shaped lumbar vertebra with each side having abdominal internal oblique muscle. Porterhouse steaks come from the rear end of the short loin. This is why they have a large strip steak and a larger portion of tenderloin steak.
T-bone is cut closer to the front. This is why they have a smaller section of tenderloin. When a T-bone is sold alone, it is usually referred to as filet mignon. It’s the case when the cut is from the small forward end of the tenderloin.
Meat experts are of different opinions when it comes to T-bone steaks. Some agree that the size of the tenderloin will determine the difference between a T-bone steak and a porterhouse. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the difference is clear.
A porterhouse needs to be at least 32mm (1 ¼ inch) wide at its widest. For T-bone, it is at least 13mm (0.05 inches). However, steaks with larger tenderloin are usually called T-bone in steakhouses and restaurants despite them technically being porterhouse.
One of the highest quality steaks in the world is T-bone steaks. This is due to their large size. Additionally, their quality is derived from the cut. They are of the most prized cuts of beef namely tenderloin and short loin.
Prices for the steak at restaurants and steakhouses are high. Porterhouse steaks are pricier owing to their larger tenderloin. In the US, porterhouse meat-cutting classification is IMPS 1173 and T-bone is IMPS 1174.
Anatomy of the T-bone
To get a T-bone steak, you need to saw in half the lumbar vertebra through the vertebral column. The transverse process of the vertebra is the downward prong of the “T”. The spinal muscles are the flesh surrounding the “T”.
Cooking a T-bone Steak
The reason why T-bone steak is a favorite choice is it offers two unique steak experiences in one. Hearty strip steak complemented perfectly with butter-tender filet mignon. The grill is the best way to cook T-bone steak. However, broiled or pan-seared are other great cooking options. Use our cooking instructions below to cook your T-bone steak to perfection.
There are three main methods of grilling a T-bone steak:
- Sear and roast
- Reverse sear
Sear and Roast
One of the best ways to cook a large T-bone is searing it over high and direct heat, then finish cooking by moving it to indirect heat. It is a popular cooking method among chefs all over the world. Go for the highest heat you can get if you want a great sear on your uncooked T-bone.
If you are using a charcoal grill, fill it with coals and wait for it to finish lighting, just when the coals are covered in gray ash. If you use a batch of briquettes, your thermometer should read about 650° Fahrenheit° (343° Celsius). You can get an extra 50° F higher with lump charcoal.
This level of heat sears the steak beautifully. For the best result, flip the steak every 30 seconds or so. The move will maximize the crust and cook it evenly. For a medium-rare result, transfer it to the cool side of the grill after the meat has browned to your liking. Position it so the strip loin faces the fire.
Cover the grill and let the steak cook until the temperature reaches about 125°F or 52°C. Remove it and let it rest for about 10 minutes. When you slice the tenderloin and strip loin, both should have a rosy-red and soft center. The grayness around the edges should not be too much. Enjoy!
If you are looking for a more edge-to-edge and even cook, this is the way to go. The method swaps the searing and roasting. The steak is seared over direct heat after it is brought up over indirect heat to about 5° F less than you desired final doneness.
The process offers a steak that’s more evenly red. Since the exterior of the meat has less moisture after it’s been cooking for a while, it is a more effective way to sear. To achieve perfect doneness in the tenderloin and strip loin, you need a strategic roasting position.
Place the steak on the grill in a way that the tops of the tenderloin and strip loin face the fire. Since the tops of these sections are larger than the rest of the steak, they need to face the fire because they will take longer to cook.
Keep your eye on the thermometer and tenderloin because it cooks faster than the strip.
Broiling a T-bone Steak
Cooking a steak indoors doesn’t match the experience of outdoor grilling. However, the result can be surprising. If you do it right, the difference between a grilled and broiled T-bone is minimal. Here’s how to broil your T-bone to get the best results.
What You Need
- T-bone steaks (preferably 2-inches thick)
- Aluminum foil
- Instant-read or meat thermometer
- Long-handled tongs
- High-temperature cooking oil
- Sea salt or coarse kosher salt
- Paper towels
- Dry spice rub or liquid marinade if desired
Use the paper towels to blot your steak and remove any excess surface moisture. Use kosher salt or sea salt to season it generously. Let it rest for about an hour. You can also let it rest for one or two days. This will allow the salt to dissolve so it can be absorbed into the meat.
In the upper third of your oven, position a rack. This is where your broiler pan will sit. The ideal distance is 4 to 5 inches from the broiler element. Preheat the broiler.
If you wish, massage the steak with a dry spice rub or brush it with a liquid marinade. If you choose to use the dry spice rub or you want to broil it plainly, spray the meat with high-temperature vegetable oil first. On a spice-rubbed steak, it reduces the chances of burning your spices. And it promotes browning on a plain steak.
Place the T-bone on your broiler pan. Don’t have one? You can use a heavy sheet pan lined with foil. Place a wire trivet on top of the pan as a platform for your steak. Just like with a broiler pan, the rendered-out fat of the steak will drip away and be captured underneath.
Position the meat directly below the broiler element when you put it into your oven. Some electric ovens are designed with a notch on the hinges. They are designed to allow you to leave the oven slightly open when you broil. Consult the owner’s manual to ensure it is the correct procedure for your specific oven.
Use the highest setting on your range’s vent hood and open your kitchen windows. Broiling, like grilling, generates billows of smoke. This is why cooking steaks outdoors is more enjoyable than indoors.
Broil the steak on each side for about 10 minutes. It will depend on your preferred level of doneness and the thickness of the meat. As you turn, position the steak with its bone-facing you. It is easy to grasp with a pair of tongs when you are turning or done cooking.
Place an instant-read or meat thermometer horizontally into the strip loin side. Do this to measure the correct temperature as you remove the steak from the oven. Ideally, it should read about 130°F for medium-rare or 120° to 125° F for a rare steak.
Place the steak under a loose cover of aluminum foil and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy with your desired accompaniments.
T-bone steaks have a large surface area. If you buy individual portions, they will be thin. For broiling, it is recommended you get a single large steak with a minimum of 1 ¼ inch and a maximum of 2-inches thickness. They easily weigh about a pound or more making them great for a meal for two.
The strip loin part of the steak is usually fatter than the tenderloin. This means it cooks at a greater level of doneness at the same time. To avoid this, fold a piece of aluminum loosely over the tenderloin for the first 5 to 9 minutes of cooking time. Use your tongs to remove the foil after the stipulated duration. Foil deflects heat allowing for a slower cook on the underlying tenderloin.
Pan Frying a T-bone Steak
A T-bone steak develops a savory and richly browned crust that’s unparalleled when cooked in a heavy skillet. This makes pan-frying a steak a technique any steak enthusiast should master. So how do you go about it?
What You Need
- Instant-read thermometer
- Paper towels
- High-temperature cooking oil
- Heavy cast-iron skillet
- Sea salt or kosher salt
- T-bone steak
Season the meat with sea salt or kosher salt for about one hour before you start cooking. The duration allows the meat juices to dissolve the salt. Additionally, the meat’s muscle will reabsorb the briny liquid.
Place your heavy skillet over your electric coil or burner and turn on your stove to medium-high. The superlative heat retention of the cast-iron skillet makes it the best pan for this cooking method.
Heat the skillet to the point it smokes slightly and shimmers. It is the point you can easily smell the hot metal. Pour a tablespoon of your high-temperature cooking oil such as avocado oil, safflower oil, or grapeseed oil into the pan. Swirl it to evenly coat the surface.
Use paper towels to blot the steak scrupulously to make sure its surface is dry. Gently lay the steak on the pan. Do not drop it in as this will splatter the oil. Sear it for a minute or two on the first side. Turn it and sear the second side for a minute.
Lower the heat to medium heat. Position the meat to one side of the skillet. Ensure the smaller tenderloin area rides slightly up the sloped side of your pan. This side cooks faster than the well-marbled strip loin side of the steak. Use this technique to raise it slightly above the skillet’s surface to equalize cooking time.
Cook it until you determine it is at your preferred doneness. Do not forget to turn it in every 30 to 60 seconds. If you are using a typical 1 ¼ inch thickness, cook for 12 minutes on each side for medium-rare. Cook for 8 to 9 minutes on each side for rare.
Insert the instant-read thermometer to test the meat’s doneness. A medium-rare steak should read 130° F and rare will read 120°F to 125° F. When the steak is ready, remove it from the pan and let it rest for at least 5 minutes before you serve.
A stainless-steel pan with a heavy aluminum or copper core or an extra-heavy cast aluminum pan is a great substitute for a cast-iron pan. Some cookbooks and chefs argue that turning a steak once is the best way to cook them.
Turning once simplifies the process of managing several steaks while preserving the pretty grill marks. Frequent flipping is the better technique. For starters, it provides more even cooking and better heat transfer. The result is a steak that is cooked all the way through without an overcooked or burnt outer layer.
To properly measure readiness, it is wise to remove the steak when it is 5° less than the temperatures listed below. The centers continue to warm as the steak rests:
- Well 165°F – Uniformly brown
- Medium-Well 155°F – Outer portion is brown, the center is slightly pink
- Medium 145°F – Outer portion is brown, the center is light pink
- Medium-Rare 135°F – Slightly brown towards the outside, the center is very pink
- Rare 125°F – Pinkish towards the outside, the center is bright red
How to Buy Steaks
Steaks are not all created the same. You find all types of beef cuts at your local beef store or supermarket with the label “steak”. This does not mean they are steaks. Sirloin, tip, round, blade, and chuck steak are not the best steaks for preparing the “perfect” steak. So how do you get a good steak?
The first thing you need to find out is the source of the steak. Some steaks, especially from food stores and supermarkets, are well marketed. The downside is they never taste as good as one that has been properly sourced. There are three main things you need to consider when you are looking for a good steak. They are:
Meat from animals that have been reared on grass has matured better with time. They have a fuller flavor and are richer due to this fact. The flavor of the meat depends on the diet and the time it takes to mature. A high-quality diet for beef comes from grass. Meat from animals reared using processed foods matures quickly. This means it does not get time to get the best flavor.
Grass-fed animals have the advantage of high proportions of minerals, vitamins, and Omega3. The reason is such animals feed on legumes, wildflowers, and wild grass. Animals that feed on grass treated with pesticides or are intensively fertilized do not have the same benefit.
If you look at meat closely, you will notice some cuts have a deeper red color, with an orange color to the fat. This is created by beta-carotene in the diet. It is also a sign of the presence of Vitamin A, an antioxidant. This is the best meat for the best steaks. These are reasons why grass-fed cattle provide the best steaks in the world.
The Marbling Factor
Everyone wants a good steak. If you are looking for a T-bone or Ribeye steak, marbling will play a crucial factor in your decision-making process. The good news is you can easily distinguish a high-quality steak from one with lower quality. All you need to do is pay close attention as you are looking at the steak. Marbling is the art of looking for specific qualities that distinguish a high-quality steak from one with lesser quality.
Marbling is a term used to describe the little flecks of fat occurring naturally within the meat’s muscle. The rule of thumb is the more marbling the more flavor you get. There is a good chance you will notice steaks with more marbling are higher priced than those with less marbling.
Next time you go to a butcher shop, food store, or supermarket, make sure you check out the marbling. You will notice a different price even if you are purchasing the same type of steak.
Quality designations such as select, choice, and prime are common and may be helpful. Unfortunately, not every store or meat vendor offers these designations. In case you come across them, prime is the best quality. The second runner-up is choice with select coming in last. All these quality designations are based on marbling. Always remember marbling is the determining factor of the quality of steak.
When you purchase steaks from supermarkets, there is a limitation to the steaks that are in the meat case or on the shelf. On the other hand, in a specialty meat store or butcher shop, the butcher cuts the steak for you. This means you can specify the thickness of your steak.
The ideal thickness is anything from 1 ¼ to 1 ½ inch. An inch may be too thin while 2 inches may be too thick. If you look at the majority of recipes for cooking steaks, this is the ideal thickness. When the steak is too thin, you risk missing out on the experience of enjoying a juicy steak. You also risk overcooking the meat. The opposite problem occurs when you cook a steak that is too thick.
If you aren’t careful, you can have the inside undercooked despite cooking the outside to perfection. Additionally, 2 inches or more of steak is awkward to eat. That said, the perfect steak is about 1 ½ inches thick.
Type of Beef for the Best Steak
Aging is another factor you need to consider when you are purchasing steaks. All beef is aged before you can buy it from a supermarket or butcher store. There are two beef aging methods; dry and wet. The latter is aged in vacuum bags. This is a common form of aging beef in supermarkets. Most high-end beef is dry-aged beef. It is preferred because it produces a more intense flavor.
Dry-aged beef is usually hung in a cooler for some time depending on the quality desired. In most cases, this is about a few weeks. The cooler uses humidity-controlled conditions to drain out excess moisture. The first benefit is it allows the flavor to concentrate. Secondly, the natural enzymes of the meat break down some of the connective tissue that makes the steak tough. The result is beef that is flavorful and tenderized.
It is uncommon to find dry-aged beef in a supermarket. A specialty food store or butcher shop is the best place to find this type of beef. Take note you pay a higher price for the superior quality and flavor. One of the reasons is dry-aged beef has less moisture meaning it has less weight compared to a regular steak.
Another benefit of dry-aged beef is it is trimmed more. The butcher needs to charge more to compensate for the chunks and bits that were trimmed off. Even though this type of beef costs more, the tenderness and flavor are worth it.
T-bone Steak FAQs
Answer: Not really. One advantage is you get two steaks in one when you go for a T-bone steak. This is a treat especially if you are a steak lover. Secondly, T-bones stay nice and juicy while packing a lot of flavors as long as you cook them properly. Lastly, they are between one and two inches thick which is a good size, especially for grilling. If these are all things you would like, then it is a good steak for you.
Answer: Keep in mind T-bone steak is a tender steak. You can make it tenderer by flash cooking over dry heat by grilling or broiling. According to the American Meat Science Association, this is the best way to go. Homemade meat marinades rely mostly on acidic mediums like vinegar or lemon juice to tenderize the meat.
Answer: Ribeye is the steak with the most flavor. The cut comes from the most flavorful part of the animal. Additionally, it comes with the most marbling. This combination provides superior taste when cooked the right way.
Answer: Chewiness may be the result of undercooked meat that fails to melt the fat in the beef. Furthermore, undercooked beef may also cause food poisoning and an upset stomach. On the other hand, overcooked steak ends up being chewy, dry, and hard because it burns through all the fat.
Answer: If filet mignon is your idea of the best steak, then go for Porterhouse. It has a more substantial amount of tenderloin filet. The T-bone has a much more even distribution of the strip and tenderloin portion.
From the above information, you learn everything you need to know about T-bone steak. The cooking options are among the best recipes you can find online. Always remember to check the marbling of your steak before you purchase. Now you can go, get a good cut of T-bone, cook it, and enjoy!