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Foodie Tips

5 Uncommon Beef Cuts: What They Are & How To Cook Them

Have you ever had friends or family over for dinner and wanted to serve a fancy steak dinner but can’t afford the price tag that comes with the common cuts of steak? 

Filet mignon, ribeye, top sirloin, porterhouse – the list goes on and on, but you tend to have the same options store to store. 

Reach out to a local butcher and try these not-so-common cuts of steak that are a little easier on the wallet and taste just as great. 

Not sure how to cook them? We have you covered there too. 

1. Oxtail 

What It Is

Common in Korean and Italian dishes, this cut of meat comes from the tail of the cow. Why is it called oxtail then? 

Well, it used to come from the tail of an oxen and dates back to when an entire animal was used and no part was wasted . The tail is skinned and cut into sections, each section containing a tailbone, some marrow in the center and a bony portion of meat. 

The tail is a gelatin-rich meat because of the large amount of collagen. 

How To Cook It

Oxtail is perfect for soups, stocks and braises due to its bony and fatty structure. Try this Southern Oxtail Soup recipe if you’re looking for delicious and hearty comfort food. The oxtails are seasoned, browned and then slowly simmer for multiple hours among vegetables and spices. 

Serve over rice or potatoes and you have the perfect comfort meal.

2. Flat Iron

What It Is

Cut from the shoulder of the cow, the Flat Iron is tender, rectangular, well-marbled and great for marinating and grilling. 

Also known as a top blade steak, top blade filet or shoulder top blade steak. The name “flat iron” supposedly came from the old-time metal iron due to the steak’s shape and thickness.

How To Cook It

Due to the marbling, this cut of steak has a rich flavor and is often described as very “beefy”. When cooked with marinade or other ingredients it takes on the other flavors and is best if not cooked past medium doneness. Try this cut in your next fajita or gyro recipe! 

3. Vacio 

What It Is

Known as Vacio in Argentina or Bavette in France, this cut of meat is perfect for a large group with extreme tenderness and flavor. It hangs beneath the loin and is protected by layers of fat in the cow’s belly. The Vacio usually weighs between 4-5 pounds and can be cut into individual steaks or used as a whole. 

This cut is often compared to the flank or skirt steak but is much more tender due to where it is located within the animal. 

How To Cook It

This cut is great for any cooking skill level as it can be cooked in a pan, crockpot, smoker, oven or on a grill. 

For the best flavor, start with searing both sides of the steak and then cook very slowly until internal temperature reaches 128-132 degrees fahrenheit. 

4. Denver 

What It Is

Don’t pay the price for a New York Strip steak – swap it out for the Denver. In 2000, the Cattleman’s Beef Board created the Beef Checkoff Program to stimulate beef sales by creating new more price conscious cuts of steak. This is where the Denver cut was born. 

This 20-year-old steak comes from the serratis ventralis,  or in layman’s terms, it sits under the shoulder blade. This is the fourth-most-tender cut of beef. 

How To Cook It

As Denver steak is relatively new to the kitchen scene, you may have trouble finding many recipes utilizing this cut of meat. 

If you follow some general rules to grilling a steak, you should be able to prepare a delicious grilled steak that is flavorful and juicy.

5. Tri-Tip

What It Is

Also known as the triangle steak, the tri-tip is cut from the tri-tip roast which is part of the bottom sirloin. It has excellent marbling and flavor, and is boneless.  

You may also  hear this steak called the “Santa Maria Tri-Tip” because it first became famous at a BBQ festival in Santa Maria, California. 

How To Cook It

The best way to cook this cut of steak is quickly – such as grilling, broiling or pan searing. For best flavor marinate for a few hours or use a dry rub prior to cooking. The most important thing to remember when preparing a tri-tip is that it has two different grain directions and slicing it can be difficult. 

To avoid a tough and chewy steak be sure to slice perpendicular to the grain. 

Feeding your guests or family a steak dinner doesn’t have to break the bank. You just have to do a little little research on which cut fits your meal and how to cook it properly.  

Steak Doesn’t Have to Break the Bank 

I hope you have been able to see a few other options you have when buying steak. No need to sacrifice quality and taste for price. 

Find a local butcher near you and see what else you can find! 

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