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Not quite sure what cut of beef to buy or how to prepare it?

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By Norm Harding, Reporter

How many of you have gone to the grocery store or butcher shop and picked up a London broil to bring home to cook? Ever wonder what cut of beef is it? I doubt if you’ll find it on a beef chart that shows the various cuts of beef from a steer.

London broil is a cooking method, not a cut of beef. It can be either a top round roast or a top round steak. So, what is the cooking method that makes a London broil? First of all, you will need to marinate the beef for at least three or four days, since the top round is not the leanest of cuts. I prefer broiling or grilling it to medium rare and then slicing it thinly, across the grain, at a 45-degree angle.

If you’re not quite sure what cut of beef to buy or how to prepare it, keep in mind most cuts of beef come from either the front quarter or the hindquarter. The hindquarter is more expensive because of better cuts of meat, including T-bone, sirloin, sirloin tips and filet mignon. The rib steaks and roasts are cut from the front quarter.

This week, I’ll describe the cuts from the hindquarter. Next week, we’ll review the front quarter.

Short loin

Cuts from the short loin are typically tender and can be sautéed, pan-fried, broiled or grilled. They will not require moist heat or long cooking times.

Porterhouse Steak: Cut from the rear end of the short loin, the porterhouse is a popular cut of meat, consisting of a piece of tenderloin and a larger portion of sirloin tip. If you remove the tenderloin, it can be served individually as a filet mignon. Its name is derived from being served in alehouses years ago with a dark beer called porter.

T-Bone Steak: A T-bone steak is tender and tasty and is similar to the porterhouse steak, but the tenderloin is much smaller, or even non-existent. It’s taken from the middle section of the short loin and is usually grilled or pan-fried.

Club Steak: The club steak is a steak of many names. You’re probably familiar with a Delmonico, New York strip, Kansas City steak or just a strip steak. Cut from the rib end of the short loin, it has a bone along one side, although some cuts are boneless. There is no portion of the tenderloin included.

Tenderloin: This portion of the loin is considered the tenderest cut of beef; but to some, myself included, it doesn’t seem to have as much flavor as the other cuts previously mentioned. Because of this, it is usually served with a sauce either as the whole strip or cut into individual filet mignons.

Sirloin

The tender cuts of sirloin respond well to sautéing, pan-frying, broiling or grilling. Both the sirloin steak and sirloin tip roast should be marinated for maximum tenderness and flavor.

Sirloin Steak: These large steaks, also available as boneless cuts, will feed the entire family, and are probably one of the most economical cuts of beef.

Sirloin Tip: Once again, this cut of beef tastes best when well marinated. It does well using a dry roasting method.

Round

A round steak can be tender, but not always. For this reason, I would suggest cooking using a long, moist method. Most of us probably buy the “cubed” steak and slow cook it in liquid as a Swiss steak.

Top Round: This cut, the tenderest part of the round; is mostly prepared as a pot roast. I have even cut it up into individual steaks, browned them on both sides, and then cooked them slowly in liquid, such as beef stock and/or red wine.

Rump Roast: Similar to the top round, the rump roast, as the name implies, can be roasted at low temperatures, but can also be used for pot roast.

Flank

This is my personal favorite cut of meat. Also known as a skirt steak, it is lean and muscular and has great flavor when marinated over-night and cooked on the grill. It should be sliced against the grain at a 45-degree angle. The flank steak should be cooked to medium-rare. Anything more and the meat will be dry and tough.

Grilled Flank Steak

1 flank steak (or skirt steak), about 1 lb.

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup rice wine or dry white wine

1/4 cup sliced green onions

2 Tbsps. rice wine vinegar

2 tsps. minced fresh ginger

Place the steak in a resealable plastic bag. Combine the soy sauce, wine, scallions, vinegar and ginger in a small bowl and stir well. Pour marinade into bag with steak; mix well and seal bag. Refrigerate for two or three hours.

Drain the meat. Grill on direct/high heat until seared and nicely browned on one side, about 3 minutes. Turn and cook meat additional two minutes. Sometimes because of the uneven shape of the steak, it will be cooked from rare to medium well. Transfer to cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut across the grain on the bias into thin slices and serve. Makes three to four servings.

Sliced Porterhouse with Garlic Butter Sauce

2 porterhouse steaks (about 1-1/2 lb. each, cut 1-inch thick)

2 Tbsps. vegetable oil

1 Tbsp. ketchup

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. paprika (preferably Hungarian)

1/2 tsp. dry mustard

2 tsps. cider vinegar

2 Tbsps. minced garlic

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

8 Tbsps. (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 8 pieces

Lightly coat steaks with oil; set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes. Combine ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, mustard and vinegar in medium skillet and whisk to blend. Grill steaks on direct/high heat until seared and well-crusted, about 5 minutes. Turn, season with salt and pepper, and grill 3 more minutes for rare, 4 minutes for medium. Transfer to cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Warm ketchup mixture over very low heat; add butter 1 or 2 pieces at a time, whisking constantly. Once butter is incorporated, add garlic and season with salt. Carve steak into one-half inch slices and portion onto plates. Spoon sauce over each portion. Makes 4-6 servings.

Norm Harding is a cooking columnist for the Beacon. To send him recipes, e-mail him at nharding@brunswickbeacon.com.