Heavens! What is a beef lover to do when the price of beef at the grocery store rises an intimidating amount from a year ago? Eat less?–no thanks. I’m a 20-40 mile a week runner and my body craves protein and iron. Get resourceful?–YES! I can be thrifty when I put my mind to it. YouTube is a great resource for just about anything ‘How To,” including how to cut steaks from a whole beef subprimal. A few months ago, I tackled my first beef strip loin in my itty bitty kitchen.
I had a few reasons to tackle this project. The primary reason was actually convenience. (Tricked you, you thought it was going to be cost!) Really though, I wanted a super convenient way to eat small steaks on a routine basis. I don’t want a big ole’ steak for dinner, I want a ‘perfect portion’ that I can include with my meal. Some grocery stores offer the convenience of these smaller portions of steak but generally, you are going to pay for the extra labor of them bringing you the luxury of that convenience. I’m not talking the small beef tenderloin filets in the meat case (they’re the gem of the beef animal but they’re really costly) and I’m also not talking about those little eye of round steaks you see (opposite of a gem, they’re super tough and lean…no offense beef round lovers!) I was after a tender whole muscle that wasn’t going to break the bank. (So yes, reason # 2 is cost) Hello Beef Top/Strip Loin!
For starters– find a source for your beef top (or strip) loin. This is going to be a 18-20 pound beef ‘subprimal’ meaning it is subsection of the beef loin. NY Strip Steaks are a common cut from this particular subprimal. You can read on the label that I bought a ‘semi-boneless’ strip loin. (I couldn’t get it from Giant Eagle boneless) The overall price per pound is less expensive but it did yield more waste in the form of bone and fat. No matter–we have a DOG and she loves bones!
When you bring this hunk of beef home, make sure you have a solid hour of uninterrupted time. Knock it out as quickly as you can since you’re cutting fresh meat and you don’t want it to be out of refrigeration very long.
Clean a large surface (I used my kitchen table with a large cutting board on top) and have some paper towels on hand. When you remove the beef from the vacuum-sealed bag, there will be some liquids to whip off of the beef.
Also be sure to have two large bowls, the first for the waste fat and bone and the second for your trim (good muscle that is trimmed from the subprimal that will end up as stir-fry meat unless you have a grinder.) Lastly, make sure you have a good knife!
This was the end of my beef strip loin. You can see rib bones on the top. My first mission was to peel those rib bones away from the loin muscle. This was a slow process but if you’re patient, you can do it. (Again–buy a boneless loin if you can!)
The beef ribs I pulled off made our very sweet dog very giddy. She proudly trotted her new prize into the center of the yard and nursed it for the rest of the afternoon…keeping a keen eye on anything or anyone possibly interested in stealing her prize.
Ok–bone is off! You’ll find a decent fat covering all of the outside of the beef loin. Depending on the grade of beef you’re cutting there could be more or less fat. Again, patiently start working the fat off of the beef loin. There will also be some ‘silver skin’ or tough connective tissue surrounding the muscle, cut that off as well.
When all my trimming was done, I ended up with 3.12 pounds of fat and 4.0 pounds of bone from the 18.32 pound beef loin. (Yes- I’m a geek with a kitchen scale!) I also ended up with a little over 1 pound of trim that was saved for stir-fry.
With your beef loin all trimmed up (photo to the right) you’ll be able to start cutting steaks. I sliced the entire loin vertically down the middle so I had to fairly even sides. From those two sides, little 3-5 ounce steaks were sliced. Mine were all about 1 inch thick. I was able to get 36 little 3-5 ounce steaks from this loin. (photo below) To me, those are perfect little portions, fit for any weeknight or weekend dinner!
Let’s go back to that total price–hello sticker shock! $146.38 was the total for the beef strip loin, $7.99 per pound. If you spread that cost out over your 36 steaks, it comes to $4.00 per steak (plus the value of your 1 pound of trim!) My dog was a happy camper eating the bone and the only ‘waste’ was the fat. Anyone with creative ideas to use beef fat in a home kitchen–shout them out!
I bagged my steaks in quart freezer bags, two in each bag since the Brown’s are a happy family of two.
So- $4.00 for an individually portioned, super convenient steak. What does that really mean? Well, to me, that means a really cheap steak dinner! It means endless meal possibilities that will deliver at least 25 grams of protein in about 150 calories along with over 10% of my daily needs of 10 vitamins and minerals. It means fuel to repair my muscles after a long run. It means feeling satisfied after a healthy dinner! Perfect steaks for quick weekday meal- priceless really!