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Sirloin SteakMake ours rare: sirloin steak with a side of hash browns. Photo courtesy of NimanRanch.com.
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June 2005
Last updated March 2010

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Beef

Beef Glossary & Beef Cut Diagram


Page 7:  S

 

When looking up cuts of meat, it’s helpful to refer to the beef cut diagram, courtesy of the National Cattleman’s Beef Association. If you enjoy this Beef Glossary, we have a food glossary for almost every category of food.

Beef Cuts
Click on a letter to get to the appropriate glossary page.

a  b  c  d  e  f  g  h  i  j  k  l  m  n  o  p  q  r  s  t  u  v  w  x  y  z

This glossary is protected by copyright and cannot be reproduced in whole or part.

 

SALISBURY STEAK

A salisbury steak is made of ground beef that has been shaped to resemble a steak. It is typically served with gravy and grilled onions. Salisbury steak was invented by an American physician, Dr. J. H. Salisbury (1823-1905), in the 1890s. Dr. Salisbury, a hearty beef eater, championed the shredding of all foods to improve digestibility.

SEAM (or INTRAMUSCULAR) FAT

The fat between the muscles.

SEAR

Browning the surface of meat by short application of intense heat.

SHELL STEAK

Another term for strip steak.

SHORT LOIN

See tenderloin.

SHORT RIBS

The cut-off ends of the prime rib. Because they are very tough, short ribs should be cooked in liquid until they are tender. The Jewish dish, flanken, is made by boiling or stewing short ribs. They are traditionally served with horseradish.

 
Photo courtesy CleanFoodConnection.com.

SIDE OF BEEF

After the steer is slaughtered, the carcass is split lengthwise down the backbone into two “sides” and hung by the hind legs. Beef is shipped in this form to the retailer (or middleman), who divides the sides into the various cuts of beef. The style and name for cuts varies by country as well as by region. See Boston cut and New York cut.

 

SILAGE

Pastured cattle graze on grass, clover and other field greens. In cold weather months, organic-raised and other premium animals are fed silage, a mixture of cut and fermented legumes, to supplement the lack of pasture grass. Other cattle are fed lesser mixtures of feed year-round. Mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or B.S.E.) has been traced to an infectious protein in cow feed that contained meat and bone meal from infected cattle. Now, the U.S. and Canada ban the use of cattle tissues in feed intended for cattle.

SIRLOIN STEAK or TOP SIRLOIN or TOP BUTT

Sirloin steak is a multi-muscled steak cut from the sirloin section. Sirloin cuts are naturally lean and full of bold, beefy flavor. They tend to be chewier, and the most popular preparation is a quick grilling (many people marinate them first for tenderizing). The top of the sirloin contains several different cuts, all of which are called, confusingly, “sirloin steak.”

  Sirloin
Top Sirloin. Photo courtesy GlacierBeef.com.

These cuts are a little less tender than those from the loin and rib, but they are very flavorful and popular. Cuts from the bottom sirloin, ball tip and flap steaks are less well-known, but at least they have non-confusing names! The cuts from the top of the sirloin include sirloin, boneless top sirloin (or top butt), top sirloin cap steak (or culotte steak); and from the bottom sirloin, the sirloin tri tip. Sirloin steaks can vary considerably: the best cuts come from the top portion of the sirloin and have a mid-sized pin bone (the long, flat part of the hip bone). These are known as top sirloin steak (and also top butt steak, hip sirloin, and center cut sirloin). In general, other sirloin configurations with a flat bone are less tender than the top sirloin, but more tender than cuts with a round bone (always choose sirloin steaks with a flat bone). Boneless top sirloin, also known as butt steak, is more chewy than the other sirloin steaks, but has perhaps the best flavor of the loin steaks. The top sirloin cap steak is a smaller steak, popular for grilling or pan frying. The sirloin tri tip, also known as sirloin triangle tip, triangle steak and triangle roast, comes from the bottom sirloin (also called the sirloin butt or bottom butt). It has less marbling than a top sirloin, but has a good flavor.

SAMPLING SPECIALTY BEEF
SEE WHAT WE FOUND WHEN WE TASTED
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SKIRT STEAK

A boneless cut of beef from the lower part of the brisket. Cut from the beef flank, the skirt steak is the diaphragm muscle, which lies between the abdomen and chest cavity. It is a long, flat cut that is very flavorful, but tougher than most other cuts. Skirt steak has risen in popularity over the last 20 years.

  Skirt Steak
Skirt steak. Photo courtesy GlacierBeef.com.

Previously, it was the cut that the butcher kept for himself. On cattle drives, the trail bosses had first priority on the skirts. It is the cut of choice for making fajitas (which means “little belts” or “sash” in Spanish), grilled strips of meat rolled into a tortilla. Skirts can also be used for London broil. Skirt steaks are usually marinated and grilled over high heat. As with tougher cuts, skirt steak should be sliced across the grain.

SMOTHERED STEAK

See Swiss steak.

SOURCE ID or SOURCE VERIFICATION

A method of tagging animals adopted by better producers, that allows the entire history of the cut of beef to be identified, from the birth of the animal, including its pedigree, to the time it is prepared, packaged and sold. This enables tracking in case of any concern, e.g. an animal-related disease or processing problem. Also called Complete Source Verification.

SPENCER STEAK

See rib-eye steak.

STANDING RIB ROAST

See prime rib.

STEAK TARTARE

Ground raw beef mixed with onions, capers Worcestershire sauce and a raw egg, generally served with toast points. The basis of the name is the legend that Tartars did not have time to cook their meat, and thus ate it raw on horseback. In Belgium, where the dish is popular and served with frites (what we call French fries), it is known as filet américain.

  Steak Tartare
Steak tartare. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

STEW MEAT

Cubes cut from tougher cuts that need long, slow cooking in order to be tender.

STRIP STEAK

See New York strip steak.

SUB-PRIMAL CUTS

Smaller cuts derived from primal cuts.

  Stew Meat
Stew meat. Photo courtesy Lobels.com.

SWEETHEART STEAK

Sweetheart steak is the perfect cut for Valentine’s Day. Your favorite cut can be butterflied into the heart shape shown at the right. A 20-ounce boneless strip steak or boneless rib steak is the beef of choice—butterflied into the shape of a heart. You can ask your butcher for your favorite type of beef: USDA Prime, Natural Prime or American Wagyu. Do you have to split the 20-ounce steak with your sweetheart, or do you each get your own? For the sake of love and happiness, order two!

  Sweetheart Steak
Sweetheart steak. Photo courtesy Lobels.com.

SWISS STEAK

Not a cut but a method of preparation, beginning with rolling or pounding, and then braising. The name does not refer to Switzerland, but to the process of “swissing” fabric through rollers in order to soften it. Swiss steak is typically made from relatively tough cuts of meat, such as the round, which have been pounded with a tenderizing hammer, or run through a set of bladed rollers to produce cube steak (minute steak). The meat is then typically coated with flour and other seasonings and served with a thick gravy that can include onions, carrots and tomatoes. The dish is called smothered steak in England.

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Go To Glossary Alphabet Index, Above

 

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