By: Dan Gentile
Although most every beef cut has its time and place, some have wrongly developed lauded reputations and prime placement on restaurant menus, while others have been overlooked and under-eaten. Frankly, not all beef is created equal.
To take the pulse on the state of beef, we asked chefs from around the country to tell us which cuts they think are most overrated and underrated. Spoiler alert: tenderloin takes a serious pounding.
Credit: Flickr/Jason James (edited)
Michael Fiorelli, chef at Love & Salt
Manhattan Beach, CA
Overrated: Beef tenderloin
"The most overrated cut of meat is the beef tenderloin. It's flavorless and has no texture, yet for some reason people are willing to pay absurd amounts of money for it. I would never serve it in my restaurant."
"The most underrated cut of beef is the neck. You never see anyone use it, most likely because they don't know what to do with it, but if you slow braise the meat on the bone you can achieve a depth of flavor not easily paralleled by any other part of the animal."
Anya Fernald, author of Home Cooked and co-founder of Belcampo Meat Co.
Los Angeles, CA
"My least-favorite cut is the tenderloin. It's relatively bland and can be mushy. I like my meat with a little more substance, mouthfeel, and texture."
Underrated: Flat iron
"My favorite underrated cut is the flat iron. It's so easy and fast to cook, with great texture and flavor. I also love a hanger or a bavette steak for the same reason. A few minutes on each side in a scorching-hot cast-iron and dinner's ready!"
Credit: Flickr/Eugene Kim
David Guas, chef/owner at Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery
Washington, DC and Virginia
Overrated: Hanger steak
"It's been hangin' around every bistro for far too long."
"Tri-tip, that larger, tender, triangular part from the bottom of a steer, isn't well known to most people. It is probably the least-expensive, best taste of beef you can purchase. There's not a lot of connective tissue, so it cooks very quickly and easily. It has been my go-to meat for grilling, it has a way of soaking in the wonderful flavors and allowed a slight caramelization on the outside."
Scott Kaplan, executive chef at CANTINE Italian Café & Bar
"I don't understand people's obsession with it. It has no fat and pretty much no flavor, and why is it so damn expensive?"
"Trust me, this cut is where it's at. Marinate it overnight in olive oil with garlic and fresh herbs and then grill it hot and quick. You will never think about filet again."
Credit: Flickr/Trip Hosley (edited)
Ken Irvine, owner/executive chef at Bleu Bohème
San Diego, CA
Overrated: Grass-fed beef
"Any type of grass-fed beef is overrated -- it's just too lean. Cows fed a strictly grass diet aren't going to have very much fat, and that's where the flavor comes from. If they're eating grass and corn it is still natural, but without the corn, they don't build enough fat. And if it doesn't have fat, it doesn't have flavor!"
Underrated: Hanger steak
"One of the most underrated cuts of beef is hanger steak. There's a reason why it is also called the "butcher's cut," and that's because butchers would keep this for themselves rather than sell it. It has tremendous flavor, but it is a chewier cut. A tender steak is too often equated as a great steak, but the tender cuts don't have the same richness of flavor you can only get from fat. We serve it with our steak frites at Bleu Bohème, and find we just have to educate guests when they order it so they don't complain that it is too chewy."
William DeMarco, corporate executive chef at CRUSH and La Cave Wine & Food Hideaway
Las Vegas, NV
Overrated: Filet mignon
"I would say the most overrated cut of beef is the filet. While it is a tender cut, the marbling on a steak is really necessary in order to really get that rich taste and favor."
Underrated: Hanger steak
"You have the tenderness of the filet and the flavor of the NY. It's also known as the butcher steak because the butchers used to keep it for themselves rather than sell it."
John Lichtenberger, executive chef of Isla and Péché
"One of the most overrated beef cuts would have to be the tenderloin. Not enough fat for flavor and usually a safe bet for catering menus. The best thing about the beef tenderloin always tends to be the sauce, be it béarnaise or a red wine demi."
Underrated: Marrow bones
"One of the most underrated cuts of beef would have to be beef marrow bones. They are a classic, and the marrow is actually very good for you. Kings of England ate them every day and lived long lives! At Péché, we pair our marrow bones with pomme frites, a Vital Farms pasture-raised egg, and a drizzle of truffle oil -- sublime!"
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