The Long And Short Loin Of It
The short loin is a lot like the New York Yankees. Just like the Yankees always make it to the playoffs, the cuts from the short loin always make it on steakhouse menus, and like the Yankees, the short loin may have the most expensive lineup.
The short loin is located behind the ribs, and includes several of the most popular steak cuts. The primal cut includes the very last rib (13) as well as the spine of the beast. Although the short loin is one of the smaller primal cuts, you wouldn’t guess by its weight as it’s packed with dense, flavorful muscles. Located just passed the rib, toward the rear of the animal, the muscles that make up the short loin don’t work as hard as other muscle groups, thus giving us more tender meat as well.
Steaks given to us by the short loin, and some may say a higher power, are: the Delmonico, Porter house, T-bone, NY Strip, Tenderloin, Filet Mignon and the Chateaubriand.
The T-bone and the Porter House steaks are very similar, and in some cases the terms are used interchangeably. They both consist of the “T” shaped backbone separating a tenderloin (Filet) and a strip (NY Strip). The Porter House is located further back on the short loin and has a larger Filet than the T-bone, but a lower quality Strip due to a large vein that runs through the cut. For this reason, I prefer the T-bone to the Porter House, but I also prefer Strip steaks to Filet Mignon.
My single favorite cut from the short loin is the Strip Steak, or NY Strip. It gets its name from the idea that the filet portion has been “stripped” away. It is located at the front of the short loin, and can be served with or without the bone. I prefer the bone-in Strip because it adds flavor and helps to keep it rare. Of all the cuts in the short loin, the Strip Steak gives the best balance between great marbling (flavor) and tenderness.
The tenderloin is an extremely tender muscle; it runs from the short loin into the sirloin section of the animal. The front portion that is in the short loin is incorporated in the T-bone and Porter House, or cut as individual Filet Mignons.
The Filet Mignon is a very popular cut due to how tender it is, but due to the lack of fat it doesn’t have much flavor. Because of the tenderness and absence of fat, it is served rare to medium rare, and often with a sauce or at least an herb crust or butter.
It is also common to see the front portion of the tenderloin kept whole and prepared as a roast. This is called a Chateaubriand. A Chateaubriand is typically meant to feed 2-3 people and is roasted whole to medium rare, sliced and typically served with a sauce.
I hope this sheds light on where some of your favorite steaks come from, and why they are so darn tasty.