In this video, we’ll show you how to save big money buying a whole beef strip loin and breaking it down into strip steaks, roasts, and thick loin filets!
Today, I’m sharing another bite-sized kitchen hack. When we think of great steaks, steak — house-quality steaks — we usually associate that with high costs.
While that generally may be true, it really doesn’t have to be! There are a lot of reasons why beef costs more than other proteins, but they all have one thing in common: The product you’re buying in the store required quite a bit of labor to get it there. One way to reduce the costs is to take on some of that labor yourself.
This is a New York Beef Top Loin
We bought a New York beef top loin from Costco. This behemoth weighs about 15 pounds and it’s graded as choice. Notice the price. It cost about $5 and 80 cents per pound. I have a trimmed and cut a New York strip steak from the store, and there’s quite a price difference — closer to $10 a pound. So how do you go from this big piece to this steak? That’s what I’ll show you today.
Don’t be intimidated. It’s really not that hard. I’m not a professional butcher, and you don’t need to be either. Just like anything else, you will get better with practice. There’s a lot of information about this beef loin on the internet, but I just want to mention a few key points.
Getting a boneless beef tenderloin is best
First, this is boneless. Unless you own a bandsaw or you really want to add labor, I do suggest you buy it boneless. Next, the fat cap runs end to end. This can and should be trimmed based on thickness and preference. I do like to keep some of it on for flavor and appearance, but three major can be used to grind for burgers or use this as tallow. Don’t throw it away. There is a tough, sinewy portion that runs across the top, which is known as the chain.
You can usually follow it along with your fingers. You can go ahead and remove that prior to cooking, or if you’re not really comfortable with that yet, just go ahead and leave it on. It’s a bit more tedious, but you can always take it off after you cut this into steaks.
Look before you cut the bag open
There are two ends. One is just all one clean muscle. The other portion connects to the cow where it eats the sirloin, and it’s going to have a couple of different muscle groups. Usually, there’s a thick, fatty vein that runs through the middle. To get it out of the bag, don’t cut it down at the end.
There’s a lot of purge and a lot of additional juice. We don’t want to run out and make a mess. I just use my boning knife and cut it right down the middle. Get it opened up and don’t tear it all the way to the end. It takes a little bit of work, but we can go ahead and get it out of there. It’s a big boy.
There are all the juices neatly trapped inside — no mess on me or the countertop. We’ll get rid of this next week. Just get some paper towels and dry this off. It’s just going to make it a lot easier to work.
Hopefully you can see the difference between the two ends. This is the portion that has the different muscles that kind of come together, and you can really even see it. This is where they get the veins from. We have a couple of different connective pieces together. You can feel it, and it’s a great cut to use as a roast.
On the other side, it looks much more like a true, typical New York strip steak. This is all one thick muscle with a lot of inner muscular fat. That’s good fat. That’s stuff we can eat. So now we’re going to go ahead and get this trimmed up. I like to start on the bottom. As you can see, we have a lot of fat down. It doesn’t have to be perfect. As I mentioned earlier, it’s dealer’s choice. Sometimes you’ll see some indents from where the bones meet the loin. So, I’m just going to go ahead and begin to trim this up right now.
Remove the hard fat
We want to try to only remove the fat, leaving as much good meat on there as possible. It’s just going to take some time.
Then we get to the chain on this beef strip loin. Again, it’s connected. There’s a lot of fat. But once you find it, just go ahead and get that cut off. This is still good meat that can be used for grinding hamburgers. I want to show you both ways, so I’m actually going to move about half of the chain. That way, if you’re not comfortable doing it at home, we can show you how to do it after you slice the steak. So again, it does run all the way down, but I’m just going to go ahead and cut it so we can take a look at this a couple of different ways.
Soft fat gives your steak flavor
Now what you can do is just take this fad cap — none of it is edible — and really just shave this down. You don’t have to, but you can just cut it into steaks from here. I like to remove some of this. As you can see, it’s really thick, so I’m just going to go ahead and just slice away until I get it to a thickness.
Now I got this somewhat trimmed up. Again, it does not have to be perfect. I am not selling this at a store; I am using this for personal consumption. I’ve removed about half of the chain out in the hallway. I just left this part intact so I can show you at home what that looks like if you want to try to remove it after the fact. I’ve been working hard so I’m going to have a little bit of beer.
Always have this kitchen tool by your side
Remember, this is a very important part of cooking or grilling. Make sure it’s always by your side. Next, we’re going to try to cut some of this into steaks in a row. The first thing I’m going to do is start with the side that has the vein stake and the multiple muscles right over here. And I think that that makes for a great roast.
Use a long sharp knife to break down this slab of beef
I wish I had a longer butcher’s knife to cut this beef strip loin. This is about 8 inches. If you had one that was 10 to 13 inches, you can really cover the surface. I’m going to do the best that I can, and I’m just going to bring it to about right over here. We’re just going to cut it to a nice roast.
So, here’s what we’re left with. Again, this looks like a typical steak you buy in this store: one muscle. Now it’s really all about how to cut it. There are a couple of tricks I like to use. Try to get this side nice and flat just so we get some really nice clean cuts. I’m going to cut a thin steak over here. This is going to go great with steak and eggs. Then go ahead and get that squared up, so to speak.
As you can see here, we have a nice, thin breakfast steak. We have some fat that we can trim up. Matter of fact, you can throw this with the fat and we’ll use that for burgers. So no big deal. That will be good eating. For the rest, here’s a little trick I like to use: put your two fingers near the steak. That’s an inch and a quarter steak, so I can measure to that. Or if I want to go 2 inches for me, that’s just three fingers again. So it’s just a quick little hack that you can use at home to get good size beef strip loin steaks.
That results in even serving sizes. I’m just going to go ahead and cut this right down the middle, cut it into a nice, filet-size portion.
Does the store-bought one look twice as expensive?
Notice the differences between the hand-cut steak right and the store-bought one. Does the store-bought one look twice as expensive? They don’t. To me, there are some minor differences, like the size of the fat cap on the exterior. But you can save a ton of money doing this yourself. There’s also a lot of ways to store these things in the fridge or the freezer.
Save money with a vacuum sealer
Since I’m saving so much money, I buy in bulk. I just bought a vacuum sealer, and that way, I can properly store and secure these beef strip loin steaks right in the freezer.
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