Succulent Sirloin: How to Purchase the Perfect Steak

The perfect home-cooked steak dinner starts with one very important ingredient – a perfect, carefully chosen steak. It’s important to learn which cuts of beef make for the most satisfying home-cooked steaks, to begin. Then, you could learn what to look for when you shop for it.

If you want the most satisfying cut of beef for your dinner, look for a sirloin cut. The term sirloin means different things in different parts of the world. In the US, it is a term that is used for the top portion of the meat cut from the rear flank of the animal. In Britain, the same part of the animal is called the rump. The term sirloin, in British butchery, is reserved for the top-mid flank of the animal.

This is a cut of beef that is celebrated for its tenderness and succulence. When cooked properly, this well-marbled meat acquires a wonderful melt-in-the-mouth juiciness.

When you go shopping for a great sirloin, there are a few things that you need to know.

  1. Both the sirloin and rump cuts are prized for different reasons. The sirloin cut is tender and juicy. The rump cut, while it tends to be cheaper, has better flavor. This cut can be somewhat chewy, though – especially if the beef hasn’t been matured properly. 
  2. Steak needs aging to become tender and to develop its full flavor. In general, good steak needs aging on a hook for at least three weeks. The steak at some butchers is aged up to 35 days. Good beef should be aged no more than this. When you buy, it’s an important question to ask how long your beef has been hung. 
  3. Look for meat that is a healthy and beautiful deep, dry-looking red. A healthy amount of marbling – little veins of fat running right through the meat – is important, too. This fat melts during the cooking process and bastes the meat right from the inside. It produces the inimitable flavor of well-cooked steak. 
  4. Good sirloin cuts are covered in a thick layer of white fat. This is a sign of good meat. 
  5. Learn to tell a good steak by holding it and looking at its texture. It’s supposed to be firm and finely textured. 
  6. In general, butchers have the best sirloin cuts – not the prepackaged section at the supermarket. If you do decide to buy prepackaged steak, look closely to see if the meat is wet. Wet steaks aren’t usually considered high quality.

Once you have a great sirloin steak to bring home

You can choose to cook a steak in one of several ways. You could use a grill, an oven or a griddle. Using a griddle can be one of the easiest ways to cook a perfect steak.

Start with heating your griddle until it is hot enough to smoke a bit. Take up your sirloin steak and brush a little olive oil on both sides. A little seasoning with salt and black pepper is a good idea at this point.

It’s important to give your steak the entire griddle. Adding more than one steak brings along the risk that your flame won’t be able to heat the pan to the correct temperature. Your steak will take too long to cook and it will stew in its juices instead of frying its fat.

How long you cook your meat depends on what your personal tastes are. If you have a steak that is 2 cm thick, about 3 minutes on the griddle on each side results in a medium well-done steak. Blue steak is only supposed to cook one minute on each side.

Once you take your steak off the griddle, make sure to let it stand for at least five minutes. This allows the steak to absorb all its surface wetness. Then, it’s time to serve.

Nathan Longmore is a former restaurant owner. Now retired, he enjoys cooking for his family. Find lots of great ways to use potato wedges from McCain, here.