How to: Select the perfect steak

Tenderloin, sirloin, rump, ribeye… which one’s right for you?

Any time you select a steak from Spinneys, you’re putting yourself in a great spot to eat a great meal. But before you pick one up, it’s worth spending some time thinking about what you’re looking for. After all, steaks aren’t all the same. Each cut has something different to offer – its own features and qualities. Here, we run through this thought process with four prime cuts of steak in mind:

Tenderloin

Aka the fillet. Aka the one that cuts like butter. The tenderloin is located in the middle of the cow, where it’s largely left to do its own thing. Which is nothing. This inactive cut develops very little fat and is extremely lean. As a result, and because of its relatively shy flavour, tenderloin is ideally suited to recipes that call for fast, fierce cooking and bold, brash ingredients: think vibrant stir-fries and spicy salads.

Sirloin

A little further up the marbled staircase. Sirloin has a good network of fat running through the meat, and on the top side a coating of creamy fat that helps self-baste the meat as the steak sears (this is easy to discard post-pan, if you wish). Sirloin is probably the most user-friendly cut, nicely pitched as well-flavoured and melt-in-the-mouth. As such it has a wide and varied recipe reach: seared quickly and served simply, paired with a punchy marinade or bolstered by the smoky flavour of a screaming hot grill.

Rump

Now we’re edging closer to steak with full-throttle flavour. The rump comes from near the back of the cow and is required to pitch in and do some work. It isn’t as spoon-soft as tenderloin, but its deep, beefy flavour makes up for this. Rump requires careful cooking – too long and the muscle fibres tighten up, not long enough and the flesh can be chewy – so it’s best to aim for medium-rare meat. Its firm texture means it stands up well to high heat, and is a solid bet if you’re cooking on the barbecue.

Ribeye

Last, but certainly not least. A ribeye steak consists of two distinct sections, joined together by a beautifully creamy, thick line of fat. The central eye of meat has a desirable web of marbling, while on the other side of the line there is the cap, deemed by many to be the little jewel in the steak crown. Ribeye comes in thicker, larger steaks (one will often serve two, especially if it’s bone-in) which means they require more cooking, not least because the line of fat needs time to melt and render. Best cooked to at least medium, ribeye is a great dinner party option – sear it in a really hot pan then finish in the oven for a less hands-on but just as lovely result.

Now you’ve got the perfect steak for you, it’s time to read our in-depth guide on how to cook your chosen cut like a pro.