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What Is a T-Bone Steak?

Porterhouse steak is similar to a T-bone steak.
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  • Written By: S. Williams
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 24 September 2014
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A T-bone steak is a thin slice of meat cut from the sirloin, the lower portion of a beef cow's back. T-bone steaks receive their name from the T-shaped bone that runs through the center of the meat. A tiny section of tenderloin steak is located on one side of the bone, and the other side contains a New York strip. Butchers frequently create two steaks out of these particular cuts of beef because of the high price that tenderloin steak usually will bring.

Many people often use the terms "T-bone steak" and "porterhouse steak" interchangeably. A porterhouse steak is very similar to a T-bone steak, but there is one major difference. The tenderloin side of the porterhouse must be at least 2 inches (about 5 cm) in diameter, but the tenderloin side of a T-bone steak has no such restriction and often is very small.

When choosing a T-bone steak, one should look for bright red meat and a white bone. Some marbling is desired, one that is overly fatty in appearance should be avoided. If the meat counter does not have a steak of the desired thickness, many stores have an on-site butcher who will cut T-bone steaks to a customer's exact specifications. Many steak lovers consider black Angus T-bones to be the best type to buy because of their tenderness.

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Opinions vary when it comes to tenderizing and seasoning a T-bone steak prior to preparation. Using a commercially prepared meat tenderizer is acceptable but not always necessary with a quality cut of meat. Some people prefer to season their T-bones with salt, pepper and garlic, and others enjoy using a marinade. A third group insists that a good T-bone's flavor doesn't need any improvement. In other words, there is no wrong way to season this meat.

Grilling is the traditional method used to prepare a T-bone steak. For a steak that is about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick, it should be placed on a hot grill for about 10 minutes on each side. For a steak that is well done or rare, this grilling time can be increased or decreased. The tenderloin side will cook faster than the New York strip side and should be placed closer to the outer edge of the flame. The meat will be redder and less done close to the bone.

An instant-read thermometer is a wise investment for frequent grilling. It will take the guesswork out of knowing how well-done a steak is at any given moment. To measure the internal temperature, the instant-read thermometer should be inserted into the thickest section of the meat without hitting the bone. A rare steak should measure 120 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit (48 to 54 degrees Celsius), and a medium steak should be 140 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit (60 to 65 degrees Celsius). For a well-done steak, the thermometer should register at least 170 degrees Fahrenheit (76 degrees Celsius).

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