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|Type||Short loin and tenderloin cut of beef|
The T-bone and porterhouse are steaks of beef cut from the short loin (called the sirloin in Commonwealth countries). Both steaks include a "T-shaped" bone with meat on each side. Porterhouse steaks are cut from the rear end of the short loin and thus include more tenderloin steak, along with (on the other side of the bone) a large strip steak. T-bone steaks are cut closer to the front, and contain a smaller section of tenderloin.
There is little agreement among experts on how large the tenderloin must be to differentiate a T-bone steak from porterhouse. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Institutional Meat Purchase Specifications state that the tenderloin of a porterhouse must be at least 1.25 inches (32 mm) thick at its widest, while that of a T-bone must be at least 0.5 inches (13 mm). However, steaks with a large tenderloin are often called a "T-bone" in restaurants and steakhouses despite technically being porterhouse.
Owing to their large size and the fact that they contain meat from two of the most prized cuts of beef (the short loin and the tenderloin), T-bone steaks are generally considered one of the highest quality steaks, and prices at steakhouses are accordingly high. Porterhouse steaks are even more highly valued owing to their larger tenderloin.
In the United States, the T-bone has the meat-cutting classification IMPS 1174; the porterhouse is IMPS 1173.
The origin of the term "porterhouse" is contentious, with several cities and establishments claiming to have coined it. The Oxford English Dictionary traces the etymology from proprietor Martin Morrison serving large T-bones in his Pearl Street (Manhattan) "Porter House" around 1814, while noting the lack of contemporary evidence to support the tale. This origin story gained traction in the late 19th century, but others contend a Cambridge, Massachusetts hotel and restaurant proprietor named Zachariah B. Porter lent his name to the cut of beef, and others claim the steak takes its name from various 19th Century U.S. hotels or restaurants called Porter House, such as the Porter House Hotel in Flowery Branch, Georgia.
Anatomy of the T-bone
To cut a T-bone from butchered cattle, a lumbar vertebra is sawn in half through the vertebral column. The downward prong of the 'T' is a transverse process of the vertebra, and the flesh surrounding it is the spinal muscles. The small semicircle at the top of the 'T' is half of the vertebral foramen.
T-bone and porterhouse steaks are suited to fast, dry heat cooking methods, such as grilling or broiling. Since they contain a small amount of collagen relative to other cuts, longer cooking times are not necessary to tenderize the meat. The bone also conducts heat within the meat so that it cooks more evenly and prevents meat drying out and shrinking during cooking. The meat near the bone will cook more slowly than the rest of the steak, and the tenderloin will tend to reach the desired temperature before the strip.
Bistecca alla Fiorentina
Bistecca alla fiorentina, or 'beefsteak Florentine style', consists of a T-bone traditionally sourced from either the Chianina or Maremmana breeds of cattle. A favorite of Tuscan cuisine, the steak is grilled over a wood or charcoal fire, seasoned with salt, sometimes with black pepper, and olive oil, applied immediately after the meat is retired from the heat. Thickly cut and very large, "Bistecca" are often shared between two or more persons, and traditionally served very rare, sometimes garnished with lemon wedges, if not accompanied by red wine, and accompanied by Tuscan beans as a side dish. An early recipe dictates: 1/1,5 kg, 3 fingers thick, 3-5 minutes grilling per side (flipping it only once) and 5-7 minutes vertically standing on its bone so as to make the blood drain out.
Costoletta di Vitello alla Milanese
The same cut of meat, but from the calf, is used in the famous dish Cutlet of Veal in the Milan Style, for which carefully chosen 1.5 cm-thick cuts are battered in fresh breadcrumbs and gently fried (sautéed) in abundant clarified butter with salt. This is a favored dish in Italy. Also called Elephant Ear, owing to the shape it takes when prepared before cooking; in fact the veal bone is partially attached to the heart of battered meat that looks like an elephant ear.
- OED Online says "frequently supposed to derive its name from a well-known porterhouse in New York in the early 19th Century, although there is apparently no contemporary evidence to support this"
- e.g. Zachariah B. Porter of the defunct Porter House hotel in Porter Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts "When Cattle Was King". Retrieved 2007-06-25.; Martin Morrison of a New York City porter-house proprietor, "The Big Apple: Porterhouse Steak". Retrieved 2007-06-25.; the Porter House Hotel of Flowery Branch, Georgia "University of Georgia Better Hometown Program "Flowery Branch"" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-04-13.; "North Georgia Mountain Travel Association Trivia". Retrieved 2008-04-13.
- Delia Smith:Lamb Archived November 23, 2010 at the Wayback Machine
- LBC:Cooking in the credit crunch
- Waverly Root, The Food of Italy, 1971, ISBN 0-394-72429-1.
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