11/04/2011 02:07 pm ET Updated Aug 31, 2012

How To Cut Strip Loin Steaks

Most of us buy steaks pre-portioned at the grocery store or butcher shop, but as chef Mark Elia of The Culinary Institute of America demonstrates, it's not hard to cut them yourself -- and it saves you significant cash. Chef Elia starts with a beef strip loin, which is a very common restaurant cut that you can buy in any supermarket. Cutting and trimming your own steaks from this cut will save you anywhere from $3 to $5 a pound. To begin, he marks his first steak by slicing lightly on the fat cap (you want to portion the steaks first, then trim the fat). He follows his mark with a large slicing knife, cutting down nice and straight. (The nice thing about cutting your own steaks is that you can make them as thick or thin as you like.) Once he's cut all of the steaks, he uses a boning knife to remove all but 1/4 to 1/8 inch of fat from the steaks, also removing the collagen band on the end portion of the steak. Now your steaks are ready for the grill.

For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.

Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Chef Mark Elia from the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm going to show you this kitchen basic: how to properly cut and portion boneless strip loin steaks.

The cut of meat we've chosen today is a beef strip loin. This is a very common restaurant cut, easily purchased at any grocery store or any butcher market. To cut these steaks yourself is a tremendous savings. You'll save anywhere from three to five dollars a pound by just learning how to buy this whole piece of meat and then cut it into individual steaks.

We're not going to worry about taking the fat cover off the top just yet. We're going to slice our steaks first, and then we'll trim the fat and gristle off at that point. We're going to use a standard ten- to twelve-inch slicing knife, and we'll start by measuring off the width. If you haven't done this before, you might just want to make a little bit of a mark on the top so you can follow a line, nice and straight. We don't want any wedges or door-stoppers! We want a nice, even slice of steak. Once you've made your initial slice to see where you want to go, just come down over the top of your steak nice and straight, just a few back-and-forth motions to lay the steak open. There's one, and we're going to slice a couple more - again, making sure to cut straight through. If you're doing this yourself you can do any size steak you want. You're not fixed on buying what the store's cut for you already; you can make them thick, or make them thin.

Now to properly trim the strip loin steak, we lay it flat and then we would switch knives and more than likely use a smaller knife, a six-inch boning knife or an eight-inch fillet knife. You want to look at the fat cover, and remove all but about a quarter to an eighth of an inch of the fat on the top. It's just a matter of pointing your knife straight down and sliding your knife right through to remove the fat. On the front of the strip loin, you have a heavy collagen band. This is not something you want to leave on the steak for cooking. You would just take your knife at about a forty-five degree angle, and just cut that piece right off. It's not something you want to put on your plate. If you like to have a little fat on the tail for grilling, you leave it on. Some people like to take it off; just put your knife in there and wedge it off. There we have our boneless strip loin steak, and we'll lay it out flat.

We'll trim another one: we're leaving about a quarter to an eighth of an inch of fat on top just by slicing right through that fat. This little piece of collagen band here must come off. You cannot leave it on there: it's very distasteful and very tough. We'll slice that off at a forty-five degree angle and take a little fat off the tail - and there you have a portion-cut, boneless strip loin steak.

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