The Primal Cuts of Beef: Loin
Chances are if the word “steak” conjures an image of luxurious meals centered around a tender, rich piece of beef, you have the loin to thank.
Of all the primal cuts of beef, loin is the one associated with white tablecloth restaurants and specialty meat shops. When you want to celebrate or have a memorable meal, this is the cut of beef you want to think about.
And from the porterhouse to the T-bone, it’s certainly worth thinking about.
The Cuts of Beef
With beef, the flavor profile depends on the cut. For most consumers, they know beef by the portion-sized cuts they buy. But each comes from what are known as the primal cuts of beef, each with its own level of flavor and tenderness.
Primal cuts in the United States are typically as follows: Chuck, rib, loin, round, flank, short plate, brisket and shank.
Sub-primal cuts are then smaller portions within the primals. For example, the lion can include the short loin, top loin and bottom loin.
From within those sub-primals come up the portion-sized cuts you buy. In the case of the loin and its sub-primals, examples would include the porterhouse or T-bone steak.
Where The Loin Is Located
The loin is located near the back of the cattle and is sometimes broken into different areas: the short loin, top loin, bottom loin, the sirloin and tenderloin.
The tenderloin is generally considered the most tender part of this premium cut. The sirloin is not as tender, but often offers more flavor. As we shall see, a host of famous streaks come from these different areas of the loin.
Dishes Using the Loin
The loin produces the best steaks that beef offers. The loin is probably the reason why, when someone says “let’s eat steak tonight,” your mouth waters.
That’s because the cut is far from the “hoof and horns,” meaning it provides the most tender meat. This cut has earned its reputation for providing some of the most flavorful, tender steaks available.
Some of the most well-known steaks that come this primal cut include:
- New York Strip
- Kansas City Strip
- Top Loin Steak
- Tenderloin Steak
- Sirloin Steak
- Filet Mignon
The most famous cuts are the porterhouse and T-bone. If you’re trying to decide between the two, it helps to know that the porterhouse contains more of the tenderloin than the T-bone contains (usually the prices in a restaurant will reflect that). Officially, a porterhouse becomes a T-bone if the portion contains a part of the tenderloin that is less than 1 ¼ inches in diameter - about the size of a 50-cent piece.
The tenderloin alone has many ways of being served. Tenderloin is most frequently used for filet mignon, chateaubriand (cut from the center portion of the loin, served with sauce) or a double roast created by cooking two tenderloins together.
Other Uses of Loin
You don’t have to eat a steak to enjoy the loin.
The thin end of a tenderloin can be used to create kabobs. You may also find tenderloin in upscale tacos. There are also dishes where beef loin is stuffed (such as with spinach) and baked. Others smoke beef tenderloin and serve it with a sauce.
Loin beef also can be mixed with ground beef from other cuts to create high-end burgers.
Like all cuts of beef, the loin is versatile. But really, steaks reign supreme with this cut. For those who love the flavor of beef, a steak from the loin primal cut is something you’ll want to experience.