T-bones command a premium price as popular special-occasion orders at upscale restaurants. But you can find this prime cut, sometimes called a porterhouse, at most grocery store butcher counters. When listed on a menu, a porterhouse, which gets cut from the larger rear portion of the short loin, can serve two.
What Is a T-Bone Steak?
Crosscut from the forward section of the short loin on a steer's middle back, a T-bone steak contains a strip of the top loin and a chunk of tenderloin, both desired cuts on their own. A T-shaped bone from the lumbar separates the two pieces. The tenderloin filet on the larger porterhouse cut -- essentially the same but for the size -- must be at least 1 1/4 inch at the widest point to qualify for the designation; the rules say a T-bone must have at least 1/2 inch.
The T-bone combines the meaty flavor of a strip steak, often called a New York strip when it's sold on its own, with the signature tenderness of the filet mignon. The premium price reflects its position on the animal, coming from the area along the spine with the least used muscles. T-bones come cut at least 1-inch thick, though it's not unusual to find 1 1/2- to 2-inch-thick steaks.
How Do You Cook a T-Bone Steak?
The T-bone is made for grilling. Generous bits of fat keep it moist while the tenderloin heart stays tender and flavorful. The intact bone provides a sturdy handle to grab the steak and flip it without puncturing the meat and losing flavorful juice or sparking a flare-up. Stereotypically, this good-looking steak stars on backyard grills in commercials and is often a favorite of the outdoor chef.
The steak needs little adornment and should be lightly oiled, judiciously seasoned and cooked hot and fast. It is important to note that the slowest cooking portion of this cut sits right in the bend of the bone near the base. This area will remain rarer than the rest of the steak. The fastest-cooking portion, the filet, should be positioned farthest from the fire or it can end up overdone by the time the strip cooks through.
It's possible to cook a T-bone in the kitchen, with the combination stovetop and oven method yielding the best results. Start with a quick sear in a smoking hot cast iron or another ovenproof skillet, then transfer the steak to a 400 F oven until it reaches the desired doneness, from 5 to 15 minutes depending on the thickness of the cut. Use an instant-read thermometer for the most accurate temperature, and gauge it in a section of meat located away from the bone.
The T-bone is largely an American cut. In the British Commonwealth countries, the strip side of the T-bone is known as the porterhouse while the tenderloin section is known as the fillet.
T-Bone Steak Recipes
Hankering for a steak? Check out these recipes for inspiration: