Entrecôte is the French word for a beef steak cut from between the ribs; in other words, a thin, boneless rib-eye. This makes a good cut for quick cooking in a skillet or on the grill or for portion control as it's typically half the thickness of a bone-in rib-eye.
What Is Entrecôte?
The beef rib primal represents the forequarter of a side of beef, cut from just behind the beef chuck and containing the sixth through the twelfth ribs.
A butcher can cut seven thick bone-in rib-eyes from a primal. However, there's meat between the bones as well, so if the butcher cuts thinner bone-in rib-eyes flush with the bone on each side, there will also be six boneless steaks left from the meat between each bone-in rib-eye. These steaks are the entrecôtes.
A thick-cut boneless rib-eye is technically not an entrecôte, because butchers cut these from a boneless rib roast. This allows them to cut steaks of any desired thickness but does not distinguish the intercostal meat.
At one time, the word entrecôte referred specifically to steaks that came from the center of the rib primal, between the ninth and tenth ribs and the tenth and eleventh ribs. This meant there were just two entrecôtes available from each side of beef, giving the cut a mysterious yet wholly arbitrary allure.
How to Cook Entrecôte
Think about how to cook a ribeye steak when you think about how to cook an entrecôte: four minutes on one side and then three minutes on the other side. But this assumes a steak of 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick. An entrecôte might be only 1/2 or 3/4 of an inch, which means you need to be quick about it.
It also means getting your pan very hot before you put the steak in it. It's not an exaggeration to say that an entrecôte might need only a minute or two on each side to reach perfect medium rare. Because they're so thin, it's easy to overcook them, and you don't want an overcooked entrecôte any more than you want an overcooked rib-eye.
What Does Entrecôte Taste Like?
The meat between the ribs is called intercostal meat. If you've ever had beef back ribs, you're mainly gnawing at the intercostal meat, because there's usually very little meat on the underside of beef ribs. That's because butchers can sell rib-eye steaks for a higher price than they can sell beef ribs, so they trim them as closely as possible. However, this intercostal meat is every bit as tender and flavorful as a rib-eye steak because it is rib-eye steak.
Cook a rib-eye labeled entrecôte as you would any boneless rib-eye, but keep in mind that this thinner cut cooks much more quickly, in approximately half the time. It's well-marbled meat, but it turns chewy and dry easily.
Where to Buy Entrecôte
Look for thin, boneless rib-eyes, which may or may not be labeled entrecôte, depending on the butcher. You may encounter thin rib-eye steaks cut from a boneless roast, which cook and taste identical to an entrecôte even if they do not technically include only the intercostal meat.
How to Store Entrecôte
You can store the entrecôte as you would any steak, in the store packaging or otherwise tightly wrapped for up to three days in the refrigerator. For freezer storage, wrap each steak individually in plastic wrap or specialty butcher paper, then package them together in a zip-top freezer bag. The extra wrapping helps prevent freezer burn on this thin cut.
Cooked steak lasts in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days but does not fare particularly well in the freezer.