Know Your Meat Because Sometimes the Butcher Doesn't

This is a T-bone steak. It comes from the back part of the cow's midsection, and is so named because it has a T-shaped bone holding two different cuts of meat on either side: the New York strip on one side (top, above) and a tenderloin on the other. The steak you see above is a decent-enough-looking T-bone.

We purchased the aforementioned T-bone at the QFC on Roosevelt, along with another T-bone that, on second look, seemed to be tenderloin-less. Rather, it had a tiny flap of meat, smaller than an egg, which no butcher worth his fat would dare call "a tenderloin." The photo evidence didn't turn out. We bought the sorry excuse for beef as part of a class on how to choose meat, and then used it to give students a lesson in caveat emptor at the grocery store.

There are so many new and bogus bits of verbiage on labels in the meat department these days, but there are traditional cuts of meat and traditional phrases, like ribeye and T-bone, that mean something. A very specific something. So know your meat -- use handy charts like these. And by all means, ask questions! Especially when you're paying $10.99 a pound. And if anyone can share with the class what a "Beef boneless chuck Denver steak" might entail, please leave it in the comments.

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