Inflation has pushed the price of meat pretty high this summer, and rising gas and grain prices will likely push them higher before they finally plateau. If you’re looking to buy different, cheaper cuts, I highly recommend asking your butcher to separate some beef shoulder tenders for you. They taste like NY strip, cut like fillet mignon, and cost a quarter of the price.
Beef shoulder tenders, sometimes labeled as “tender fillets,” are cut from a small muscle that rests over the cow’s shoulder near the “top blade.” A whole shoulder tender is usually the size of a pork tenderloin. The butcher at my local Publix butterflies them to a one-inch-thickness and sells them three or four to a package. Each fillet is about two ounces, so you’re essentially buying around six ounces of succulent steak for less than four dollars. How cool is that?
When I see shoulder tender fillets in the grocery store, I buy them out. If the fillets are large enough, I grill them like regular steaks. If they’re small, I treat them like beef tips, or tournedos, and sear them on the stovetop with a pan sauce. Along with tri-tip, this is the most economical way to satisfy your steak craving.
It’s funny; I don’t think I’ve ever blogged how to cook a proper steak. I think the best steaks are cooked in a heavy pan over medium-high heat. The pan allows you to develop a good crust similar to what steakhouses get with their high-temperature broilers. Plus, you can make a pan sauce with the rendered fat. But that crust comes at the cost of having a smoky house that will smell like char for at least two days, so I usually just grill my steaks outside. (click here for grilling tips)
I first trim and salt the steaks for at least an hour, then I rinse them clean and pat them dry. Next, I season them liberally with freshly ground pepper and a pinch of kosher salt and I sear them over high, direct heat for a few minutes. After that, I move them to indirect heat until they hit the proper internal temperature (around 120° for rare/med rare). Then I transfer the steaks to a hot plate, top each one of them with a little pat of butter, and let them rest under foil for at least ten minutes. The results are perfectly cooked steaks that have a large, pink center and a robust beef flavor.
If you’re interested in other cuts of beef that are both high quality and low price, click here: Six Affordable Steaks You Should Be Buying