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How to Trim and Cut a Roast into Steaks

You know that silvery colour firewood gets after it’s been cut and sitting around for a few months?  Until it is that exact colour, my mother doesn’t think her steak is done.

Growing up I took it for granted that steaks and roasts were supposed to be hard and chewy.  Like jerky without  the flavour.  Cook it any less and you might get cramps.  Or worms.  Or “the” diarrhoea.  When I got outside of my mother’s anglo-saxon, white bread, peas in a can inspired kitchen and was offered a real steak …  well … I nearly vomited.

All that redness.  It resembled … um … meat.  Blech.  It took about 5 years before I could handle eating a steak that didn’t look like something you’d bury a hamster in.

And once I figured out steaks could be nicely crisp and seared on the outside and warm and tender on the inside without disastrous intestinal consequences … I developed a bit of an addiction.

An expensive one at that.  If I’d developed an addiction to platinum dusted cocaine it would have been cheaper.  A single really good steak is about $20.   A half decent one is probably $10.  So in order to feed my addiction and maintain a bank balance, I started cutting my own steaks from whole roasts.  I haven’t bought a butcher cut steak in about 5 years.

And here’s how you do it.

1.  The best roast for cutting into steaks is a Tenderloin.  That’s my personal preference anyway.  Stiploins comes in at #2.  You can also do a Sirloin Tip (only for rare or medium-rare steaks otherwise they get tough), Top  Sirloin and Prime Rib (Rib Eye steaks).

2.  Look for a roast that is as close to an even thickness from one end to the other as you can find.  Visualize cutting it into steaks.  If you can only get 3 or 4 before the roast gets thin looking, pick another one.  (this only pertains to a tenderloin)

3.  The best way to preserve your steaks is to Foodsaver them.  Freeze the steaks on a waxed paper lined baking sheet first, and then Foodsaver them.  Otherwise the Foodsaver will squash the steaks.  If you wait to Foodsaver until they’re frozen they won’t get squashed.

4.  Cutting your own steaks from a whole roast will always be cheaper than buying them pre-cut.  But if you buy the roasts when they’re on sale you’ll save even more money!  Yay!  I usually wait until my local grocery store or Costco has Tenderloin roasts for half price  then I buy at least 3 and turn 1 into a 2 smaller roasts and the rest into steaks.  Just after I shot this video my grocery store had tenderloins on sale and I did a few more roasts.  These tenderloin steaks ended up costing me $5 each!

5.  Always cut and freeze your roasts the day you buy them.  That way when you go to pull them out of the freezer to cook, they’ll be as fresh as they day you bought them.  Not lousy old, been sitting around in the fridge for a few days meat.  Good meat.

6. Use the leftover trimmings as either stewing beef, stir fry meat or just grill up the irregular chunks and eat em. That’s what I did. I even grilled some of the stuff I’d cut up for stewing beef. Little cubes of seared deliciousness. They’d be GREAT appetizers. All they need is a bit of spice and one of those cool toothpicks with the squiggly cellophane on the end. I love those toothpicks.

Happy butchering! (or Bitchering depending on your mood) Happy money saving! Happy eating. Burp.


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21 Comments | Filed Under: DIY Home Decor & Design Videos, Kitchen | Tags: , ,

21 Responses to How to Trim and Cut a Roast into Steaks

  1. Shannon says:

    I love little steak bits. I call em “bitsies”.

    Why do we need to foodsaver them after they’re frozen out of curiosity? Does it just make em last longer in the freezer?

    PS: I’m first again. It is becoming a bit of a habit, I wish I could quit you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Shannon – I’m precisely a year and a half late answering this. Not quite, but close to it actually. You have to freeze your steaks before you Foodsaver them because otherwise the Foodsaver will squash your meat from the powerful suction. If you freeze the steaks, they’ll keep their shape. Worth the wait? ~ karen

  2. Shauna says:

    Great tip Karen. Maybe you could find a neighbour on your way to the cabin and see if they would sell you a half or 1/4 animal the next time they butcher. Then you could save more and get a variety of cuts. It might not be as cheap as Costco half price days, but seeing the grass the cow eats is worth it!! And buying local is always nice :)

  3. deborahinps says:

    Great post Karen!
    Meat on “sale” or half price days at Costco that Shauna speaks of? Where? Lemme at em!
    I’ve butchered tenderloins from Costco but never seem to get the nice looking steaks they have already cut up…I’ve wondered if I’m buying the end piece Costco’s butchers took the best “cuts” off of already. Hmm.
    I’ll have to tie them like you suggest, as they do look nicer for sure.
    I’m a lucky owner of a Foodsaver :)
    And wondering if you’ve tried aging your meat in the frig? Ya know since we lowly home cooks can’t even buy aged beef if we wanted to. And the difference in taste is oh so yum!

  4. Janelle says:

    That is fan-freakin’-tastic. I am pretty sure Betty & Larke (my mom) had the same drunken, confused home economics teacher. Anyway, due to unresolved barbecue issues I have had to resort to cooking steaks indoors and found a very spectacular recipe for pan-seared thick cut steaks on cooksillustrated.com. Now, thanks to you, I can cut my own tenderloin steaks and cook them perfectly, all without having to mortgage my home or buy/install a bbq thingy. Many thanks.

    • Karen says:

      Janelle – I absolutely LOVE pan frying steaks. I would go so far as to say they’re as good as BBQ. Yup. I said it. Pan seared steaks are as good as BBQ steaks. Plus you can make a red wine pan sauce when you pan cook them. Win, win. Eat, eat.

  5. Lori says:

    Hey Karen,

    This is incredibly timely: 1) I have seen those big honking roasts and have never had a clue as to what to do with them; and 2) I was just in my local Zehr’s Market and what-would-you-know? A whole case of beef tenderloins on sale for $6.99 a pound! Crazy, no?

    To say that I love your blog is an understatement. :)

  6. kristin says:

    My husband is OBSESSED with filet mignon. So, for his birthday, I was going to shell out the money for a couple of steaks and surprise him with a fancy meal. There’s no way I could find a $6 filet mignon. This couldn’t have come at a better time!It’s WAY smarter and definitely more my speed. I’m already cutting up my own chickens, why am I not doing beef? Thanks for the info — AGAIN!

  7. Langela says:

    We are not steak eaters in our house. They’re ok, but we prefer to smoke our roasts in the smoker. I know we’re weird. We actually get a third of a beef for Christmas from my in-laws and we trade the other siblings our steaks for their roasts or hamburger. It works out great for everyone.

  8. taryn says:

    I just love the fact you are wearing a big shiny bangle while cutting up meat.
    Awesomeness.

  9. Pam'a says:

    Hey! Maybe your mom and mine went to meat school together. Mom’s motto was “Pork scares me.” So I grew up eating shoe leather (albeit pig) just like you! Nowadays, I prefer meat simply prepared– i.e., running it through a warm room before serving.

  10. Alisha says:

    Ooo OOOH! Since we’re in the habit of learning things around here I can tell you what the silver skin is called AND its function! Ready? Ok so it’s called ‘fascia’ (Luke, I am your fascia … ) Anyways, its main function in a living critter is to bind structures together, hold them in place much like your twine does and it allows muscles to slide over one another when contracting. Smart right? This is my smart face 8-)

  11. Kerri says:

    I just wanted you to know that I watched this video with never, ever having any intention of cutting my own steaks from a giant piece of tenderloin.

    That is until I walked into Sobeys this morning and found beef tenderloin on sale for $7.99 a pound. It is giant, it is raw and it is gross…but tastes soooo good! It is in fact the only type of steak that I will eat…the hubby calls me a “meat snob”.

    Anyway, I brought that sucker home and used every single tip from your video to get myself 9 (not so big), 3 (caveman big) beautiful filet mignons as well as some chunks of beef that we’ll use for stew…mmm stew. The best part is it only cost me $43.00!

    Thanks for your inspiration.

    • Karen says:

      Kerri – You’re WELCOME! That’s fun! $3.50 per filet mignon. Not bad. I love hearing that people do stuff that they didn’t think they could/or even wanted to do. So when’s the BBQ? You’ll have to look at my red wine pan sauce recipe too. It’s great with these steaks done in a cast iron frying pan. ~ karen!

  12. jim says:

    Karen if you want sharper knives get cutco. they are the best in the world.

  13. Elinor Wilcox says:

    Just stumbled upon your site! Love your humor and your handy tips too!
    Already bookmarked into “Entertainment”. Thanks!

  14. silvie says:

    put your roll of string into a plastic yogurt container, cut a hole in the lid and pull out clean kitchen twine as you need it. A strip of bacon will also hold a tenderloin nicely together.

  15. Tigersmom says:

    I’m working my way through the videos currently. This is one I’ve really needed.

    My mother’s steak on the grill was also the one indistinguishable from the lumps of charcoal.
    I actually remember being outside playing after dinner one night and my aunt asking me what I was chewing on. It was a bite of meat my mother had served at dinner 2 HOURS earlier. NO LIE! I could not break it down enough with my not-unimpressive choppers to swallow it. I ended up spitting out.

    I pretty much didn’t like meat until I got out of the house and discovered how wonderful it could be when it wasn’t subjected to the fires of hell first. In the beginning of course, like any rebel, I went the polar opposite direction and insisted my steaks be RARE, as in cool in the center. Over time, my rebellion has tamed and I now love nothing better than a beautiful med rare filet mignon. I never make steaks at home because I can’t get the same quality as in a restaurant and because Holy Cow is it expensive. Now I can justify buying steaks and having them at home…once I find a foodsaver.

    Thanks again.

  16. rob says:

    Thank you for this posting. Ribeye happens to be my favorite and I’m sure you know that Costco (god I love it there) sells the steaks SO THICK that it’s really a waste of money if you are trying to be on a budget. I bought a Ribeye roast once and tried cutting my own thinner steaks but they got butchered up pretty good (bad?) I will try the idea of freezing a little but first but, when cutting them thin (say 1/2″) will I still have problems? do electric knives work better than regular??

    • Karen says:

      Rob – I prefer to use a regular, sharp, chef’s knife, but you could use an electric knife. Just make sure your meat isn’t tooo frozen. 1/2″ is pretty thin for a steak. I’d be inclined to push it towards at least 3/4′s of an inch for proper cooking. Strip Loin and Prime Rib both work really well with this method. Good luck! ~ karen

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