Top Sirloin is a favorite steak choice for home cooks and professional chefs alike. It is primarily cut from the sirloin of the animal but differs from regular sirloin steaks in that it has had the bone and some of the other muscles removed. Top sirloin
tends to be of slightly higher quality than regular sirloin and also tends to be more tender. It has a rich history as a popular and slightly higher-end choice of steak that is flavorful and juicy yet affordable. The word sirloin comes from the French sur la longe, which means above the loin.
Nutrition Value of Steak
Steak is the typically the star of any entree meal. It is rich in protein while being relatively lean. Like most red meat, it is a primary source of complete protein and an excellent source of several nutrients
including potassium, calcium and iron. While these advantages make it a healthy meal option, red meat has some nutritional downsides, including a higher than average amount of fat and cholesterol and an overall lacking of vitamins and minerals. That said, when appropriately complemented with salads or vegetable sides, a steak makes an excellent centerpiece for a balanced and filling meal.
Steps for Perfect Preparation and Cooking
Cooking the best top sirloin is simple to learn but takes some practice to execute flawlessly. The keys are proper preparation
, the right seasonings
and excellent timing.
Temperature and Marinade
The secret to great tasting steak is often how it’s handled before it ever reaches the pan. The steak should be brought out of the refrigerator, at least, an hour before cooking so that it can reach room temperature throughout. Obviously, never try to cook a frozen steak. If the meat has been frozen, then it should be thawed in the refrigerator overnight or until it is completely thawed. Do not thaw steaks or any meat for that matter, in water or the microwave. Thawing in water may contaminate the meat or lead to bacterial growth. Thawing in a microwave or oven will cook the outside of the meat before the inside is thawed, ruining the steak.
This wait time is also an excellent opportunity to add marinades to the steak
. While top sirloin steaks are usually considered grill steaks and are tender enough not to require a marinade, they can add great flavor for a truly above average meal. The choice of whether or not to marinade is often one of flavor and appearance. The marinade will probably change the look of the sear on the outside of the steak. A variety of marinades can be used depending on the desired flavor, and it’s not hard to make your own. It is important to give the marinade long enough to penetrate into the meat without breaking down the outside of the steak or over tenderizing it. Just place the steak in a bag filled with the marinade, work it around a bit to get a nice coating and let it sit. The time it takes the meat to reach optimal room temperature is just long enough to impart some extra flavor to the meat, so it fits nicely with the rest of the process.
Paper Towel Prep
Once the steak has reached room temperature throughout, pat it down with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. This helps with the sear. If a marinade was used, the paper towel step is still important to ensure excessive amounts of the marinade are not left on the steak. Excessive marinade or pieces of the marinade ingredients may char on the outside of the steak, creating a bitter flavor.
Heat the Pan
An often overlooked step is to have the frying pan properly heated before placing the meat on it. Heating the oil in the pan has several critical advantages. It ensures the meat has a proper sear and seal the moment it hits the pan. This locks the juices inside where the are supposed to be. It also prevents excess oil from seeping into the steak.
Heat the pan with about a tablespoon of cooking oil or butter in it. The oil you use can vary, but it is important to choose something that can stand up to high heat without burning or making an off flavor. Coconut oil or ghee is usually the best choice. You will know the oil is ready when it begins emitting faint white smoke.
Salt Before Cooking
There is a long-standing argument about whether steak should be salted before or after cooking. Although this case has been mostly settled by food scientists, it is still common to hear that salting can draw moisture and flavor out of the meat. It was found that the opposite is true. The salt firms the outside of the steak and prevents the loss of moisture and flavor, so remember that despite what you may hear always salt your steak before cooking. A pinch or two of salt on each side is ideal. Kosher salt is a nice choice because its flavor is milder, but any salt can be used. Just be careful not to oversalt the meat.
The Sizzling Sirloin
Finally, it is time for the actual cooking. Gently place the steak in the center of the pan and welcome the loud sizzle. It is most important to be patient and precise with this step. Do not fuss over the steak. It should be turned as little as possible, preferably only once. The exact cooking times vary depending on the desired level of doneness. The traditional medium-rare level can be achieved with about three minutes of cooking on each side. Decrease by about a minute each side for rare and increase a minute or two on each side for medium and well.
A meat thermometer is your best friend when cooking a steak. You want to avoid cutting into the steak to check for doneness because this ruins the appearance and release all the juices and flavor into the pan. Since cooking time can vary due to so many factors, tracking temperature instead of time is always the best approach. An internal temperature of 130-135 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal for medium-rare. Be sure to jab the thermometer as close to the middle of the steak as possible for the best reading.
As tempting as it may be to dive right into your freshly cooked steak, resist! This final step is critical to a juicy and flavorful steak. Resting a steak allows the juices, which have gone wild during cooking, to redistribute throughout the meat and settle. If the steak is cut into before this happens, the juices will flow out of the steak, and you will be left with a dry and flavorless hunk.
The steak should be placed under a tent-shaped piece of aluminum foil for about five minutes to rest. The foil is important to prevent the outside of the steak from cooling off too much. After resting, plate the steak and sprinkle with coarse ground pepper and any additional garnish.
Picking the Best Cut
Now that you know how to prepare and cook the best top sirloin possible, it is important to discuss some other information and skills to get the most out of your steak. The first matter is your choice of cut
. While all top sirloin cuts have similar qualities to be considered top sirloin, they are not all created equal.
The easiest and most obvious way to determine steak quality is to examine the USDA label. There are a variety of different labels but only two concern most store-bought meat: USDA Choice and Prime. The choice is the affordable meat of standard quality. Prime represents the best grade of meat. If you can afford Prime, then it is by far the better choice.
Depending on where you shop for meat, there might be other buying options as well. If possible, visit an actual butcher’s shop, but since these are few and far between, a high-end grocery store will usually have its butchers for you to talk to about the meat sold there. They can offer the best options and answers questions about the meat’s quality and origin. If possible, buy meat directly from the butcher’s rack or case and not from the prepackaged selection.
tends to be better all around than beef finished on grain. Grass-fed beef is usually more expensive and will be clearly labeled. Examine the meat for good marbling, the bits of fat scattered throughout the meat. The fat and marbling of beef is usually white and should have no black or brown spots. The one exception is the fat of grass-fed beef, which may be slightly yellow. Also, consider the color and smell of the meat. The meat is usually a healthy bright red. Meat in the case may age slightly toward the end of the day and become dull, but this has little bearing on its quality. It should smell fresh and not like ammonia. If buying the meat in a prepackaged container, check for excess water or liquids that may indicate the meat was previously frozen. Do not buy frozen meat if you can help it.
Although a steak is the star of any meal, it is complemented and completed by the right sides and drinks. There are a wide variety of possible sides for a steak dinner, and it helps to know the people you are serving and what they might prefer. Potatoes and sauteed vegetables, especially mushrooms, are some of the more traditional sides served with steak. It may also work to put the sauteed mushrooms on top of the steak as kind of side/garnish.
You can get much more creative from there. Presentation wise, it is best to get something with color on the plate. Half a grilled tomato enhanced with a splash of vinegar can do the trick. You could also include a cabbage slaw or creamed spinach. One creative side that adds a little Italian flair along with a burst of flavor and color is bruschetta topped with generous amounts of fresh chopped basil.
Heavier sides may include things like macaroni and cheese or fried items like onion rings or steak fries. Remember always to cater your sides to a person’s taste. One person may like lighter sides, and another may prefer heavier.
Red wine is the classic drink to have with a steak dinner. Although a variety of red wines may pair with top sirloin, there is some variety of tastefulness in this selection, too. Again, if you are choosing the wine for your guests, be aware of their particular tastes.
The classic cabernet sauvignon and cabernet blends are an easy and familiar wine for most Americans. It is not as tannic as merlot, which can overpower most drinkers. For a greater depth of flavor, aim for the traditional Bordeaux-style blend, which includes mostly Cabernet
with some Merlot and a few minor grapes like Petit Verdot
. The American version of this blend is usually called Meritage and may easier to identify. The Italian version of this substitutes Sangiovese for either the cabernet or merlot and tends to be lighter in flavor.
Malbec is a more exotic wine from Argentina. It is the traditional South American accompaniment to steak and burgers, and it can provide a refreshing and slightly spicier flavor compared to the traditional cabernet blends.
Many wine lovers enjoy the rich and slightly sweet taste of zinfandel with steak. Zinfandel
tends to be a very approachable wine for many people with a rich depth of flavor that is not overpowering or overly tannic.
Appearance and Presentation
Many home cooks don’t worry too much about the look and presentation of their meals. If the food is prepared well and on the plate, then it is good enough. If you are looking to elevate truly the meal, then considering presentation and appearance is important. Don’t just pile the food on the plate and call it good. Try to surround the steak elegantly, and possibly elevate it by laying it on a bed of lettuce or grilled onions. Garnish the plate appropriately with parsley or chopped green onion but not excessively. Put messy sides like mac and cheese or creamed spinach in their own small round dishes to contain them.
Warming plates are something often overlooked by home cooks, but it is essential to the temperature of the food. Simply slip the plates for a minute or so in a warm oven before plating. This ensures the edges of the food don’t get immediately cold and unappetizing. Once the food is plated, but before adding garnish, be sure to wipe the plate clean of any spots or smears.
Creating the perfect steak dinner with top sirloin is possible for just about every home cook armed with the right knowledge and ingredients. Although cooking the perfect steak can take some practice, you now have everything you need to get started and serve up a filling and hearty steak dinner. And if you would like to try the best sirloin steak in Brooklyn
, you should come visit Atlas Steakhouse