A grass-fed Porterhouse

Meat Cuts 101: Porterhouse

NAMP Number: 1173
Muscle Name(s): longissimus dorsi, psoas major
Other Names: Lomo, Bistec Porterhouse, His and Hers Steak, Aloyau gros filet, Club Steak
Best Cooking Method:  Keep it rare.  The tenderloin can overcook quick.  This steak just wants a couple minutes on the grill.

Let me set the scene for you, it’s a balmy summer night and the lass you’ve had your eye on is coming over for a homemade dinner.  The grill is the obvious choice in this case, but clearly hamburgers just won’t do - this is a girl for whom the concept of a romantic dinner involving your old Weber isn't an instant turn off - you’ve really got no choice but to bust out the king of steaks: the Porterhouse.
The great thing about the porterhouse is that it’s really two steaks in one.  On the one side you’ve got a super flavorful New York Strip (aka the longissimus dorsi muscle), and on the other a succulent psoas major – the beef tenderloin.  Running down the middle you’ve got a lumbar vertebrae which comes in a well-known “T” shape.  The rules on Porterhouse vs T-bone are pretty clear “The minimum width of the psoas major shall be at least 1.25” when measured parallel to the length of the back bone.  The internet tells me that this is about the diameter of a 50 cent piece – whatever that is.

Looking from the loin-end of the short loin at the Porterhouse. At this point you can cut this sucker as thick as you’d like – and you should.
The cut gets it’s name from the Porterhouse restaurant in New York – the one from the 1800’s, not the one that’s in the same shopping mall food court as Per Se.  It’s also known as a “His and Hers” steak, which is pretty apt, given that it’s size and composition make it perfect for sharing.  I’m not sure who gets what in that equation, since my wife would take the Strip every time.

Given these constraints on size, the amount of porterhouse steaks each animal can yield is pretty low.  Of course, this yield gets even lower when you cut the porterhouse in the style of the Italian Bistecca all fiorentina.  This traditional tuscan dish is composed of a porterhouse cut 2.5-3.5” thick – a steak can easily top five pounds.  The steak is grilled quickly on each side, and then stood up on the backbone portion and placed in front of the bank of coals to finish cooking – which isn’t long because those dudes eat their meat RARE.  Drizzled with a ton of olive oil and rubbed with rosemary to finish, it’s about as simple as it can get.  Try it, you’ll love it.  Trust me. 

Loin primal. Buried under all that suet is a porterhouse waiting to happen.

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