Imagine you are at a fancy steakhouse, staring down at the menu. You've skipped lunch and are feeling hungry. There's a porterhouse steak on the menu. There's also a T-bone steak. Both sound equally appetizing.
What exactly is the difference between a porterhouse and a T-bone steak? We consulted the experts to find out.
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What’s the Difference Between a Porterhouse vs. a T-Bone Steak?
The main difference between porterhouse and T-bone steaks is that they come from different ends of the short loin of a cow. Both the porterhouse and T-bone come from the short loin, running from the last rib through the midsection and into the hip area. A T-shaped bone cuts through the short loin: One side contains the tenderloin, the other the larger shell muscle, otherwise known as the strip steak.
Arielle Hofherr of Hofherr Meat Co. in Northfield, Illinois says the separating point between porterhouse and T-bone steaks comes halfway through the short loin. As the short loin goes from the front of the animal to the back, the tenderloin gets larger. This back part is the porterhouse, which essentially means a larger piece of the tenderloin. (In fact, the USDA requires a steak's tenderloin portion to measure 1¼ inches or greater from bone to edge for it to be classified “porterhouse.”)
(Fact: The Kansas City Strip comes from the very end of the short loin, where the T-shaped bone tapers to a corner.)
Is a T-Bone Steak or a Porterhouse Steak More Expensive?
Because a porterhouse includes more of the tenderloin, it costs more than a T-bone. (At Hofherr, the porterhouse price tag is $2 more per pound.) But when it comes to shopping for porterhouse, bigger isn't always better. Bigger—and more expensive—porterhouses may also be streaked with chewy connective tissue and rubbery fat. Here's why (and how to avoid it).
Charcoal-Grilled Porterhouse or T-Bone SteaksFor grilled steak perfection, we look to a Florentine prototype.
Do Porterhouse and T-Bone Steaks Taste Different?
In terms of flavor, porterhouse and T-bone steaks will taste the same: milder in their beefiness than, say, a ribeye. But they both make up for it in texture—since these muscles get little exercise, they cook up very tender. Our test cooks say porterhouse and T-bone steaks are two-for-the-price-of-one: the best of all worlds for both taste and texture.
How to Grill Porterhouse and T-Bone Steaks
The difficulty comes in cooking these cuts evenly. Since the lean tenderloin part cooks more quickly than the more-marbled strip section, our suggestion (if you're cooking on a grill) is to position the meat so the tenderloin faces the cooler side of the grill. This allows the delicate tenderloin to cook at a slightly slower rate and stay tender and juicy.
Watch our step-by-step video instruction below to see how to cook a porterhouse or T-bone steak on the grill.
Image: Portland Press Herald / Contributor, Getty