The steak is the go to piece of meat for grilling up a special meal at home. A T-bone steak is considered the ultimate steak for many beef lovers, but consider paying a bit more and scoring the Rolls Royce of big meat cuts the next time your fire up the grill.
What is the difference in the two cuts? And why does a porterhouse cost more? I checked in with veteran butcher Willie Hughes at Savannah's Smith Brothers Butcher Shop for the details.
"On a porterhouse the small side, the tenderloin, is much bigger than the same side on a T-bone," explained Hughes. "When we're cutting, for a piece to be called a porterhouse, the tenderloin side has to be at least three gingers wide."
You can see that illustrated in the photo above. The porterhouse, on the left, has a massive tenderloin. The T-bone steak, right, has a narrow strip of meat on its tenderloin side. Industry specs often define a porterhouse has having a tenderloin that is 1 1/2-inches or more wide.
But why the price difference?
"You can only get four or five porterhouses from the strip. As your move away from the center, the tenderloin grows smaller -- and that's where the T-bones are cut from," Hughes explained. "The higher price is because there are fewer porterhouses. If we sold both cuts for the same price per pound, we'd be left with piles of T-bones."
Hughes knows meat and is among a very small collective of real butchers that re left in the city. He has been a fixture in Savannah butcher shops since since 1976, two years after he graduated form high school. "I tried a job at the paper company, and that wasn't working for me. I applied at a grocery store and they asked what I could do. I asked them what paid best, they said the meat department. I've been cutting meat ever since."
Hughes longest stint has been with Smith Brothers. In their new Liberty Street location, Hughes makes lots of sausage very week, but also oversees dry aging, smoking and also breaks down fish. "We do get in whole hogs, but it's almost impossible to get a hanging beef anymore. We get cry-vac pieces that we we cut down."
I took this porterhouse home to find a new home on the Big Green Egg. A quick sear at 600 degrees on each side, then I shut down the dampers and let it finish cooking -- until it reached 140-degrees F internal temps. Ms. TJ polished off every bite of the tenderloin; the strip side was perfect for me. Seasoning was simply Himalayan pink salt and fresh ground black pepper.