Beef is delicious—but all those different cuts can get confusing, beyond a porterhouse or strip. For example, you’re probably sitting there asking yourself right now: “WTF is tri-tip?”

Kim Severson, who began her “tri-tip courtship” in Northern California, writes,

“Seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper, cooked over red oak in a style that has come to be called Santa Maria barbecue and sliced against the grain, tri-tip is essential to Central California biker bar sandwiches and community fund-raisers.”

Tri-tip roast (which is sometimes called “Newport steak” on the East Coast) is beefy and, at about $8 per pound, juicy beyond its price. But there’s a whole world of cheap cuts out there that are great for grilling—including flap steak, skirt steak, hangers, and flank steak.

In the New York Times video below, Severson and her buddy Nick the Butcher provide us with insight about different cuts—then Severson demos how to grill tri-tip prepared with a Santa Maria-style rub.

A few key facts from the video about “throw away” cuts:

  • Teres major, a cut that comes from the inside of the shoulder, is the second-most tender cut of the entire cow.
  • Flatiron comes from the cow’s shoulder. It’s quite fatty and goes well with marinades and seasonings.
  • Skirt steaks come from the cow’s chest area, and owe much their popularity to fajitas.
  • Tri-tip comes from the top of the bottom round. You can roast it, grill it, smoke it—or, throw it in the crock pot.cut

Go follow Severson’s instructions for Santa Maria tri-tip grilled steak and unleash your inner Northern California biker.

[via The New York Times]