This Is The Best Cut Of Steak For Salads, According To An Executive Chef

Steak may not be the first ingredient that comes to mind for a nice green salad, but maybe it should be. Giada De Laurentiis taught us that a good steak salad is bright and peppery, and those bold flavors can be a great way to entice people who might otherwise skip the salad bowl to up their vegetable intake. To find out what the best cut of steak is for salads, we talked to Sean Thompson, Executive Chef at Porter House in NYC.

"For me personally, it's New York strip steak," said Thompson. Also known simply as strip steak or sometimes Kansas City strip steak, the New York strip comes from the short loin region of the cow, which is famous for its tender cuts and bold flavor. Thompson was well aware that his top pick wasn't the typical choice most chefs reach for. "Leaner cuts tend to work better for salads," Thompson went on. "But I still opt for a strip over a filet for the depth of flavor. This applies pretty consistently across different kinds of salads."

It all comes down to what you're after. New York strip steak doesn't have a reputation for being the most nutritious cut of steak, but beef and other red meats are a healthy part of any diet, so long as you aren't consuming too much of them. That said, if the saturated fat content of New York strip is raising red flags for you, you can opt for a leaner cut as Thompson mentioned. It's a matter of flavor versus nutrition.

Steak salad should strike a balance between its bold ingredients

You may be thinking that if New York strip steak is the best option for salads due to its big flavor profile, then the bolder the steak, the better the salad. But that's not really the case. "Although a ribeye is my preferred cut in most cases, in salads the fattiness tends to throw the balance off," Sean Thompson explained. It's all about finding the right equilibrium between the ingredients. 

Since salads use mostly raw veggies, each ingredient's flavor characteristics are going to be as potent as they can get. Combine that with the fact that there's no cooking process that works to tie the ingredients together and you have a particularly tricky food genre when it comes to balance. So, even when you do add this steak to your salad, you'll want to make sure you cook your New York strip steak the right way before adding it so you have a cohesive plate of food at the end. 

We're making it sound like steak salad is the new soufflé (it isn't), but attention to these little details is what differentiates good cooks from great ones. The idea works both ways, too. Although "salad greens" is a generic term, there are different vegetables to choose from and some pair better with steak than others. Take arugula, for example. It has a strong, peppery zest that makes it a great partner for the bold spice of cooked steak.