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T-Bone Vs Porterhouse Steak. Which is better?

T-bone and porterhouse steaks are some of the common varieties of steak for meat lovers. The fact that they look alike in appearance does not mean they are the same. Various organizations have demarcated strict rules to clarify the illusion of similarity between T-bone and porterhouse steak.

The best cut of steak depends on your taste and preferences. However, many people find it difficult to choose between a T-bone and porterhouse steak when they have no idea of the differences between the two types of steak. This article makes it easier for you by giving the major differences between T-bone and porterhouse steak and the desired option for most people when ordering food in a steakhouse.

T-bone and Porterhouse Steak
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What is T-bone steak?

A T-bone steak is smaller than porterhouse in size. It is extracted from the saddle and can be recognized easily by the T-shaped bone that separates the sirloin and tenderloin on both sides of the steak. The side with sirloin is usually larger and insulated by fat. However, professional cooks use several tricks to get both sides done just right. A classic T-bone steak is beautifully seared on the grill, cut up against the fibers and left to rest before being served with garlic-scented butter to enhance the flavor.

What is a Porterhouse Steak?

The larger tenderloin muscle of a porterhouse steak is what differentiates it from T-bone steak. It is a composite steak derived from the rear of the short loin, which contains the thickest layer of tenderloin. Once you have cut out the two steaks that make up porterhouse steak and then remove the bone, you will be left with a top loin and tenderloin steak. You can always expect larger portions when ordering porterhouse steak, as it is often marketed in steakhouses as a meal for two.

Major Differences between T-bone and Porterhouse Steak

  • Size and Source of Meat

The size of the filet can differentiate a T-bone from a porterhouse steak. Generally, porterhouse steaks have more filet compared to T-bone steak and are always a preferable meal for two people.

The size of a porterhouse steak should be at least 1.25 inches thick as they are derived from the rear of the short loin where the tenderloin is in abundance. A T-bone steak contains less filet as it is derived from the saddle, which has small amounts of tenderloin.

  • Method of Preparation

A T-bone steak is made for grilling where the tenderloin remains tender and flavorful as the generous bits of fat keep the steak moist. The T-shaped bone provides a sturdy handle to grab and flip the steak without the need for puncturing through the meat.

The steak should be cooked hot and fast and requires little adornment with light oiling and seasoning. While a porterhouse steak can be cooked on a grill, you can achieve better results with a hot smoking cast iron skillet on the stovetop or the broiler. Starting hot and fast gives the surface a good sear. Unlike T-bone steak, porterhouse requires more time for preparation depending on how you want the steak done.

  • The Appearance of Steak

T-bone steaks are distinguished by their T-shaped bone with sections of meat on each side. They are comprised of smaller amounts of tenderloin and are often cut closer to the front. Porterhouse steak is differentiated from T-bone steak by its thickness as it contain larger amounts of tenderloin. Both steaks may include the T-shaped bone but a porterhouse will have a large strip steak and more tenderloin on the other side of the bone.

Which Type of Steak is Better?

The decision to choose between T-bone steak and porterhouse steak is determined by individual tastes and preferences. Either portion can be expensive but a porterhouse steak is likely to serve two people with leftovers given the amount of tenderloin in the steak. Ordering a porterhouse and a T-bone is like doubling your meal delight especially when dining on a Certified USDA Prime. The final taste depends on the method of preparation and doneness of the steak based on individual preferences.

Both T-bone and porterhouse steaks are made of two kinds of beef, cook at different rates and taste best at different temperatures. However, porterhouse steaks have more filet compared to T-bone steaks and are best for people who want bigger portions for two. Generally, the USDA has strict guidelines on the size of filet present in a steak for it to be qualified as a porterhouse. Keep in mind that thickness is sometimes not used as a standard measure since each of these steaks can be served separately from the bone.

T-Bone Steak – Here is some useful Wikipedia T-Bone Steak Information in case you wanted to learn more about it.

a beautiful juicy t bone steak with tomatoes and fries

Nutrition: T Bone Steak Vs Porterhouse

Whether you are dining in or taking out, there are few things better than a juicy slab of perfectly cooked T-Bone or Porterhouse steak on your plate. Packed full of protein, which is essential for muscle growth and recovery, red meat is also high in iron and vitamin B-12, which boosts the immune system and keeps red blood cells healthy.

Porterhouse steaks are pretty much the same cut as a T-bone steak. Interestingly, every porterhouse steak is a T-bone, but not every T-bone steak is a porterhouse. And both of these steaks are the best-of-both worlds because they both include two cuts of beef. So, what’s the difference between these two beef cuts? And what are their nutritional similarities differences?

T-Bone Steak

Largely an American cut, a T-bone steak is from the spinal area with the least used muscles. Coming from front section of the steer’s short loin where the narrowing tenderloin is, this cut of beef gets its name from the T-shaped lumbar bone which separates the two pieces of meat. The T-bone steak combines the meaty flavor filled strip portion and the signature tender-filled cut of filet mignon. While most T-bones are generally cut around 1-inch thick, it’s certainly not unusual to find these steaks over one and a half inches thick.

Most steakhouses cook their beef cuts above an open flame, so T-bone steaks are an excellent cut for grilling in your backyard. Just remember that the leaner tenderloin will cook much more quickly than the other strip side of this dual cut steak, so you should do your best to keep it further from flames to ensure both sides of the bone are cooked evenly.

Cut from below a Porterhouse, the high-fat content of a T-bone steak means that it will stay tender while it is cooking. A T-bone steak can deliver around 23 grams of protein for each 3-ounce serving, plus almost one-third of daily vitamin B12 intake. It also provides good doses of vitamin B6, riboflavin, and niacin, as well as beneficial trace minerals of iron, zinc, and selenium. But because a T-bone is also high in cholesterol and fat, this cut of beef is best consumed in moderation.

A single T-bone steak serving delivers a quite reasonable 180 to 210 calories and around 14 grams of fat, with saturated fat accounting for around 1 third of this total, depending on how closely exterior fat is trimmed and the volume of marbled fat. Remember that the average T-bone steak weighs around 12 ounces, with larger cuts tipping the scales at around 24 ounces, so the nutrition per serving information below will need to be multiplied depending on the steak size to get the most accurate data.

Porterhouse Steak

The porterhouse is a composite steak that is cut much thicker than a T-Bone steak and must contain a significantly larger amount of the tenderloin filet in relation to the loin portion. Carved from the larger tenderloin portion, the porterhouse is cut from the area where the tenderloin meets the top loin. On one side of the center T-shaped bone is the top loin, better known as a New York Strip, and the other side is a tenderloin filet. Regulated by US Department of Agriculture, to qualify for classification as a Porterhouse steak, the filet portion must be a minimum of 1 and 1/4 inches thick between the widest edge and the bone.

The undisputed king of T-Bone steaks, the Porterhouse combines two different beef cuts which eliminates having to make a difficult choice deciding between the two. You can expect significant portions when you order a porterhouse steak, so it’s not uncommon for the meat to be hanging off the outside edge of your plate. Sometimes weighing over 2 pounds, a porterhouse can be served in slices or as whole, depending on how you’d like to divide it up. It can be a tremendous meal or even a massive challenge for anyone with a hearty appetite, as this classic cut is often sold as a meal for two in most restaurants. As a two-person meal, a porterhouse steak is the perfect choice to indulge in for any special occasion.

Cuts of Beef from the Butcher Shop!
Cuts of Beef from the Butcher Shop!

Often quite expensive and full of flavor, a Porterhouse steak cut from choice tenderloin provides ample protein like most cuts of beef, as well as some B vitamins, zinc, and iron. But as there are usually over 1,000 calories per pound and porterhouse steaks commonly weigh at least 2 pounds, the nutritional considerations for this massive steak will ultimately depend on how much of you actually end up consuming.

History & Etymology of T Bone & Porterhouse Steaks

Essentially two steaks in one cut, a T-bone steak is typically crosscut from the front section of the short loin on a cow’s middle back where the tenderloin narrows, with the T-shaped lumbar bone separating the two pieces. The T-bone combines the signature tenderness of the tenderloin and the meaty flavor of a strip of the top loin, often called a New York strip when it’s sold on its own, which are both desired cuts by themselves.

Regulations state that a T-bone must have at least 1/2 inch of the tenderloin filet mignon and also be cut at least 1-inch thick.

Raw beef steak T bone with ingredient . Porterhouse on cutting board .
T-bone steaks are a popular choice for special occasions at upscale restaurants, and they generally command a premium price. The premium price reflects the cut of the cow, coming from the spine area with the least used muscles.

One And The Same?

Porterhouse steaks are essentially the same as a T-bone steak but larger in size (and without the bone). This massive plate full of meat, often large enough for two people to share, has grown in popularity throughout the USA to become a staple of steak houses everywhere. While T-bone steaks are historically an American cut, confusingly the strip side of the T-bone cut in British Commonwealth countries is called the Porterhouse, while the tenderloin cut is called the fillet.

An official Porterhouse steak must have a larger tenderloin filet cut at the widest point to qualify, as opposed to just a T-bone steak. The USDA officially requires that a Porterhouse steak has been cut no less than 1 1/4 thick, which typically translates at restaurants to a 16-ounce portion. However, Porterhouse steaks can be much larger than that, so it is quite common to find them available on steakhouse menus from around 1.5 inches and weighing 24 ounces, up to 2.25 inches and weighing 48 ounces.

Cornelius Mathews - 1850
Cornelius Mathews – 1850

The Names

While the etymology of T-Bone Steak obviously comes from the T-shaped bone which separates the two pieces of beef, the origin of the name Porterhouse is quite contentious. There are several establishments and cities who have all claimed to have coined the term over the years.

Many believe the most probable origin of this name is somehow derived from when restaurants or chophouses were called Porterhouses around 1754 and served a type of beer which was called porter. As for Porterhouse being used to describe a certain type of steak served in these establishments, it didn’t seem to appear on menus in New York City steakhouses until the term first popped up sometime around the 1840s.

Unfortunately, clearly documented proof this theory within old menus is a bit lacking. The best documented instance of the term “porterhouse steak” comes from Cornelius Mathews in 1842 with “I’ll take a small porter-house steak without the bone” in ‘The Career of Puffer Hopkins’.

One popular story seemed to have gained a fair amount of traction sometime late in the 19th century, especially with people from around the Boston area. This one says that Zachariah B. Porter, who was the proprietor of Porter’s hotel and restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts, actually gave the cut his name.

As for other alternate theories, some claim that the steak takes its name from a popular 19th-century hotel in Flowery Branch in Georgia called the Porter House.

Porter Square Hotel, Cambridge, Mass
Porter Square Hotel, Cambridge, Mass

The Legend

a photo of Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Others still have been known to claim that the origin of this steak comes from the famous English novelist, Charles Dickens, who inadvertently named the cut after visiting Sandusky, Ohio’s Porter house. According to this story, which was recorded by a local lawyer named Hewson Peeke in a multi-volume history of the region or Southern Lake Eerie, Dickens was served the steak in Sandusky during a visit in 1842. Dickens then traveled to Buffalo in New York State where he asked the owner of a hotel there for steak like the ones at Porter house in Sandusky.

According to the legend, the proprietor of the hotel in Buffalo was then said to make a small fortune by advertising Porterhouse steaks made how Charles Dickens likes them. According to an article in the Cambridge Chronicle in 1923, Charles Dickens’ signature was remarkably said to have been found in an old register kept in the basement of the Sandusky Porter house.

But in the end, the most likely and prominent theory for the origin of this steak’s name actually comes from around 1814 when Martin Morrison, the proprietor of Porter House in Pearl Street, Manhattan, started serving particularly large T-bones steaks. This is the etymology that is listed in the Oxford English Dictionary, while it also makes note that there is no contemporary evidence available which supports this version nor contradicts it.

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