On a standard side of beef, you can find a steak that's right for just about everyone. The ball tip steak may be a cut that's unfamiliar if you're not from Michigan, where it is a regional favorite for its budget- and palate-pleasing characteristics. Because it is not the tenderest of steaks, grilling may not be your first inclination, but the ball tip steak is well-suited to the grill with a little prep work.
Ball Tip Location
The ball tip steak is found on the lower end of the sirloin butt on a side of beef. Once the tri-tip and the flap are removed, the muscle that is left behind is the ball tip. Sometimes, ball tip steaks are called petite sirloin or sizzler steaks, but they all mean the same thing. The sirloin area is under the loin and heading into the round at the very back of the animal. These are muscles that do more of the work getting the steer around, so they tend to be tougher than less-used muscles.
Ball Tip Characteristics
The ball tip is a boneless muscle that weighs around 3 pounds. When the other parts of the sirloin butt are cut away, the remaining ball tip is round like a ball, which is where it gets the ball part of its name. It is also on the tip of the sirloin butt, which accounts for the other half of the name. They are less tender than anything from the loin area or even the top sirloin. However, they are economical, and they will work on the grill with some extra time in a marinade first.
Preparing for the Grill
Before a ball tip steaks gets to the grill, it must be tenderized so you and your guests will have a positive experience. Some companies that sell ball tip steaks will tenderize them mechanically ahead of time by creating a lot of "pin holes" in the meat that are designed to break down muscle fibers. Whether the company pins the steaks or not, you can marinade them before grilling to help tenderize them. The details of the marinade are up to you, but generally 1 part oil, 1 part acid and 1 or 2 parts aromatics, sugar and salt is a good ratio. Yogurt is an acid that is used as a tenderizer in some cultures.
The grilling of a ball tip steak should take place on a medium-high grill, with a quick sear on both sides, before reducing the heat or moving it to a cooler part of the grill to finish cooking. Let it rest afterward to help with the tenderness. If you can't grill your ball tip steak or don't want to, moist heat cooking methods like braising works well to break down the tissues and tenderize the meat. Cook the steak to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, whatever method you use.
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