Beef lovers face an unfortunate dilemma at the supermarket: Tender cuts are usually costly; and value cuts are often tough. One exception to that rule is steak tips. These are usually cut from the sirloin -- they're often labeled as sirloin tips, or "kabob meat" -- and make an appealing mid-range selection. They're chewier than the best steaks, but flavorful and tender enough to be a versatile everyday ingredient.
As with any other piece of steak, one of the best ways to prepare steak tips is by broiling them. Larger pieces can be seared whole, like a small version of a conventional steak, and then combined to make normal-sized portions. Smaller pieces are ideal for skewering, either in traditional kabob-style cubes or cut into thin, flat, satay-style strips. Brining or marinating the meat, or coating it with a dry spice rub before grilling, will enhance the flavor. Steak tips are typically not taken from the tenderest part of the sirloin, so they're best when cut small. If you grill them whole, thin-slice them for serving.
Pan-Sear or Saute Them
When grilling isn't a practical option, pan-searing your steak tips in a heavy skillet at high heat is the next best thing. Prepare your beef the same way, and cook it in small batches so it can brown nicely without drowning in its own juices. Alternatively, cut the tips into uniform pieces and saute them with onions, mushrooms and other flavorful and aromatic vegetables. Finish them with a quick homemade sauce, if you wish, and then serve them over or alongside your favorite side dishes.
Stir-frying your steak tips is very similar to sauteing, but with a more exacting technique. The pieces should be cut across the grain into thin strips, which will cook quickly in the intense heat at the bottom of the wok. Add the beef a few strips at a time, so it sears and browns in just a few seconds; then slide those pieces to a cooler spot up the side of your wok and add more. Once the beef is cooked, add the vegetables to your wok in small handfuls and cook them in the same manner. Once the vegetables are crisp-tender and the beef is cooked, mix them and add your choice of sauce.
Make Quick Stew or Chili
Stew beef is usually tougher than steak tips, and it takes long, slow cooking to tenderize. This means you can use steak tips to prepare fast-cooking versions of stews, chili or other slow-cooking meals. Cut the beef into bite-sized pieces, and brown it in your Dutch oven to deepen its flavor. Then add your vegetables, seasonings and broth, and bring the whole dish to a gentle simmer. As soon as the vegetables are cooked, the meal is ready to serve.
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