One of the most tender cuts of beef, the Kansas City strip steak, is also prized for its rich taste. A dispute has long raged over the name because the cut also is sometimes called the “New York strip” steak. This steak tastes best when it’s cooked over hot, dry heat.
A Kansas City strip steak is a tender cut of beef from the short loin, which is the middle section of a steer’s rib cage. The Kansas City steak is on one side of a long, T-shaped bone; the steak on the opposite side is a tenderloin steak. Given its quality and the fact there aren’t too many such steaks on a steer, the Kansas City strip can command a hefty price, usually only slightly lower than tenderloin or rib eye steaks.
The Kansas City strip steak also is called a “shell steak," a “club steak," a “New York strip" or the “Delmonico” after the famous 19th-century restaurant in New York.
The question of whether New York or Kansas City rightly can call this cut of beef its own has been debated and disputed for years. Apparently, the steak wasn’t served as a “Kansas City strip” until the 1930s, well after Delmonico’s had established it as one of its premier offerings. Recently, the National Agri Marketing Association (NAMA) weighed in on the subject, declaring Kansas City the winner. “We realize New York is a much more cosmopolitan name but question how cattle and great steaks could ever find their origins in Central Park,” an NAMA representative remarked.
Regardless of what you call it, this steak is one of the most tender and flavorful cuts of beef. It is slightly less tender than tenderloin or rib eye steaks, but the texture isn’t as soft, which some people prefer. In addition to being reasonably well-marbled, it usually has a small outer rim of fat, which offers a pleasing contrast to the hot tender meat.
Like all good cuts of beef, Kansas City strip steaks respond well to high, dry heat. You can grill them very effectively on a charcoal or gas grill, or you can pan fry them in a cast-iron skillet with results that are just as good, though minus the smoky overtones. Kansas City strips have a relatively high fat content, so if you must, you can cook them past the medium-rare stage without them becoming tough and inedible. A good Kansas City strip is the perfect steak for a big outdoor barbecue with friends, but if you’re looking to impress somebody special, you can also gussy it up with béarnaise sauce, and serve it with asparagus tips and a good bottle of red wine.