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Beef Top Sirloin at a Glance
Primal: top sirloin is part of the "sirloin" primal cut
Meat Buyer’s Guide variations: 184, 184A, 184B, 184C, 184D, 184E
Weight Ranges: 1 lb -14 up, see the Fresh Beef IMPS page for specifics
Best Cooking Methods: roasting, grilling, broiling
Ryan Adams has done an excellent series on different cuts of beef and has given permission to re-post his content here, with minor modifications for the Professional Chef audience.
Cuts of Beef Series: Top Sirloin
There are two varieties of sirloin steak available, both from the sirloin primal, which is sandwiched between the short loin primal (behind the ribs) and round primal (the rump). Think mid-back area. The steak that Alton gushed over comes from the top sirloin, a section of meat found under the tenderloin. The bottom sirloin is right under the top sirloin, and is a much tougher cut of meat with little in the way of fat. Most butchers like to use the bottom sirloin for ground meat, or cut it into chunks for stewing or braising.
The bottom sirloin is not a bad piece of meat by anyone's standards, but you won't ever find me picking it over the top sirloin. This part of the cow can be quite large, so various kinds of steak can be cut from it. Other labels for top sirloin are top butt steak, center cut sirloin, or hip sirloin steak. The meat itself is intensely flavorful, with a deep beefy taste. The muscle is tender, but not quite as tender as cuts like filet mignon or prime rib. You can cut nice thick steaks out of the top sirloin, or cube it for kabobs. It also lends itself well to soups, sandwiches and some ethnic dishes. Rubs work excellently with sirloin steaks, as do marinades.
Top Sirloin Variations
Top Sirloin is listed in the Meat Buyer's Guide with the following variations: 184, 184A, 184B, 184C, 184D, and 184E.
Top Sirloin Butt, Boneless NAMP/IMPS 184
This is the whole top sirloin butt, free from bones, cartilage, tenderloin, and the sacrosciatic ligament.
Photograph: NAMP Meat Buyer's Guide
Top Sirloin Butt Steak, Boneless
These boneless cuts show how steaks can be prepared from any part of the top sirloin. It's best to cut steaks that are reasonably parallel to the backbone line to accommodate the cutting of specified portion-sized steaks.
Top Sirloin Butt Steak, Center Cut
These steaks are very similar to the ones above, but are only cut from the gluteus medius muscle.
What to look for when buying
If you want tender, go with smaller sirloin steaks. The larger ones have been cut closer to the rump, and they can be a good deal tougher. Meat cut closer to other side (the short loin end) will be tastier with better texture. There is a bone between the upper part of the loin and the tail end where lots of tendons connect, so try to skip that first slice between porterhouse and sirloin steaks. Also stay away from cuts labeled, "tri-tip," "ball-tip," or "butt," unless it's top butt.
Fabrication Of Top Sirloin
The PDF below shows how to break-down a Top Sirloin from NAMP 184. Click on the image to download it.
In this video Donald Russell's Head Butcher Mark describes the preparation of the 'Big Four' beef steaks - Fillet steak, Sirloin steak, Ribeye steak and Rump steak. In this video the Rump portion contains the Top Sirloin. Fabrication of the Top Sirloin starts at 4:40.
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