The loin falls between the rib and round primal cuts and accounts for 16% of the beef carcass. It is typically divided into two halves, the back half is called the sirloin. The stub end of the tenderloin sir removed and the sirloin is divided into two pieces, the top and the bottom sirloin butt.
The top sirloin butt is very large, and can be portioned into cuts of numerous shapes and sizes. It generally consists of two large muscles. The first is called the "cap", and the second is called the "center". Since these two muscles have opposing grains, they are commonly separated. All top sirloin roasts and steaks are moderately tender, but those cut from the short loin end will be slightly more tender and juicier.
Although still considered moderately tender, the bottom sirloin is tougher than the top sirloin, but has good beef flavor. Because they are so lean, bottom sirloin roasts and steaks cook quickly and can dry out easily. Marinating helps to retain water and is broadly recommended with bottom sirloin cuts.
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Ball Tip Roast and Steak
Roast–Braise/Roast; Steaks–Broil/Grill/Pan Fry
Roasts–Crescent Roast, Face Round Roast, Full-trimmed Tip Roast, Tip Sirloin Roast; Steaks–Ball Tip Steak, Breakfast Steak, Round Tip Steak, Sirloin Tip Steak, Trimmed Tip Steak
The sirloin tip or knuckle is a ball-shaped group of muscles that sits between the loin and the bottom. When the two primal cuts are separated, about 4 inches (10 cm) of the sirloin tip are included with the bottom sirloin and is marketed as the “ball tip”. The roast generally weighs between 1½ and 3 pounds (.68–1.4 kg), or it can be portioned into 1 inch thick (2.5 cm) steaks by slicing at a right angles to the grain. Steaks can be further cut into strips or cubed into “sirloin tips”. The ball tip be cooked to medium rare, as it has a tendency to dry out. Marinating will help with this issue.
Bottom Sirloin Flap
Babette Steaks, Bottom Sirloin Butt, Bottom Sirloin Flap, Flap, Flap Meat
Once reserved for ground beef or stew, this grainy, striated cut is similar to skirt steak and flank (it is actually an extension of the flank) but is tougher. If prepared correctly, it is a good choice for fajitas. It generally weighs between 1 and 3 pounds (.5-1.4 kg) depending on how it has been trimmed. Best grilled after using a tenderizing marinade. Like flank, it should be sliced thinly across the grain before serving. Avoid over cooking.
Top Sirloin Cap
Roast–Roast/Braise; Steak–Grill/Pan Fry
Beef Loin Boneless, Beef Loin Roast Boneless; Culotte, or Coulotte Steak, Sirloin Cap
Sometimes called the coulotte, the top sirloin cap has no connective tissue and is grainier and has greater marbling than top sirloin center cuts. The full cap roast weighs just under 4 pounds (1.75 kg). It can be roasted whole or sliced across the grain into steaks that are well suited for grilling. It also works well as kabobs and in stir fry. A popular cut in Argentine steakhouses, it is moderately tender.
Top Sirloin Petite Roast and Filet
Roasts–Roast; Filets–Broil/Grill/Pan Fry
The large top sirloin center roast can also be cut lengthwise into two or three petite roast of 2 to 4 pounds (~1-2 kg). This is a good economical option when the full center roast is too much. The petite roast can also be sliced into 1½-thick (4 cm) petite filets, about 6-8 ounces each (170-227 g). These filets, while no where near as tender as the real thing, have great flavor, are great for grilling, and take well to marinades and rubs. Both the petite roast and filets are considered lean cuts and are moderately tender.
Top Sirloin Steak
Butt Steak, Sirloin Butt Steak, Top Sirloin Butt Steak, Top Sirloin Steak
Top sirloin steak can take on many forms and have many names depending on how it is portioned. If the cap and the center cut muscles are left in tact when the steaks are cut, they will have a small flap that wraps around part of the steak and has an opposing grain. More commonly, the cap will have been removed the steak marketed as “center cut” or “cap off”, it usually means the cap muscle was removed before the steaks were cut. The center cut steak may be left whole or cut in half or in thirds. Regardless of how they are cut, all top sirloin steaks will have great beef flavor and are economical, perfect for family meals. These cuts are considered lean and moderately tender. Well suited for marinating and grilling but also a good choice of kabobs and stir fry. Top sirloin steaks are generally cut between ¾ and 1¼ inches (2-3 cm) thick.
Tri-Tip Roast & Steak
Bottom Sirloin Roast, Triangle Roast or Steak, Santa Maria Steak
This is a lean and tender, yet economical, cut of beef taken from the bottom sirloin. Made famous in California, where it is more commonly found. It has enormous beef flavor, and is very economical. The full roast generally weighs between 3 and 5 pounds (900 g) and may come trimmed or with a ¼ inch (about .5 cm) fat cap. It can be roasted in the oven or in a covered grill. Steaks should be cut across the grain about ¾ to 1 inch (2-2.5cm) thick. Also a good choice for stir fry. It marries well with dry rubs and marinades.