Porterhouse steak is a popular cut of beef that includes portions of both the short loin and tenderloin areas of the cow. This cut is a fairly large serving of beef and often is served to diners with heartier appetites or split between two people. The porterhouse is similar to a T-bone steak but has a larger area of tenderloin. When selecting a porterhouse steak, it is important to look for cuts that have a good amount of marbling and are the right thickness. Deciding between dry-aged and wet-aged beef also may be part of the decision-making process.
Buyers can find porterhouse steak at the meat counter of the grocery store or at a local butcher shop. It also is available from several online specialty stores that freeze the steak and pack it in with dry ice to keep it from spoiling during shipping. The high cost of this type of beef may encourage some consumers to order this steak from a butcher, a move that will allow buyers to select the exact size and thickness they need.
Some stores sell a choice of dry- or wet-aged porterhouse steak to customers. The dry-aging process involves placing the steak in a refrigerated area for up to a month, allowing the flavor to develop and the meat to become more tender. Wet aging is a faster process in which porterhouse steak is placed in a vacuum-sealed bag for a few days. Buyers also can choose to purchase a fresh porterhouse cut and age it themselves at home.
For this type of steak, customers in the United States should look for steaks that have been graded "prime" by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). While this grade can be hard to find in some locations, it typically defines the most tender and flavorful cuts of beef available in the U.S. The steak should have multiple white streaks of fat woven through the grain of the beef. This fat is known as marbling and gives the steak much of its flavor. One disadvantage of buying from online sources is that buyers will not be able to inspect this marbling before purchase.
The large size and cost of a porterhouse steak can make it important to buy just the right size and thickness. While smaller steaks can feed one person, larger steaks may be shared between two or more diners. The largest and thickest cuts of porterhouse require a larger grill and additional cooking time, so buyers should consider this when purchasing steaks.