Steak lovers have long debated the question of which cut of beef is the best steak. While most steak lovers enjoy a tender ribeye steak, there is no shortage of beef eaters who love a t-bone steak or a porterhouse steak.
Steak restaurants prize porterhouse steaks because it’s a cut of beef that they can make a lot of money on. And their happy customers love a porterhouse steak, too, because it’s a great option for two people to dine.
Why is the porterhouse steak so popular? Let’s dive in and learn why porterhouse steak is special.
1. It’s like getting two steaks in one.
Don’t worry if you and your dining partner have trouble deciding if you want a New York strip steak or a filet mignon. With a porterhouse steak, you get both.
That’s right, a porterhouse includes both the filet and the strip steak, with the bone separating the two. The filet mignon is sometimes called the tenderloin. The strip portion comes from the top loin of the cow.
But wait, doesn’t a T-bone steak also give you a strip and a filet mignon? Yes, it does, but that doesn’t mean that a t-bone is a porterhouse steak. Keep reading for more details about that.
2. Every porterhouse steak is a T-bone, but not all T-bone steaks are porterhouses.
In some ways, a porterhouse steak looks exactly like the t-bone steak we are all accustomed to seeing. After all, the porterhouse has the distinctive t-shaped bone that runs down between the strip and filet portions of meat.
Perhaps most importantly, a t-bone steak and a porterhouse steak come from the same part of the cow. These cuts of beef are located beneath the animal’s backbone, and the porterhouse steak comes from the top loin, which connects with the cow’s tenderloin.
So what’s the difference between a porterhouse steak and a t-bone steak? It’s all about the thickness.
3. Porterhouse steaks are super thick.
A porterhouse steak is very thick. By definition, this steak should be at least 1.25 inches from the bone on the interior to the steak’s widest edge.
And it’s not unusual to see a porterhouse steak that’s two inches thick or more. Because these steaks are thicker, it’s perfect for sharing with two people.
4. The USDA regulates what can be called a porterhouse steak.
Since both the porterhouse steak and the t-bone steak come from the same part of the cow, what’s to keep steakhouses or butchers from calling a plain old t-bone steak a porterhouse? The United States Department of Agriculture, that’s what.
That’s right, the USDA regulates the term “porterhouse,” and legally, you can’t sell a t-bone steak and call it a porterhouse steak.
Also, butchers can’t skimp on the thickness since the USDA specifies that a porterhouse steak has to be minimally 1.25 inches thick from the edge to the bone.
5. Porterhouse steaks are supposed to feed two people.
We have already clarified that a porterhouse steak is a huge chunk of meat. In most cases, people who order a porterhouse are splitting the steak between two people.
Of course, if you think you can handle a porterhouse steak by yourself, go for it. You can always take home leftovers for the next day.
6. The porterhouse steak has a lot of the tenderloin filet.
We’ve gone over the fact that every porterhouse steak is a t-bone, but a t-bone steak isn’t necessarily a porterhouse. Besides the porterhouse being much thicker, you’re also getting a bigger chunk of tenderloin (filet mignon) than you get with a t-bone.
The filet mignon portion of a porterhouse is larger because of how the meat is cut. Specifically, a t-bone steak is cut from the short loin’s front end, while a porterhouse steak is cut from the short loin’s rear end.
7. The best way to cook a porterhouse steak is in a cast iron skillet.
We love occasionally searing a steak in a heavy cast iron skillet on the stove-top. It’s the fastest way to cook a steak, and the porterhouse steak is one that is well-suited for cooking this way.
To cook a porterhouse steak on the stovetop, heat your skillet to 145 degrees Fahrenheit for about two minutes on both sides. Then, transfer your steak to the oven and bake at 120 degrees Fahrenheit to the desired doneness.
8. Porterhouse steaks started to appear on New York City restaurant menus in the 1840s.
While it may seem that we are just hearing about porterhouse steaks in recent years, the fact is that these thick steaks started popping up on restaurant menus in New York City in the 1840s.
This makes a lot of sense because in 1754, chophouses and restaurants were called Porterhouses. It’s unclear whether or not these Porterhouses actually served the famous steak cut that bears the same name.
The first documented use of the term was in 1842 when Cornelius Mathews wrote “I’ll take a small porter-house steak without the bone” in his writing of “The Career of Puffer Hopkins.”
At one time, there was a hotel called Porter House in Flowery Branch, Georgia in the 1800s.
Meanwhile, as for now, the debate continues about which city or establishment can correctly claim the naming of the porterhouse steak.
9. There was actually a Mr. Porter who may have given the steak its name.
In the late 1800s, a man named Zacharia B. Porter owned the Porter’s restaurant and hotel located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Many food historians believe that the porterhouse steak was possibly named after Mr. Porter.
10. One legend credits Charles Dickens with naming the porterhouse steak.
One final bit of lore bears mentioning. Many food historians credit the author Charles Dickens for naming the porterhouse steak. It seems that Mr. Dickens visited the Porter House in Sandusky, Ohio in 1842. While there, the author had what was essentially a porterhouse steak.
Then, Dickens traveled to Buffalo, New York and stayed at a hotel, where he asked the owner for a steak like the one he had in Sandusky’s Porter House.
11. The Oxford English Dictionary carries the “official” story of how the porterhouse steak got its name.
The most prominent theory suggests that the porterhouse steak was created by a man named Martin Morrison in 1814. Morrison owned a Pearl Street, Manhattan restaurant called Porter House and he began serving huge t-bone steaks.
In the Oxford English Dictionary, Morrison is given credit for naming the porterhouse steak. However, the editors note that there is a lack of contemporary evidence to support or contradict this claim.
12. Porterhouse steaks are loaded with nutrition.
Beef is rich in several different nutrients, including all of these:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12
The average serving of a porterhouse steak has about 24 grams of protein and just 180 calories.
FAQs about Porterhouse Steak
Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about what makes a porterhouse steak special.
Why is porterhouse steak expensive?
Porterhouse steak is expensive because you get more meat, but most importantly, you get a bigger chunk of tenderloin.
A porterhouse steak will set you back about 17% more per ounce than a t-bone steak. Porterhouse steaks cost more per pound than other cuts because you get a larger piece of the filet mignon (the tenderloin).
Is porterhouse steak better than ribeye?
Most steak aficionados and food experts rank the ribeye steak as more flavorful than the porterhouse steak. The reason for this is that ribeye steaks have more marbling. A ribeye is practically covered in marbling, so the juices are imbued all throughout the steak.
Is porterhouse better than t-bone?
Technically, a porterhouse steak and a t-bone steak are cut from the same section of the cow. However, because the porterhouse steak is cut from the rear end of the short loin, you get a larger portion of filet mignon or tenderloin.
If you like filet mignon, you’ll enjoy the porterhouse more than the t-bone.
What steak cut is most expensive?
Kobe (Wagyu) cows are make the world’s most valued steaks – of any cut. But beyond Kobe beef, here are the most expensive steaks you can buy.
Ribeye steak: $15-$20 per pound
Tenderloin (filet mignon): $30-$100 per pound
Porterhouse steak: $20-$25 per pound
T-bone steak: $10-$20 per pound
Can porterhouse steak be slow cooked?
The slow cooker is an excellent way to cook tougher and less expensive cuts of beef. While you can slow cook a porterhouse steak, it’s not the best use for this expensive cut of beef.
A porterhouse steak will turn out deliciously tender in the slow cooker, but to fully enjoy the flavor of this steak, we recommend cooking it in a cast-iron skillet, broiler, or on a grill.
Can you use porterhouse steak in a stew?
You can use porterhouse steak to make stew. However, this is an expensive cut of beef, and we recommend using less expensive cuts of beef to make stew.