To know the porterhouse is to know the T-bone and to know it well. And by “well,” I mean “gigantically.” For only the largest of T-bones are known as porterhouses: they must contain a significant portion of the tenderloin, or the smaller side of the short loin (the larger side being the strip loin). The “T” shape of the bone comes from the vertical cut down into the spine of the cow, with two bones going to the sides and one going down. Imagine the tenderloin being a little tunnel of deliciousness running along the length of the back half of the cow’s spine. So, for instance, if you were to get a T-bone from further up the cow (towards the head), with very little tenderloin, you could not call it a porterhouse. And the last 1/4 of the loin is the sirloin, less tender because it contains harder working muscles.
Are you confused? Then let me me clear things up for you: the porterhouse effing brings the flavor train right into your face’s station. You can grill or broil these suckers fast, and since they’re free of collagen they’re very tender, requiring less time on the grill. That means: RED meat. Caps-lock necessary.
Why is it called the porterhouse? Various theories abound, about a restaurant in NYC or some 19th century bearded douche named Porter. I say it’s because “beefmansion” sounded a bit uncouth for the olden times. If I ever have a restaurant, we’re definitely calling the big T-bones “Beefmansions.” Or possibly “Villa de Beouf.”
The most famous way to serve a T-Bone is the bistecca alla fiorentina of Tuscany, where the cut is so large it’s typically shared between two people after being grilled with sparse seasoning and olive oil over a wood grill. Hell, add some Roquefort or Bernaise. Because if you put anything less classic on one of these, like some sort of mushroom gravy or whatever, it will leap up from the table and wrestle you to the floor, leaving you greasy and hungry like you deserve to be.
If you put something lame on your porterhouse like cherry tomatoes, the steak MAY KILL YOU. But don’t forget the onion rings.