Selecting the right cut of beef can mean the difference between a tough main course or a tender result. When properly prepared, sirloin tip and top sirloin have similar results, despite the many differences between them. Though both have sirloin in the name, the cuts are from different areas of the cattle and have many defining characteristics.
The top sirloin is located at the top of the sirloin section, adjacent to the tough round section. Sirloin tip steaks are located from the continuation of the sirloin muscle in the round part of the cow, which is the back end of the animal. This section branches into three parts: the tip center, tip side and tip bottom muscles.
The boneless sirloin tip is a lean and tougher cut of beef, but as it is close to the sirloin section, it is one of the better quality steaks available from the round. The meat is low in fat, which is great for dieters, but difficult to prepare. The boneless top sirloin is moderately tender but can be difficult to buy as some steaks are flavorful and tender, and others are not. This depends on how it was cut and its proximity to the round section.
Top sirloin is available in steak and roast cuts. It is lightly marbled, with an outer layer of fat. It shouldn't be mistaken for a regular sirloin steak, which has a bone. Sirloin tip can be found in sirloin tip side, center and bottom steaks, which are less marbled than the top sirloin. The steaks are available in 3/4-inch to 1-inch thickness. The sirloin tip roast is the combination of all three cuts left whole.
Sirloin tip steaks should be marinated for two to four hours before use. Cook steaks only to medium rare to avoid toughness, and do not pierce the steaks to turn during cooking, which can cause loss of natural juices. Sirloin tip roasts also should be only cooked to medium rare and should not be cooked covered. Cook the roast to 5 degrees lower than the desired temperature, cover with foil and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes. A rub should be used to give the roast flavor.
Top sirloin steaks should only be cooked to medium rare as well. The steaks have great versatility; they can be grilled, broiled, sauteed. Marinades can be used to improve quality. Top sirloin roasts are ideal for barbecues.