Teres Major, Outstanding and Cheap? I know, I know. First you’re wondering what the heck is a teres major and why do you care if it is outstanding or cheap. What if I told you it also goes by petite tender? Petite shoulder tender? Shoulder tender? Doesn’t help. OK then. It’s steak. Tender, delicious, amazing, stupendous steak. Does that help? I was as clueless as you are when I first saw one. I asked what it was too.
One of the meat cutters told me that I’ve probably already had it and never knew. He said local restaurants serve teres major all the time as steak modiga or as medallions.
I decided to do a little more digging. According to Grasslandbeef.com:
“The teres major is a seldom used muscle in the shoulder that is second only to the tenderloin filet in tenderness. This muscle requires skilled craftsman to extract, but yields a wonderful dining experience and is a new leader in trendy white table cloth restaurants.
The teres major steak is also referred to as a shoulder tender. If sliced into medallions, they are appropriately named petite tender medallions.”
It is very similar to beef tenderloin (or filet mignon) in that it is also lean and uber tender, but not quite as lean as filet or tenderloin and thus it has better flavor and is generally about a full third cheaper. There’s a reason filets are wrapped in bacon. The bacon gives the filet flavor it just doesn’t have due to a lack of fat. While the petite tender is not quite as tender as the filet, it has more fat and thus is tastier. And when I say not quite as tender, I’m not saying it’s tough. It’s just about the most tender steak on the cow not named tenderloin.
Don’t bother looking for a huge petite tender or teres major . They generally don’t come larger than about 12 ounces. This is a fairly large one at about 14 ounces.
There is something fascinating about the teres major that I can’t explain. It gets thicker as it cooks. I’m not kidding. When I pull this steak from the grill it will be thicker than when I put it on. Don’t believe me? Fine. I’ll prove it to you with my tape measure. Here’s how thick the steak is:
And here’s the length:
Please no meat measuring jokes here. This is a family friendly site.
To season the teres major, all I do is remove it from the packaging, pat it dry with a paper towel and then hit it with some coarse salt to start:
Other than the salt, I’m going to keep it simple and dust it with a BBQ rub from Code 3 Spices:
The Code 3 Spices line of rubs is great from top to bottom and it gets even better in that 50 cents from ever bottle sold goes to charities supporting first responders and military personnel. I like to say they are fantastic rubs and a better cause.
I love this stuff, so I gave my steak a liberal coating of the 5-0 rub:
Now off to the grill. For this steak, I want to sear it hot and fast. In doing so, I use my infrared gas grill because it flat out makes a mean steak. Infrared grills produce juicier meat than regular gas grills. That’s a scientific fact:
Wait till the grill is lava hot and then throw that teres major (petite tender) steak on:
I had this grill at close to 700 degrees, so all it took was about 2-3 minutes before I rotated the steak 45 degrees. I did not flip it over yet. I rotated it to get some nice grill marks. After a second 2-3 minute stretch, I flipped the steak over to repeat on the other side:
This steak does not make for the greatest cross hatch grill marks. As it puffs up (I’ll show you that in a minute) it goes from flat to round. It will never have the beautiful marks of a NY strip or rib eye. But it still has a fantastic flavor crust going here, if I do say so myself.
Once the teres major (petite tender) has been seared on each side, move the steak to the side of the grill with no heat and close the lid to bake until the desired doneness. For me it was done after the searing, but I like my steak with a faint pulse. I’m OK if my steak is only in a coma. If you like your steak more well done than that, don’t cut into it to find out if it is grilled properly. Use the thumb test to determine the doneness of the steak.
Now it’s time to prove that the teres major (petite tender) steak indeed gets thicker as it grills. Here’s the steak right after it came off the grill:
It is now an 1.75 inches thick. A quarter inch does not seem like a lot, but it was only 1.25 inches before. That’s a full half inch thicker or a difference of about 40%. Alas, it also gets shorter:
Now that the teres major (petite tender) steak is off the grill, it is vital to let it rest so the juices, in an excited state due to the heat, can calm down and redistribute throughout the meat. A steak this size only needs 3-4 minutes rest:
But how does it look sliced?
Truth be told, I redid this post because the original pictures I took sucked. Originally I made this steak with some Andria’s Steak Sauce brushed on while I grilled it. The problem was the lighting was terrible and it was a few years before I figured out how to compensate for that. The inside pictures weren’t so bad. Here’s a plated shot of a steak I made around Christmas in 2011 when I did this post originally:
And here’s the sliced teres major (petite tender):
If that picture above doesn’t send you out to your local butcher to get a teres major, how about this one:
This steak has been rising in price since I wrote the original one, but still the best way to feed a crowd steaks without breaking the bank and I do so often. During football season in 2012 I grilled these steaks on Sunday night, and then on Monday night, when I had the guys over for Monday Night Football and some home tailgating, I made two more to serve as appetizers:
One I did with the Andria’s Steak Sauce and the other I brushed with a jerk paste to spice things up. Both were well received:
These guys thought it was great:
I can’t put into words how delicious and tender the teres major (petite tender) is. It blows me away every time I grill and eat one. If you are going the paleo route and the prices of steak is wrecking your bank account, this might be the key to a successful paleo diet strategy.
All of this begs the very obvious question. Where do you find teres major (petite tender) steak? Your grocer might carry them in vacuum packed packaging from time to time. Otherwise, you need to go to your meat cutter. You should be going there anyway. You’ll thank me later.
If you have any questions about this cut or this grilling recipe, feel free to leave them below or shoot me an email.
- 1 Teres major steak
- Coarse salt
- Code 3 Spices BBQ rub
- Coat the steak with coarse salt and the rub
- Prepare the grill for two zone grilling with super high heat on one side and none on the other
- Sear the steak on the side with high heat for 2-3 minutes and then rotate 45 degrees and sear another 2-3 minutes
- Flip over and repeat on the other side
- Move the steak to the other side of the grill with no heat and close the lid until it is baked to the desired doneness
- Remove the teres major (petite tender) steak from the grill and allow to rest 3-4 minutes