McKenzies Recommenzies: Steak 101!

Grilling season is here ya’ll!!! Before working at an upscale meat distributor for two years, I was clueless as to the different types of beef, grades, and how to cook it properly (medium rare always to achieve maximum flavor). But now I’m a meat machine and cooking (and eating) steaks are a summertime must!

So check out my handy tips for buying and cooking beef! Perhaps you need a quick refresher or maybe you need all the help you can get!?

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First…some suggestions on how to make your next steak meal the best ever…

1) Choose the right cut of meat (more on that later)

2) Choose the right quality of meat (again more on that later)

3) Season early (give the salt a chance to permeate the meat and not just end up on the pan or grill if you season right before)

4) Take your steaks out of the fridge early (steaks at room temp season better and cook faster)

5) Don’t touch it! (leave your steak alone and let it go….find out how long it takes to cook and stick to that- only flip once and make a quarter turn once on each side)! The more you touch the steak, the better chance you have of messing it up!

6) Re-create a restaurant quality presentation! Create cross-hatch marks if you can (when you use a grill) by setting it at a 45 degree angle and giving it a quarter turn once on each side!

7) Keep it Simple! Don’t mask the great meat flavor with a whole bunch of marinades, rubs, and sauces. Unless it’s of lesser quality… let the steak be and enjoy the rich flavor of a great steak!

8) ENJOY!

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How to Buy:

*Beef Grading

Prime: has the highest level of marbling and is mostly found at high-end steakhouses and specialty stores (only 2-3 % of beef is awarded this prestigious grade)

Choice: less marbling than prime but is still high-quality and juicy- widely available

Select: little marbling and is somewhat tougher and less tasty than choice- its pretty cheap and widely available

*Steak Labels: Decoded!

Natural/All-Natural: doesn’t contain artificial flavorings, colors or preservatives but doesn’t guarantee that animals haven’t been given hormones or antibiotics

USDA Organic: everything the cow consumed was 100% organic and it was given access to pasture

Pasture-Raised: it should mean that the animal roamed and grazed freely but it probably means that they did very little of that. there is no time requirement for this certification, so they could have been out there for a day, few weeks or a few months. hopefully its the former but double-check with your butcher to make sure

Grass-Fed: animals are fed only pasture grasses and hay but unless it has the “USDA Process Verified” or “American Grassfed” designation that claim cannot be guaranteed

Animal-Welfare-Approved: this is an independent nonprofit org seal of approval that indicates animal was raised outdoors and farmer followed rigorous standards

Steak

Steak (Photo credit: tarale)

How to Cook:

To Grill: heat grill to medium high, oil the grate to prevent sticking (and swipe with paper towels to remove excess), and grill steak to desired doneness! 

To Sear: heat 1 tsp oil in large skillet over medium high heat and cook to desired doneness

To Broil: heat broiler to high and broil steak to desired doneness

After All: let your steak rest on cutting board, loosely tented with foil, for 5 minutes before slicing- this allows meat fibers to relax and re-distribute juices for maximum flavor!

*Best Cuts for Pan Searing:

  • Sirloin Steak (aka top butt, butt steak, top sirloin butt, top sirloin steak, center-cut roast) – just like butter with a tremendous beef flavor
  • Flap Meat Steak (aka top sirloin tips, beef sirloin tips, sirloin tip steak) – tender and fun to chew

*Best Cuts for Grilling:

  • Flank Steak (aka London Broil)- pleasant mild flavor
  • Skirt Steak (aka Fajita Meat) – rich and fatty

*Special Butcher Cuts to Seek Out:

  • Hanger Steak (aka hanging tenderloin or butchers steak) – bold, brash beef flavor
  • Flat Iron Steak (aka blade steak) – great beef flavor, tender and chewy

Now get to cooking!

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