Acclimate for a Good Steak

IMG_1867Steaks: Grain vs. Grass Fed

Some believe throwing a steak on a grill, searing it and then immediately eating it will make for a good meal, I disagree.  Because steak is one of the items I will pay a little extra, for good quality, I take particular steps to ensure I am getting the best flavor, juiciness and tenderness for my money.  I will spend more for grain fed meat, when I can find it.

Grain-fed Beef

  • Pasture-raised, grazes on grass
  • Later, fed hearty, rich-in-nutrients grain
  • The most flavorful and highest quality beef available, with superior marbling and texture
  • Top chefs agree, grain-fed beef tastes better and is the preferred choice of steak-lovers everywhere

Chart courtesy of Omaha Steaks

Grass-fed Beef

  • Pasture-raised, grazes on grass
  • May or may not be certified “organic,” depending on the use of fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides where they grazed
  • Conflicting scientific studies suggest grass-fed may or may not be healthier
  • Has been known to be firmer and not as rich in flavor due to the lack of marbling

steak cuts.Choose the right cut

Not all cuts of beef are the same.  You will need to decide which cut is your favorite.

Tenderloin – Known to be tender. Found on the back of the cow, has very little marbling (fat). Expensive compared to other cuts. Also known as the filet-Mignon.

Ribeye – Usually has the most marbling than other cuts.  Found under the ribs, on the upper back of the cow.  Known to be a very juicy, if cooked properly.

New York Strip – Is usually a larger cut of steak because it is cut from the short loin of the cow, lower back.  Usually has very little fat content, can be tender but not as tender as the tenderloin.

T-Bone or Porterhouse – cut from the rear end of the short loin and thus include more tenderloin steak, along with (on the other side of the bone) a large strip steak.

Acclimate your steak

Opinions vary about whether or not to bring your steak to room temperature before cooking – I ALWAYS sit out a thawed steak on the counter approximately 20-30 minutes before cooking. You are doing this NOT to increase the internal temperature of the steak, but are doing it, so the surface of the steak becomes dry.  Sprinkle salt on both sides of your steak when you sit it out to acclimate.  The salt draws out liquid and then the liquid will be reabsorb, leaving a dry surface.  Once on grill, the dry surface will brown and cause the interior to become more juicy.

Dry-aged steaks are so popular because a dry skin is forming on the steak, allowing it to brown in record time upon searing.  The drier the meat is to start, the more moist it will be at the end.

Flavor with a rub?

There are many options on the market for “seasoning” a steak.  Honestly, the best seasoning is salt and pepper.  Using Kosher salt is the best option. The coarse crystals will really grab onto the meat.

Once the grill is hot, dip a small portion of paper towel in some good olive oil, then rub on the grill surface using some tongs.  Not only will this help prevent the steak from sticking to the grill grate, but also will provide some flavor to the meat as well.  Also, you may want to brush some melted butter onto the steak’s surface before searing.  Just do not apply oil or butter to heavy, as it could start a fire in the grill.

Time to Grill

The key to a perfect steak is cooking it at a high temperature for a short amount of time. The colder the steak is when it hits the grill, the longer it will take to cook it. And the more time it spends over the heat, the tougher it gets.
Click the image to buy your own Thermopen.

Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the steak.  This will ensure a properly cooked steak, instead of relying on the poking or prodding method.  I disagree with some that say, to only flip your steak once during cooking.  In my experience, flipping the steak several times allows for a more evenly cooked steak and a better crust.  However, I never mash the steak or cause the delicious juices to seep out of the meat.

Good rule of temperature is:

Rare 120 to 125 degrees F
49 to 51 degrees C
center is bright red, pinkish toward the exterior portion, and warm throughout
Medium Rare 130 to 135 degrees F
55 to 57 degrees C
center is very pink, slightly brown toward the exterior portion, and slightly hot
Medium 140 to 145 degrees F
60 to 63 degrees C
center is light pink, outer portion is brown, and hot throughout
Medium Well 150 to 155 degrees F
65 to 69 degrees C
mostly gray-brown throughout with a hint of pink in the center
Well Done 160 degrees F and above
71 degrees C
uniformly brown or grey throughout

Do you have a great steak procedure?  Share in the comments….

 

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