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What matters most when choosing a steak?

Sunday, May 22nd

What Matters Most When Choosing a Steak?

Few things can delight your tastebuds as well as a flavorful steak can. Whether you are ordering a meal at your favorite steakhouse or you are preparing to grill a steak at home, one thing is certain. The steak that you choose will directly impact your dining experience. What should you look for when you are choosing your next steak?

The Thickness of the Meat

One of the most important initial factors to consider when you are making a selection is the thickness of the meat. The thickness can impact the proper cooking method and how long you should cook it. Thinner meat may seem like it would be easier to cook, but this is actually not the case. When a steak is overcooked, it becomes tough and dry. It also may seem less flavorful. There is a fine line between cooking a steak to perfection and overcooking it. For thinner cuts of meat, this fine line becomes narrower. Even keeping a thick steak on the grill for an extra 30 seconds can make a huge difference between a perfect steak and an overcooked steak. Thicker cuts of meat are more forgiving in this important area. Cooking a steak is a fine art. If you are still trying to get your timing down, choosing a thicker cut of meat may be a smart move. Regardless of your skill level, the ideal thickness for a great steak is at least one inch.

The Meat's Marbling

Marbling refers to the whitish lines that run through a red slab of raw meat. These lines are comprised of fat. You may initially think that you should find the leanest piece of meat that you can. After all, most people do not prefer to eat a mouthful of animal fat. However, marbling is actually a good thing. As your steak cooks, these lines of fat in the meat become reduced or rendered. Through this process, the fat actually creates a juicy, flavorful steak. Beef without marbling often results in a drier and less flavorful steak.

However, too much fat can be a bad thing. Ideally, there will be many thin lines of marbling. Thick areas of fat generally will not render fully, and they will remain fatty chunks in the steak. The best meat for a juicy, delicious steak is one with thin lines of marbling throughout the steak so that juice and flavor are evenly dispersed. Keep in mind that some cuts of meat naturally have more marbling than others.

The Cut

As you peruse a steakhouse menu or walk down the meat aisle in your supermarket, you may notice cuts like T-bones, porterhouses, rib-eyes, sirloins, filets and more. These are all popular cuts of meat for a delicious steak, but which ones should you lean toward? The cuts describe the area of the cow where the meat comes from. Some areas are naturally leaner, fattier, juicier or more tender than others.

A T-bone steak, for example, comes from meat located close to the stomach. It is appropriately named because of the T-shaped bone that runs through the center of the meat. This bone divides the steak into two unique cuts, and these are a tenderloin and a strip steak. Notably, the fact that a T-bone steak has two cuts of meat in it can make it more challenging to cook properly. Nonetheless, both cuts are usually tender and flavorful when they are prepared properly. Keep in mind that a porterhouse steak is a type of T-bone steak. The difference is that the tenderloin cut of a porterhouse must be at least 1.25 inches thick. Most porterhouse steaks are substantially thicker than this.

Rib-eye steaks are popular because of how juicy and flavorful they are. This meat cut comes from an area of the cow that has rich marbling. Some rib-eye steaks may be less than an inch thick. However, if you are picking out a rib-eye steak at the grocery store, keep in mind that the ideal cut is closer to 1.5 inches thick.

Many people enjoy eating sirloin steaks as well. Notably, sirloin steak comes from the rear of the cow where there is less fat and marbling. This is a lean cut of meat that can often be tough, and this is particularly true when it is not cooked properly. However, this is also one of the most flavorful cuts of meat.

Also called a tenderloin, a filet is another popular cut of beef. This cut is derived from meat that runs from the cow's ribs to its rear, and a filet is specifically the portion of this cut that is located closer to the ribs. This unique location makes a tenderloin extremely tender. The cut is usually relatively small in diameter, but it is common to find them up to three inches thick.

A strip steak is another option to consider. It comes from the rib section of the animal. Because this is not a muscular area, a strip steak is often tender. It may also have some marbling, which adds to its flavor and juiciness. Most strip steaks are between one and two inches thick, and some are sold as a bone-in cut. The most ideal thickness is 1.5 inches.

The Cooking Method

Before you settle on a specific cut of beef or choose a thickness for the meat, it is important to consider how you plan to cook your steak. The most common methods are grilled, pan-seared, and oven-baked. A steak cooked over an open flame has an additional element of flavor that you may not get with other methods. However, grills normally have high temperatures, so the steak must be monitored carefully. Furthermore, steak drippings from a well-marbled cut of meat can cause the flame to shoot up and char the steak. If you plan to grill a steak, consider using a drip pan to catch the drippings before they reach the flames. Both thinner and thicker cuts of steak are suitable for the grill, but it may be easier to cook the meat properly if it is a thicker cut.

Some cuts of meat are particularly tasty when they are cooked in a pan on the stove. These may be thinner cuts where you need to maintain a specific temperature to avoid overcooking the meat. It is also easier to cook a steak in olive oil seasonings on the stove versus on the grille. With this in mind, pan-cooking could be great for cuts with less marbling.

You may assume that baking steak in the oven would produce a dry, tough piece of meat. However, when done correctly, baking can result in the perfect steak. Generally, you should pan-sear the steak in a frying pan first. This is to create the slightly crisp texture that you want as well as to lock in the fat's juices. One of the great benefits of baking a steak in the oven is the ability to add a delicious sauce while the meat is cooking. This may be particularly beneficial when you are cooking a leaner cut of meat. The actual cook time will depend on how well-done you want your steak and how thick the cut is. Because the meat may continue cooking after you pull it out of the oven, you may want to do so slightly before it is baked to your satisfaction.

You can see that the thickness of the meat and the cut may impact your cooking method. If you have your heart set on grilling, you may choose a different cut than you would if you do not feel like firing up the grill.

Make Your Steak Selection

Everything from the thickness of the steak and its cut to its marbling and your preferred cooking method must be taken into account as you make your selection. While choosing the right steak is important, preparing the steak is both an art and a science. With this in mind, you may need to practice cooking many steaks before you have mastered the right technique for each cut that you enjoy eating.

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Steak Company FAQ

Definitely not! Why rely on your local supermarket's less-than impressive cuts when you can get the best sirloin, Porterhouse, filet mignon or T-bone - delivered right to your doorstep!
If you can name it, you can get it online. Angus? Aye. Wagyu and Kobe? Hai. And, companies that specialize in delivering steak know how to package it perfectly so it arrives fresh.
As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. When buying steak online, you'll tend to find the more premium cuts and grades of meat, but there are plenty of deals that make it affordable to get an unforgettable meal.
Most retailers offering food delivery understand that sometimes things go wrong in transit. If your steak arrives in less-than-perfect condition, you'll probably get a new shipment at no extra charge. Or, the store may give you a full refund or a store credit. Policies vary, so be sure you look for the company's satisfaction policy if you're concerned.
That depends. Steak can be ordered a la carte, and shipping costs usually depend on the size of your order. Some companies offer subscription clubs that deliver your meat on a regular, scheduled basis; with those plans, shipping is often included at no extra charge.
Yes! Can you think of a better way of making sure that you have a delicious steak dinner every single month? You can typically choose plans ranging from 3 to 12 months.
Depending on which store you select, you may only have cuts of beef to choose from. However, retailers that offer gift-giving options tend to have a wide range of possibilities, from seafood to desserts.
Why not? Maybe you'd love to treat your parents to a nice dinner, but they live a thousand miles away. Or you've got a hard-to-please boss and you really want to impress her at the holidays. Sending steak, a surf-and-turf combo, or a complete meal package will be a gift they'll remember.

Compare Steak Companies

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best-steak-companies
  • Chicago Steak Company
  • Mr. Steak
  • US Wellness Meats
  • Rastellis
  • Snake River Farms
  • Stock Yards
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  • Great Wisconsin Steak Company
  • Good Chop
  • Farm Foods
  • Crowd Cow
  • Steaks & Game
Chicago Steak Company vs Mr. Steak Chicago Steak Company vs US Wellness Meats Chicago Steak Company vs Rastellis Chicago Steak Company vs Snake River Farms Chicago Steak Company vs Stock Yards Chicago Steak Company vs Omaha Steaks Chicago Steak Company vs Great Wisconsin Steak Company Chicago Steak Company vs Good Chop Chicago Steak Company vs Farm Foods Chicago Steak Company vs Crowd Cow Chicago Steak Company vs Steaks & Game Mr. Steak vs US Wellness Meats Mr. Steak vs Rastellis Mr. Steak vs Snake River Farms Mr. Steak vs Stock Yards Mr. Steak vs Omaha Steaks Mr. Steak vs Great Wisconsin Steak Company Mr. Steak vs Good Chop Mr. Steak vs Farm Foods Mr. Steak vs Crowd Cow Mr. Steak vs Steaks & Game US Wellness Meats vs Rastellis US Wellness Meats vs Snake River Farms US Wellness Meats vs Stock Yards US Wellness Meats vs Omaha Steaks US Wellness Meats vs Great Wisconsin Steak Company US Wellness Meats vs Good Chop US Wellness Meats vs Farm Foods US Wellness Meats vs Crowd Cow US Wellness Meats vs Steaks & Game Rastellis vs Snake River Farms Rastellis vs Stock Yards Rastellis vs Omaha Steaks Rastellis vs Great Wisconsin Steak Company Rastellis vs Good Chop Rastellis vs Farm Foods Rastellis vs Crowd Cow Rastellis vs Steaks & Game Snake River Farms vs Stock Yards Snake River Farms vs Omaha Steaks Snake River Farms vs Great Wisconsin Steak Company Snake River Farms vs Good Chop Snake River Farms vs Farm Foods Snake River Farms vs Crowd Cow Snake River Farms vs Steaks & Game Stock Yards vs Omaha Steaks Stock Yards vs Great Wisconsin Steak Company Stock Yards vs Good Chop Stock Yards vs Farm Foods Stock Yards vs Crowd Cow Stock Yards vs Steaks & Game Omaha Steaks vs Great Wisconsin Steak Company Omaha Steaks vs Good Chop Omaha Steaks vs Farm Foods Omaha Steaks vs Crowd Cow Omaha Steaks vs Steaks & Game Great Wisconsin Steak Company vs Good Chop Great Wisconsin Steak Company vs Farm Foods Great Wisconsin Steak Company vs Crowd Cow Great Wisconsin Steak Company vs Steaks & Game Good Chop vs Farm Foods Good Chop vs Crowd Cow Good Chop vs Steaks & Game Farm Foods vs Crowd Cow Farm Foods vs Steaks & Game Crowd Cow vs Steaks & Game
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