Here are some useful tips when purchasing steaks, and also some general information to help guide you along the way. You must do your research on what’s involved in purchasing and cooking steaks in order to have the best experience. So here we go…
There are 3 grades given for different cuts of steak. One if ‘Prime’, which is the highest cut, top of the line steak. Prime grade steak is mostly sold to fine dining restaurants, so it’s harder to find in stores and is much more expensive than others, of course. Next is ‘Choice’, which is an average cut, not the highest and not the lowest. The lowest grade is ‘Select’, but despite being at the bottom, it is still well above the criteria for human consumption. Anything below that is used as by-products in other foods.
The best cuts are the Rib, Short Loin, Rib Eye, Roast, Top Loin, Tenderloin (Filet), T-Bone, and Porterhouse. Strip steaks are made from the T-Bone as well. Most of these steaks are very popular in restaurants and are very tender when cooked right. If you want to truly enjoy a steak, you need to get one of these cuts, but you will pay more. The tougher cuts are the chuck, round, and flank steaks, but they are cheaper. The picture below shows where all the cuts come from on the cow.
The tougher cuts are the chuck, round, and flank steaks. Chuck steak is located on the front of the cow and is often used in ground beef because of its flavor and fat-meat ratio. To get it more tender, it’s best for stews or slow cooking. Round steak is located at the rear of the cow and is often used to make jerky. It gets dry, so braising or some other slow heat with moisture is best for cooking it. And finally, flank steak is located on the underbelly toward the rear of the cow and is often used in fajitas. It can be cooked a number of ways, but it should be prepared with a meat tenderizer first.
The people who have the best steak eating experiences are the ones who can afford it, quite frankly. They can get very expensive, and the best ones cooked at restaurants cost $40 or more. Buying them at the store will still be a nice chunk of change, but not nearly as much as restaurants.
Tenderloin (filets) are the most expensive because they are the most tender cut of steaks. After that, in order of highest cost to lowest is: T-Bone/Porterhouse, Strip, Rib Eye, Top Sirloin, Prime Rib, Flank, Top Round, Brisket, Skirt, Chuck, and Tri-Tip.
Going out to eat is nice, but if you know what you’re doing when it comes to cooking steaks, you can cook it well at home and pay much less. Videos will be loaded onto this site explaining how to cook each cut properly so you can learn, if you don’t already know.
Buying A Steak
When you’ve decided to cook your own steaks, there are tips you can use to pick the best cut, depending on what you’re using it for and how it’s cooked best. This will involve looking at the fat on the cut, the thickness, and feeling the tenderness of it.
Marbling is the fat running through the meat. If it is in thin strips, it will most likely be a tender cut, and thicker strips mean it will be tough. The lack of fat in a steak means it will be more tender, but will be less flavorful, so it needs more additions when you cook it, like a sauce or rub. In restaurants, they fry the filet mignon in butter to give it a more rich flavor because it lacks enough fat to produce much of its own flavor.
Remember to also use the grade system and be on the lookout for the best cuts. Also, a steak that says ‘Sirloin’ only might not be as good as Top Sirloin. If you’re making a stew, one of the cheaper cuts will work well, or the round roasts will do well in a crock pot because it’s being kept moist. Sometimes, though, the moisture can be lost by leaking out of the steak. So a good practice for that is to fry the outside of the roast before you put it in the crock pot, so that it stays nice and juicy. Enjoy your steak however it’s made!