Top 10 Mistakes When Buying Steak
|01-16-2010 10:52 PM
The first two mistakes when buying steak is not understanding the different grades of beef and buying the wrong cut of steak for the recipe that you want to prepare.
Prime steak is the best grade you can find – it is tender and highly marbled. The bad news is this grade of beef is expensive and very hard to find in your local grocery store. The grade that you will find in your local supermarket is choice or select grade. Select grade is the lowest on the totem pole and is less flavorful, and less tender. You can find prime grade steak but usually only at a butcher shop. If you cannot find prime grade, then go with choice grade.
Now let’s take a look at different cuts of beef. Beef cuts come from three different sections. Starting from the upper back and moving down to the mid-back you have the rib, the short loin and the sirloin. This area contains cuts like the Rib Roast, Rib Eye Steak and Back Ribs. This section produces the least tender cuts compared to all the other sections.
The short loin is used to produce T-bone, Top Loin, Tenderloin, and Porterhouse cuts. The sirloin section contains Sirloin and the Top Sirloin. Other cuts such as the chuck, round steak, and flank steak are usually tough. So called strip steaks are cut from the T-bone section. A good example of a strip steak is New York Steak.
The tenderest cuts of steak come from the tenderloin area – Chateaubriand, Filet Mignon and Tournedos. These cuts may be more tender but do not have the flavor characteristic of tougher cuts, such as Rib-Eye or Rib Steak, and steaks from the sirloin area. The tender cuts, which are less lean, are perfect for grilling and using sauces. The leaner cuts that are tougher do become tenderer when they are marinated, sliced thin and grilled quickly.
No matter what cut you purchase you should look for fat. Many people believe they need less fat, also known as marbling. But this is not true. A tough steak contains thick lines of fat which means a lot of connective tissue. The thing to look for in a good steak is the color. The meat should be bright red and the fat thin, with a creamy white color and evenly distributed through the meat.
The next mistake is buying steak that is cut far from the bone. The closer the meat is to the bone the more flavor the steak will have. This is why T-Bone steak is so popular.
It is also advisable to buy steak that is dry aged if possible. You will probably not find any dry aged beef in your local grocery store because this process takes longer and is a much more expensive than the ones used for the mass market of meat lovers.
What is dry aging?
The meat is hung in a cooler for a certain amount of time to dry out. The dry aging process causes up to 40 percent shrinkage. This will increase the cost, but the aging adds more flavor and also tenderizes the meat. If you buy your steak from a local grocery store, the steak has been cut, wrapped in plastic and aged on the way to the store. This will not result in a great flavor, and the beef will certainly not have the time to tenderize.
When you are buying steak it’s best to talk to the butcher at the grocery store. You do not want to purchase beef that has been injected with flavoring or has been kept in a liquid. In that case you would be paying for the extra weight that has been added to the steak. A liquid can also cause the steak to break down and make it mushy.
Also try to find out from the butcher if they tenderize the meat. Tenderizing should be performed a certain way that does not involve piercing the meat. If they tenderize by repetitively piercing the steak it will lose much of its natural flavoring before you purchase the steak.
Top 10 Mistakes Made When Purchasing Steak Meat:
1. Buying the lowest grade of steak
2. Buying the wrong cut of steak for the meal you are planning
3. Buying steak with little marbling
4. Buying steak cut far away from the bone or the tougher sections
5. Buying steak that is on sale
6. Buying steak that has been injected with flavorings
7. Buying steak that has been tenderized by the butcher
8. Buying steak that is not dry aged
9. Buying steak from the local grocery store
10. Not talking to your butcher
|Author: Dino Ferr|
10-04-2010 03:23 PM
|This is a very helpful article. I love a great steak but live in a area that doesn’t have any great restaurants nearby and the local grocery stores don’t carry Prime or Choice grades meat. In search of the great steak online, I have discovered a website called Meathub: http://www.meathub.com/steaks-s/46.htm . For all the steak lovers, these guys are great. I have ordered steaks from them dozen times and always been impressed with the quality of the product. I thought I would share since it took me few months to find a solution to my problem. Enjoy. |