Steak For many men, it’s their favorite meal, a treat at a restaurant, or a point of pride in their home cooking repertoire. It’s such an important food in many cultures that entire restaurants are dedicated to perfecting it, and the definition of the perfect types of steak is hotly debated.
Even though it’s a deceptively simple dish, requiring only a bit of seasoning and some heat, there are many things to know about steak before you get started grilling, searing or ordering one. Therefore, this article will discuss what exactly a steak is, the characteristics of a good one, and the best cuts to buy.
What is steak?
It may seem like an overly simplistic question, but it actually has some nuances. After all, not just any piece of meat is automatically considered steak. The actual definition is then the following: a piece of meat, usually beef, that is cut perpendicular to the muscle fibers. While this definition may apply to other meats, this particular series of articles will focus specifically on steaks, a staple in Western cultures.
Before we go any further with specific information, there are a few important considerations that we feel obligated to address.
In short: while steak is delicious, beef is controversial.
It’s an expensive, resource-intense food that is damaging to the environment.
Cattle are not always raised under humane conditions, and antibiotic use in animals has been linked to growing antibiotic resistance.
Furthermore, beef is definitely not a health food. In fact, the World Health Organization links regular consumption of red meat to an increased risk of cancer.
While many attempts have been made to reframe red meat as healthy (such as the “paleo diet” or advocacy of eating grass-fed beef) it simply isn’t. Ultimately, everyone must choose for themselves if or how they consume red meat.
Characteristics of a Great Steak
Now that we’ve covered our necessary disclaimers, let’s get back to discussing the particulars of what makes for a good steak. Overall, there are two key characteristics of a steak to consider: tenderness and flavor.
The importance of tenderness cannot be underestimated; This is why “tenderizing” a steak is a popular search topic. Tender types of steak are easy and tasty to chew. Nobody’s idea of a good steak should include a dining experience akin to chewing on a piece of leather! With that in mind, the easiest way to get a tender steak is to start with a tender piece of meat, because not all steaks are created equal when it comes to tenderness, no matter how you cook them or how long they’ve been aged. ancient.
When considering tenderness, let’s look at the characteristics of the steak itself and set aside the cooking method for later consideration (i.e., the second article in this series). There are two main considerations when it comes to cuteness:
1: How much the muscle was used
Just as humans train different muscles to varying degrees, the same is true for cattle. The less of a particular muscle was used by the cow in question, the more tender the resulting piece of meat will be. For example, the muscles along the spine (which are cut on many of the steaks we look at below) get much less use than the hips and shoulders (which end up being cheaper cuts, like the chop).
2: The proportions of muscle, collagen and fat in the steak
A steak contains three main types of body material, not counting bone: muscle, collagen (a type of connective tissue that holds muscles together), and fat. Muscle is the main substance of the steak, fat provides flavor, and collagen provides structure. During cooking, the connective tissues do not have enough time to break down; therefore, tender types of steak should generally contain less connective tissue. Finely marbled fat melts during cooking, but thicker fat pockets don’t; this compromises tenderness.
This is why thin but intensely marbled Wagyu or Kobe beef is so highly prized, but we’ll cover this type of beef later in the article.
What makes a steak tasty?
Let’s again look at the flavor of the steak itself rather than the seasonings that may be added during or before cooking.
The main components that contribute to flavor are the amount of fat in the meat, the diet of the animal it came from, and how the meat is aged.
Fat is the main flavor component of meat.
Meat is largely made up of muscle tissue and therefore water.
Flavor-carrying molecules are repelled by water, but dissolve in fat; therefore, the fat enhances the flavor.
As an added enhancement, the fat also contributes to the juiciness of the steak.
With the information we’ve presented above, you should now be familiar enough with the basic characteristics of a quality steak at restaurant mirdif, as well as the unique characteristics of our top five cuts. Of course, this is only the first part of the process of enjoying a good steak; After you decide what you want, you have to buy your steaks and then cook them properly. Check out the last two sections of this Steak Guide to learn more about these two facets of the experience: Part II is about buying a steak, and Part III is about cooking and serving techniques. Enjoy your dinner!