March 31st, 2010

Steaks on TV

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The Travel Channel is tackling that most sacred of subjects:  STEAK!

They’re visiting steakhouses all over the U.S. and illuminating the pros and cons of each one. From New York’s Peter Luger’s to the Big Texan in, well, Texas, you’ll get an idea of what’s in store for you at each one.

BUT . . . of course, TV can’t give you a taste. My advice? Check them out and copy the styles you see on the tube in your own kitchen.

I’m crazy like that.

Photo courtesy of TravelChannel.com.

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March 30th, 2010

How to Buy Prime Steak: A Guide to Steak Cuts, Grades & Aging

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Tips and thoughts from a wonderful chef friend of mine . . . he knows what he’s talking about!

You cannot help but to look at two different steaks in the store and wonder why one is 3 times as expensive as the other. Often times we tend to accept a lower quality steak just so it doesn’t hit our wallets so bad. However, there are some good tips to help you pick the best steak regardless of the price points.

You have lots of options as a steak lover, each with their own pros and cons.  The first hurdle we are going to look at, because, honestly, it is the problem we usually confront with all of our decisions – price.

Cuts Make a Difference

Lots of factors affect how much a steak costs, like the cut of meat, the type of feed the animal ate and even the breed of the cow itself.  The cuts break down from most to least expensive in this way:  filet mignon, ribeye, strip and sirloin.

There are lots of other cuts but we won’t worry about those since they don’t really fall into the “steak” category most of us traditionally think of.  Each of these cuts come from a particular muscle in the animal, the filet from the tenderloin (which runs through the hindquarter of the animal and through the short loin and sirloin cuts), the ribeye from the rib section and the strip from the short loin.  The Porterhouse and T-bone come from here as well but we will cover those later.  And finally, the sirloin from the sirloin.

These selections all make ideal steak choices for one important reason – tenderness.  Muscles that get used more frequently tend to be tough.  That is why you don’t often see steaks from the round (rear leg) section thrown on the grill.  They taste great, but you will be chewing for a long time.  In order of tenderness the steaks above go as follows, filet mignon (from the tenderloin, tender-loin, get it?) ribeye, strip and sirloin.

This follows our price list above.  There is a direct correlation between how tender a steak is and how much it costs.  Other cuts you might see in the store are flank, plate, chuck or round steaks.  But these will all be very tough if cooked in the traditional “steak” methods.

Another thing to keep in mind is that muscles that are used more frequently, and are therefore tougher, also happen to have a more robust flavor.  This has to do with more blood circulation through the muscle while the animal is alive.  Chuck, or shoulder as it would be called to those of us non-butchers, can be extremely tough.  But it is a beefier tasting beef.

So back to our steaks.  There is nothing that compares to the soft, velvety mouth-feel of a filet, but more than a few steak enthusiasts lament its subtle beef flavor and prefer a ribeye or strip because it offers more of that classic beef taste.  Sirloin at the bottom end of the toughness scale (and still quite tender, really) has the best flavor of the steaks.  Ribeye and strip tend to give you the best balance in terms of cost, flavor and tenderness.

USDA Grading – What is It?

So now you know where the steaks come from, but what about all those words advertisers stick to them like Angus or Prime?  All meat is inspected by the USDA for wholesomeness.  This means if it is sold, it is legally fit for human consumption.  Unfortunately, that is a pretty low bar, so the USDA has a grading system.

Grading is a voluntary system that beef producers allow their meats to be graded on in several categories.  The long and short of it is a delicate balance of fat to lean meat, plus the age of the animal.

The younger the animal and the higher the fat marbling of the meat, the higher (and therefore more expensive) the grade.  The only grades you want to consider, (even though there are eight of them, the bottom few named “canner” and “cull” – yum, right?) are prime, choice and select.


Prime Filets
Prime can be very expensive and has beautiful fat marbling in a very tender steak. Steak image courtesy of KansasCitySteaks.com


Choice Steaks
Choice offers a great value of marbling and tenderness at a fair price.




Select Steak

Select has much less marbling. (Used by permission of USDA.gov)


But, remember, you only want to go with the most tender cuts.  Don’t be taken in by names like Angus or Wagyu.  They typically mean much higher prices.  Certain breeders of cattle specialize in one breed, like Angus, Black Angus or the ridiculously expensive Wagyu (this is a breed of cow from Kobe, Japan, where the animals have beer with their breakfast and at a minimum one hour of massage a day.  It can also cost well over $100 per lb.).  These breeder associations have created their own system to market their cows with their own standards, not the USDA’s.  Because of that, they can charge a pretty penny.

Dry Aging or Wet Aging?

Another component to look for is aging.  I’m gonna get a little technical and gross here (and I mean very little technical).  When an animal is butchered the muscles go through rigor mortis where it becomes tough, and over time the muscles soften.  This freshly butchered meat is called green meat.  You don’t want that.  It’s not actually green by the way, the term green refers to age, not color.

Green meat is tough and chewy.  The muscles need to relax before you try cooking them.  A reputable supplier only sells meat that has been aged properly.  There are two ways to age:  dry and wet.

Dry aging is expensive and very difficult to find.  The meat is hung in a temperature and humidity controlled environment and allowed to rest for a set period of time.  Eleven days or so has proven to be the magic number here where tenderness no longer increases.  One of the reasons dry aging is so expensive is that you have considerable moisture loss and therefore a higher cost per pound.

Wet aging occurs when meat is packed into vacuum-sealed packaging and allowed to rest in its own liquid (sounds worse than it is).  Many consumers prefer wet aging because dry aging sometimes imparts a musty, basementy aroma.

Where Can I Buy Quality Steaks?

So now you know what cut to look for and what grade you want.  So where do you go?  You should look for a butcher like you do a mechanic.  A good one is hard to find.  Once you find one, ask questions like, “Where do they get their beef from?” “Is it grain fed?” “How is their meat aged?”

A good butcher will answer all of these questions.  Shop around and go to Web sites for information.  There is plenty out there.

Hopefully this gives you some food for thought!

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March 26th, 2010

High Steaks

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For your viewing pleasure . . .

A classic Tom and Jerry cartoon, “High Steaks,” where Tom and Jerry commence with their usual shenanigans over a freshly grilled steak.

Priceless.

The music is fantastic. The tricks are the same as you remember. This reminds me of eating snacks and winding down after school back in the day. Ah, memories.

Enjoy your weekend, steak lovers!

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March 24th, 2010

Better Beef

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My son is a Type 1 diabetic. So, I get all the publications from the American Diabetes Association. Their magazine, Diabetes Forecast, is awesome. It’s got great health information and recipes.

This article about choosing the healthiest beef (hence, steak) is a great tool. It explains a lot about how to get the most out of your beef-eating experiences.

And don’t we all want that in the end?

These heart-healthy steaks certified by the American Heart Association are some of my faves. Try ‘em yourself!

And check out that Diabetes Forecast article here. Your heart, your body and your taste buds will thank you for it!

Photo courtesy of American Diabetes Association.

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March 22nd, 2010

Steak Experiences

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There is an “I Like Steaks” forum on the Web I like to check out every once in a while. It’s a place where like-minded people (steak lovers) go to talk about, well, STEAK.

Here’s what “Valentine” had to say over at ExperienceProject.com:

Steak is great!  My favorite is Delmonico.  I marinate them overnight with my homemade marinade and then grill them.  Mine is cooked medium rare.  Yum!

Wanna get in on the discussion? Tell me your favorite ways to cook steak — just send them to me in the comments section, and join the discussion over at “I Like Steaks” too!

Photo courtesy of ExperienceProject.com.


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March 20th, 2010

Steak Recipe: Rocco’s Pepper Steak

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Wanna be like the Biggest Loser?

You know, that show on NBC?

I do. Those folks are focused, driven and they know their stuff.

That’s partly because they have the help of some very talented trainers . . . and chefs.

That’s where we come in. Chef Rocco DiSpirito created this amazing pepper steak as a healthy, tasty meal for Season 5′s Biggest Loser contestants.

Hey, if it’s good enough for them, it’s perfect for me.

See what YOU think!

Rocco’s Pepper Steak

Serves 4

3 -1/2 cups Free-Range Chicken Broth, low sodium
fresh ground pepper and NuSalt
1 cup short-grain brown rice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
12 Anaheim peppers
Pam spray
4 5-ounce portions lean beef tenderloin
1 vidalia onion, slice thinly
5 cloves chopped garlic
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup Trader Joe’s Fat Free Salt-Free Marinara
1/2 cup Evaporated Fat Free Milk
1/2 cup chopped fines herbs (parsley, chives, tarragon and chervil)
pinch cayenne

DIRECTIONS

1. Bring 2 cups chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepot. Season with NuSalt and add rice. Cover, turn down heat to a very low simmer and cook for about 1 hour or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Fuff rice with fork and toss with olive oil. Keep warm.

2. Char Anaheim peppers over an open flame, turning to cook evenly, until skins are mostly burnt. Place peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for about 7 minutes to steam off skin. Remove as much charred skin as possible with a paper towel. Seed peppers and cut into rings about 1/2 inch thick.

3. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Season steaks with pepper and NuSalt and spray pan with Pam. Sauté until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Remove steaks from pan and keep warm.

4. Spray pan with Pam again and add onions. Sauté until onions are starting to become tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Deglaze with balsamic vinegar. Add 1 cup chicken stock to the pan and bring to a simmer. Mix remaining 1/2 cup chicken stock with cornstarch to make a slurry and whisk into pan. Stir in marinara and evaporated milk and bring to a simmer. Add peppers, cayenne and simmer until vegetables are tender. Return beef to the pan to reheat, for about 2 minutes. Stir in fines herbs. Serve with rice.

Recipe and logo courtesy of NBC.com.

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March 19th, 2010

Steak Recipe: Teriyaki Flank Steak With Green Onions

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Oh, the flavors!

The colors!

Isn’t that what we all like about a great meal? A total sensory experience?

Presentation counts, man. And this one does it up right!

Check it out . . .

Teriyaki Flank Steak With Green Onions

Ingredients

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated or minced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 flank steak (about 1 1/2 pounds)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

12 green onions, cut into 1-inch lengths

2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted

Instructions

1. Whisk soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, ginger, pepper flakes, and cornstarch in medium bowl.  (Or use a handheld blender to blend.)

2. Pat steak dry with paper towels. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook steak until well browned and cooked to desired doneness, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Transfer to cutting board and tent with foil.

3. Add remaining oil and green onions to empty skillet and cook until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes; transfer to bowl. Stir soy sauce mixture and any accumulated beef juices into skillet and simmer, scraping up any browned bits, until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Slice beef thin on bias against grain. Transfer to bowl (or serving platter) and toss with sauce, green onions, and sesame seeds. Serve with rice.

Note: To toast sesame seeds, cook them in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Photo and recipe courtesy of Mangeratrois.net.

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March 15th, 2010

Is it a Steak . . . Or a Cake?

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You be the judge . . .

Exhibit 1:

Exhibit 2:

Some people are SO, SO creative!

And they must have a lot of time on their hands.

But anyone who likes steak that much is a friend in my book!

For more steak/cake creations, click here.

Photos courtesy of YesButNoButYes.com.

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March 12th, 2010

I Like Steak Photos. What Of It?

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Perhaps I am a bit of an odd duck.

Scattered in the recesses of my hard drive, among the photographs of my kids playing soccer, the boys wrestling with their dad, family get-togethers, first-day-of-school shots and the like are . . . pictures of steak.

Lots of ‘em.

So, when my computer goes into “sleep” mode it randomly chooses photos from said hard drive to display.

It goes a little something like this:

Photo of kids in swimsuits

Shot of family dog (now deceased)

Group shot of kids playing soccer

Picture of raw meat

Posed family beach vacation photo

Picture of my husband and I at some tourist spot in New York

Closeup of steak simmering in its own juices

Weird. I know.

When friends come for dinner (inevitably, beef is involved), they must walk by my “sleeping” computer in my home office to get to the nearest bathroom from time to time.

They’ll stop and admire the photos. Until . . . the meat starts popping up.

What is that?” they’ll inquire, exasperatedly. Like they weren’t expecting meat or something. Sheesh.

Then I go into my love of steak, the sheer beauty of a great food shot, what it takes to really focus on the main dish in the front of the plate, while still featuring the sides, blah, blah, blah.

I’ll tell them about this blog if they aren’t already aware of it, and what a true “steak enthusiast” is.

It’s my way of educating the public. One recruit at a time.

Most of the time they are intrigued. They want to know more and, perhaps, they wonder why THEY haven’t been photographing their dinners too.

There’s room for all of us, I say. Steak enthusiasts unite!

Because a great cut of meat is truly a concept we can all get behind.

Except for strict vegetarians.

And I don’t know any of those.

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March 11th, 2010

Steak Recipe: Grilled Ribeye Steak with Onion Blue Cheese Sauce

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Oh, ho ho.

Rich. Decadent. Saucy.

The Pioneer Woman says this sauce is almost a side dish on its own.

It looks dreamy.

Mixed with a tender ribeye, just brimming with its own juices? This recipe is absolutely mouth watering.

I am in love.

Check it out for yourself. . .

Grilled Ribeye Steak with Onion Blue Cheese Sauce

Prep Time: 5 Minutes Cook Time: 15 Minutes Difficulty: Easy Servings: 2

Ingredients

2 whole Ribeye Steaks

2 Tablespoons Butter

Salt

Pepper

4 Tablespoons Butter

1 whole Very Large Yellow Onion, Sliced

1 cup Heavy Cream

½ cups Crumbled Blue Cheese

Preparation Instructions

Salt and pepper both sides of the steaks. Grill in 2 tablespoons butter until medium rare.

Saute onions in 4 tablespoons butter over high heat. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until dark and caramelized. Reduce heat to simmer and pour in cream. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until reduced by half. Stir in blue cheese until melted. Serve steaks on generous portion of sauce.

Faint.

Photo and recipe courtesy of Ree Drummond at ThePioneerWoman.com.

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March 8th, 2010

Steak Recipe: Stewed Steak

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This. Looks. So. Tender.

I want to eat this right now. This sirloin steak is browned and then put in a roasting pan with other goodies, then placed in the oven for a couple of hours.

What a perfect winter pick-me-up! This one will make your whole house smell amazing for hours. To me, this says, “Welcome home!” Even if you’ve been there all day.

Stewed Steak

Serves 4-6

3 pounds of sirloin, cross-rib or round steak (or similar cut)

1 cup flour

2 tsp ground thyme

2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg.

Season the steaks with salt and pepper. Mix together the flour, thyme and nutmeg. Dredge the steaks in the flour mixture, then brown them on both sides in a little canola oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat. No need to cook them fully, just brown the surfaces well. Drain the excess oil from the skillet and deglaze the pan with a little beef stock before adding it to the steak in the roasting pan.

Place the browned steaks in a covered roasting pan and add:

5-6 cups of good beef stock (low sodium stock if you are using sore bought)

NOTE: You can substitute 1 cup of broth with a cup of red wine for an even richer gravy.

3 cloves minced garlic

4 tbsp Worchestershire Sauce

1 tsp ground black pepper

Cover and slow cook the steaks in the oven at 300 degrees F for 2-3 hours or until the meat is very tender and begins to fall apart. The flour that was used to brown the steaks helps to thicken the gravy as it cooks. I like to skim any surface fat off the gravy before serving. Serve with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables.

Recipe and photo courtesy of RockRecipes.Blogspot.com.

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March 5th, 2010

8 Steak Images to Make You Drool

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Mmmmm . . . a big, juicy, tender steak.

It can come in all shapes and sizes, cuts and thicknesses, sauced or unsauced.  The possibilities are mind boggling.

And tempting.

You’ve got filet mignon, soft and tender.  Rich, hearty ribeye.  Sirloin steaks – perfect for sandwiches.  T-bones when you really want that bone-in flavorful goodness.  And let’s not forget the Porterhouse – a man-size portion.

But to do these descriptions justice, you’ve got to see ‘em in action.

So, I’ve compiled 8 amazing steak images that will absolutely make you drool.  We’ve got thick steaks, strip steaks, steak tips and so much more.

I just wish I could transmit smell and taste through the Web!  Some day, folks . . . some day.

1.

http://steamykitchen.com/5984-bacon-blue-cheese-butter-on-grilled-steak.html

Ohhh, bacon bleu cheese butter. Where have you been all my life? Your rich, savory flavor is the perfect complement for this tender, tender steak.

2.

http://teandwheatenbread.blogspot.com/2009/09/steak-and-chips.html

A buttery Marsala sauce makes this steak and chips combination a mouth-watering temptation.

3.

http://www.eclecticcook.com/strip-steak-and-chimichurri-sauce/

Hello, chimichurri sauce! This gorgeous, vibrant green sauce gives a KC Strip just the right amount of tangy zip.

4.

http://pinkparsleycatering.blogspot.com/2009/09/rosemary-grilled-steaks-with-tomato-jam.html

The contrast of the rosemary-flavored beef and the sweet tomato jam is a feast for the eyes – as well as the taste buds!

5.

http://www.bellalimento.com/2009/08/12/pepper-encrusted-steaks/

This bold cut of beef is brimming with flavor – pepper-encrusted flavor. My favorite!

6.

http://creatimo.wordpress.com/2009/06/07/smoked-diamond-back-steak-with-cherry-cabernet-morel-sauce/

Simply fabulous. You can practically taste these smoky, tender steak slices in a cherry cabernet morel sauce.

7.

http://www.soyandpepper.com/2008/10/how-to-cook-steak.html

Any way you slice it, this is one tantalizing photo. Just look at that juicy steak goodness. And those cross-hatch marks – to die for!

8.

http://www.kansascitysteaks.com/Kansas-City-Strips.3.htm

Okay, this one is making me hungry. I can just smell that sizzling slice of heaven. And those onion rings? Fuhgeddaboudit!

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March 4th, 2010

No More Steak Mistakes!

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Fatima cooks steaks that are tough and overdone.

Emeril can help with that.

Here are his tips for steaks that are just right:

Emeril’s Tips for Cooking the Perfect Steak:

1) Steaks must be cooked so that the entire surface caramelizes to form a rich thick crust.

2) Grill Pan: Bone in Steaks should be grilled outdoors or on an indoor grill pan to achieve maximum contact between heat source and meat

3) Cast Iron Skillet: Boneless Rib Eye and Strip steaks are the best for pan searing

Emeril talks more about this in his episode about steak mistakes on “Emeril Green” — his show on Planet Green, a Discovery company. Hey, I’d take advice from him. The man knows his way around a kitchen, grill, smoker, wok, convection oven, fryer…

For more insight from Chef Emeril Lagasse on this subject, check out PlanetGreen.com.

Photo and tips courtesy of PlanetGreen.com.

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March 3rd, 2010

World’s Most Delicious Steak

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I wonder if it knows the World’s Most Interesting Man???

Anyway, this video purports to show you how to make a steak that rates as “most delicious.” We’ll let you be the judge of that.

This is the way they do it in Southern Brazil. Now that’s awesome — and a long way from where I live.

Check it out!


World’s Most Delicious SteakFunny videos are here

Video courtesy of Metacafe.com.

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About Me

Hi! My name is Dena P., and I love steak. In fact, I’ve been on a quest for the perfect steak for a few years now.

I love experimenting with food and I like to get my family, friends and neighbors involved. They add a lot to my cooking experience by helping me perfect techniques and sharing recipes.

Read More About Me »

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