Which Steak is Right For You? How to Choose the Perfect Cut and Cook Type
Ordering a steak at a restaurant sounds simple enough, but it can feel like a much more nerve-wracking task when you're surrounded by high-level executives or your entire family. Choosing the right cut of steak is only the beginning of the process as well. If you don't fully understand the differences between the various cooking options, you could end up with a meal that doesn't quite fit your palate. Get a quick rundown on the preparation and cut options, so you feel confident the next time you order.
Major Meat Cuts
While all steaks might be beef, they all come from different parts of the cow. Start by deciding if tenderness or taste is your most important factor. Filet mignon is the most tender possible cut of beef you can serve as a steak, and therefore it's usually the most expensive cut on the menu as well. While it does feel like you're eating a steak made from butter, it doesn't offer quite as much flavor as slightly tougher cuts. Only your personal preference can determine if filet mignon is worth the price tag to you for the soft texture.
For a high end cut of beef that balances flavor and texture, go with a classic ribeye. It tends to be cut with the largest layer of fat around it, and the fat cooks into the meat to lend it a rich and powerful taste that you associate with a quality steak. This cut also tends to have the best marbling. If you're not a fan of visible fat, but love marbled meat for the flavor and softness, New York strip steak remains one of the finest options. Want multiple types of beef in one steak? The Porterhouse combines both the tenderloin area used for the filet mignon with part of the strip steak, resulting in the best of both worlds in one dinner order.
Choosing a Cooking Time
Of course, the anxiety of ordering steak doesn't end once you've chosen a cut. You still need to tell your waiter how long you want the meat cooked, and don't just go with medium rare because you've heard it used a million times. Medium rare is one of the most popular options because it combines the cooked flavors of seared meat on the outside with the powerful tastes only present in lightly cooked beef on the inside. Rare is a tricky way to order because it increases the chances of food poisoning with even the finest cuts of meat, while well-done can be too overcooked. If you're not a fan of pink interiors, aim for medium rather than medium-well to avoid toughness.
Has all this talk of steak made you hungry? Drop in at The Alcove Restaurant & Lounge to put your newfound skills at ordering beef to the test on our extensive menu.