The ultimate steak for Father’s Day
What would Dad enjoy more than a steak for Father’s Day? A great steak grilled to perfection, of course!Do you know how to tell the difference between steaks? Great beef comes from good genetics, excellent animal husbandry, high quality feed, extended finishing in the feedlot and long-term aging by the butcher. These factors can be tough to determine in the store. The consumer’s choice is further complicated by confusing marketing ploys such as fancy brand names, organic labeling and self-certification claims – all of which have nothing to do with quality. Some name-branded beef is even pumped with a 15-percent solution of water and chemical flavorings – AGHAST!Peer past the marketing tricks and look instead for the USDA Quality Grade – a reliable, fact-based assessment of quality done by the Department of Agriculture.To determine the appropriate Quality Grade, USDA inspectors expertly measure and rate quality characteristics, the most notable being internal marbling (the lines of fat that streak the center of a good steak). Marbling gives steak its juiciness and flavor – and the more, the better. Marbling is developed by long, slow feeding of quality grain in the feedlot, a step that is commonly shortcut to save money.The butcher can further enhance flavor and tenderness of beef by extended aging, which is, hanging high-grade sides or primal cuts under specific conditions for two to four weeks before cutting. Due to the extra cost, the extended aging of beef is rare and sadly misrepresented.Life is too short to eat tough steak! With a little understanding and the right techniques, you can grill the ultimate steak at home. Read on to understand what makes beefsteaks great, and the best way to grill them. – Happy Father’s Day!Chef Michael Angelo (Mick) Rosacci and family own and operate Tony’s Meats & Specialty Foods and Tony Rosacci’s Fine Catering in Littleton and Centennial. More recipes can be found at http://www.TonysMarket.com.Beef Quality Grades
— USDA Prime Grade offers abundant marbling and the juiciest and most tender steaks. Only 1 to 2 percent of all beef can meet the stringent standards for the Prime grade, making it rare in today’s market. USDA Prime steaks are the ultimate beefsteaks.– USDA Choice Grade is high quality, but it has less marbling than Prime. This grade represents a wide range of marbling levels from slight to abundant, generally producing tender and juicy steaks.– Premium Choice is a sub-category representing the top 15 percent or so of USDA Choice beef. With marbling levels close to those of Prime, Premium Choice beef is of exceptional quality and mainly reserved for high-end butchers and steakhouses.– USDA Select has only slight marbling so it lacks in juiciness and flavor found in higher grades. USDA Select is the lowest grade of quality beef.– Standard and Commercial grades are frequently sold as non-graded or store brand meats. Not recommended for grilling. Extended AgingButchers and chefs know that aging quality beef for several weeks can dramatically improve tenderness and flavor. During aging, the muscles own enzymes are the principal elements of change, breaking down tissue as they enhance and mature flavors.There are two aging methods – wet and dry. Wet aging is done in airless cryo-vac packages to reduce shrinkage. Dry aged beef is hung unwrapped, which causes significantly more shrinkage. Both wet and dry aging improve the flavor and texture of beef, but most connoisseurs agree that dried beef has the ultimate flavor.Aged beef exhibits visual clues that the savvy buyer can identify. While fresh cuts of beef are a bright red, shiny and wet looking, aged cuts have a duller appearance, lacking that moist, wet shine on the surface. Some cuts will even have a dark edge. Once the steaks are cut, aging stops and spoilage begins, so you cannot age steaks in a refrigerator. Cuts of SteakEach cut has it’s own texture, flavor, size, price and tenderness.
— Rib steak – Thanks to abundant marbling, the rib steak is the juiciest and most flavorful of all steaks. Steaks from the ‘large end’ of the rib are the highest in marbling and a real prize for the lover of juicy steak.– Tenderloin or filet mignon -Beef’s most tender cut is the most expensive, because it can be found in only 6 to 8 pounds per steer. Slender, irregularly shaped and completely encased in gristle and fat, they require special care from the butcher. Tenderloin filets are often wrapped in bacon to make up for their lower fat level.– Strip steaks – Boneless, medium- to well-marbled, and easy to carve, strip steaks are one of beef’s most popular cuts. — T-bone – On one side of the T-shaped bone is the tenderloin, and on the other, the strip steak but a T-bone is more than simply the sum of its parts. Large in size, tender, juicy and flavorful; the T-bone is a first-class steak. — Sirloin – These lack the marbling and tenderness of other quality cuts, but it’s fine flavor and low price makes it a particularly good value. — Specialty cuts – Other cuts that can be good on the grill include the flank, skirt and Tri Tip (AKA Newport). Steak Grilling TipsHigh, Dry HeatQuality beefsteaks should always be cooked with dry heat and never sautéed, braised or simmered. While braising is perfect for heavily used muscles such as the chuck, it can be ruinous to the lightly used muscles of the loin and rib. For the best steaks, avoid liquid marinades and grill with high heat. This evaporates moisture as it browns, maximizing flavor and texture. Resting
Once removed from the grill, steaks continue to cook and rise about 10 degrees in internal temperature. Resting your steak after grilling allows juices to settle as the steak finishes cooking. For instance, if you remove your steak at medium-rare, cover with foil and rest for 10 minutes before serving, it will turn out about medium and retain a greater percentage of its natural juices. Don’t pierce a steakPoking a steak with a mechanical tenderizer or a fork allows valuable juices to escape during cooking, robbing a steak of juiciness and flavor. Finger poking to perfectionGrill chefs usually rely on a practiced sense of feel to judge a steak’s doneness. Try it. With practice, you’ll be able to judge a steak quickly and accurately. Poke the steak with your finger from time to time as it cooks. The more done it is, the firmer it becomes. How to get those perfect frill marksNote: Grill marks are dependent on a heavy grilling grid and a barbecue that can achieve high heat.Preheat barbecue on highest setting, brush grate clean and then mist or wipe with oil. Immediately place steak on the oiled portion of your cooking grate and leave it alone for about three minutes. Now rotate the steak 45 to 90 degrees and place the same side down on a new, hot portion of the grate for three more minutes.Reduce grill temperature to medium, turn steaks over and cook to desired level of doneness. Rest and serve with crosshatch pattern facing up.
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