The Good News: Perfection is Relative
What does it really mean to create a perfectly cooked steak? Only you can answer that, because perfection is in the eye (and mouth) of the lucky eater. “Perfectly” cooked beef is an equation of these variables: amount of cooking (doneness) + flavor + food safety = perfect steak experience. Your palate will tell you when you’ve found the perfect steak. But the tips below may get you closer to achieving your steak masterpiece.
- TENDERNESS: Let the Cut Determine the Cooking
The number one reason that steak may not be tender or flavorful is that we choose the wrong cooking method. It’s important to remember that meat composition is approximately 72% water, so cooking is really about managing moisture loss. Marrying the cut with the perfect cooking method means determining which grade of the cut you are going to buy—Prime, Choice, or Select—and then considering the type of heat (moist/dry; direct/indirect), marinades or other applications to tenderize or add flavor, and knowing which flavors ultimately enhance the flavor of your cut.
- FLAVOR: Kari’s Top 10 Flavors for Steak
For Select or Choice grades of steak, a good marinade, rub, or spice paste can be a huge boost. These flavors enhancers, when formulated with an acid—like citrus juice, yogurt, or wine—or an enzyme—like papaya or fresh ginger—can also tenderize your steak. Certain ingredients go particularly well with the natural flavors of beef, because they enhance the umami flavor. Include them in your marinade, rub or spice paste, or serve side dishes containing them for a great combination of flavors.
- Wine (mainly red)*
- Soy Sauce*
* enhances natural umami flavor of beef
- DONENESS: It’s Done When It’s…
A dried out, tough, overcooked steak—especially an expensive Prime or local pasture raised cut—is a complete waste. Use this guide to doneness and a thermometer to prevent a tragedy. And in using your thermometer, make sure you remove your steak from the heat 5° to 10° before it reaches the desired level of doneness. It will continue to cook even after being removed from the heat. Then, as the fibers of the meat start to cool, they will relax and get stronger, thereby better retaining the natural juices. If you cut your steak too soon after cooking it, the steak’s juices will come flowing out. Of course the amount of time to rest depends on the size of the meat. For steaks, 10 minutes usually does the trick. Please note the grass or pasture raised beef tends to cook a bit faster, do not leave your grill for long!
MEDIUM RARE 145ºF
WELL DONE 170ºF
- NUTRITION: Steak is Good Food
Beef is natures multi-vitamin! Beef is rich with important nutrients and protein. The acronym “ZIP+B” is an easy way to remember the most important nutrients found in beef: Zinc, Iron, Protein and the B-vitamins. To get the equivalent nutrition in 3 oz. of cooked beef, you’d better be hungry, because here’s what you’d need to eat:
Zinc = 40 oz. of salmon
B12 = 22 oz. skinless chicken
Iron = 2 3/4 cups of raw spinach
Riboflavin = 13 1/2 oz. white tuna meat
B6 = 6 1/2 cups raw spinach
- PORTION: The biggest small change you can make
Many people think they have to eat organic, grass-fed beef to make a difference, but what if that isn’t available near your home and you still want to help the environment? The biggest small change you can make that really adds up is eating the right portion size.
The recommended serving of protein at one meal is 4 ounces raw (3 ounces cooked). That’s about the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand. If you eat the right amount, you can buy less meat. Slowing down the pace of animal production because of lower demand helps the environment. The added bonus is in helping your waist-line: you’ll be reducing your calorie intake if you eat the right portion size.
Be your #butchersbestfriend. Ask for my favorite cuts.
- Beef Ribeye Cap Steak whole. Grill and cut across the grain.
- Prime Dry-aged Ribeye Filet. Use a two step cooking method. Caramelize filets in a pan and finish in the oven.
- Picanha – Top Sirloin Cap Roast. Cook indirect on the grill, cut across the grain and enjoy!
- Berkshire Pork Tomahawk Chop. Use a two step cooking method. Caramelize chops in a pan and finish in the oven.
- Farm Roast spatchcocked chicken. Cook indirect on the grill
- Bottom Sirloin Bavette flap. Marinate for flavor, grill and cut across the grain.
- Lamb Top Sirloin Chops. Simply grill, cooks in just a few minutes.
- Bison Burger. I like medium to medium rare!
- Flat Iron Steak. I have to have this one on the list, I helped introduce this cut to the market place.
- Pasture raised Pork Pluma. This is the whole short rib muscle like you would cut from a beef. This is an amazing cut, ask you local butcher for this one.
Now that you have Kari’s tips, butcher like a pro with her favorite knives, Victorinox Cutlery! Kari’s favorite knives and tools for butchering are:
- Victorinox 8″ Curved Breaking Knife, Rosewood Handle
- Victorinox 6″ Semi-Stiff Boning Knife, Rosewood Handle
- Victorinox Curved Granton Edge Cimeter, Rosewood Handle
- Victorinox 12″ Straight Butcher Knife, Rosewood Handle
- Victorinox 7″ Meat Cleaver
- Victorinox Performance Shield Cut Resistant Gloves
- 12″ Round Honing Steel, Combination Cut Black Plastic Handle
Want to take a Master Class with Kari and learn more about Cutting & Preparing Grass-Fed Beef? Kari will be at the Boston Public Market this Sunday, April 24th from 1-5pm. Details below, click here to register.
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