We partnered with Chef Phillip to curate the ultimate guide for cooking our classic cuts of 100% grass-fed and finished steak. The classics are the ribeye, filet, New York strip, and sirloin steaks. Our focus will be on the different characteristics of each, why these characteristics are important when choosing a steak and a cooking technique, and then a walkthrough of the different cooking techniques available for each cut.
Characteristics of Each Cut
The Ribeye is one of the fattiest steaks and is cut from the 7 Bone Rib, which has a good bit of fat marbling. The amount of work that the midsection does for the cow is really minimal. Most of the work for these large animals happens in the shoulders, the rump, and the cheeks. The high-fat content ensures that the steak is going to be juicy and the low amount of exertion for that particular muscle allows for a pretty tender steak, which makes the ribeye the favorite of most steak eaters. However, some diners would prefer a leaner steak.
The New York Strip
The NY Strip comes from the Long Loin primal just behind the Rib section. This primal is divided into the short loin, which is where the NY strip comes from. While the strip is a bit less tender than the ribeye due to a little more movement happening in that area near the cow’s hips, it is also a leaner cut, but not by too much.
The sirloin, which comes from the muscle found at the junction of the hip and the beginning of the rump, is much leaner compared to the New York Strip and a bit tougher because that section of the cow sees a lot of action.
Then there is the filet, which comes from the tenderloin. The tenderloin is also cut from the short loin area but it is tucked beneath the ribs and runs parallel with the vertebrae. This muscle contributes little work to the cow’s movement and thus it is very tender. There is little fat content, but the filet will have some marbling. The filet is very popular due to it being so lean and still tender. Most lean cuts will usually be tough because they are overworked, but the filet really has the best of both worlds.
Cooking for Each Cut
All steaks benefit from high heat cooking. High temperatures aid in creating the Maillard reaction, which is a chemical reaction that occurs between amino proteins and reducing sugars due to a high heat catalyst. The result is the deep brown crust that gives the steak an appealing appearance and a delicious depth of flavor. The three most common high heat techniques are searing, grilling, and broiling. All four of these steak cuts will have positive results with any of these techniques:
Using a charcoal or gas grill to cook steaks can yield some delicious results. The high heat and char from the open flame add another layer of flavor to the steak. One thing to be mindful of is that the high-fat content, particularly on the outer edge of the steak and the fat lip at the nose of the steak can cause a flare-up in the open flame grill, which can create some undesirable bitterness beyond the normal char flavors that result from grilling. Depending on how thick the steak is cut, it may be necessary to move it from direct to indirect heat until the desired internal temperature is met.
Pan searing or griddling is a very effective method of cooking for steaks, especially the ribeye. The high-fat content renders beautifully with this method. Cast iron is great for searing because it heats evenly and can conduct high heat. It is best to heat a cast iron pan on medium heat and let it preheat for a couple of minutes. Cast iron can overheat quickly, and then you will have a highly charred outer layer and a mostly raw steak. Ribeyes eat best cooked between medium rare and medium so that the fat can render enough to be pleasantly edible. Too low of heat and the ribeye will take too long to reach the perfect sear and then the inside will cook too much, causing the meat to be tough. Adding whole sprigs of herbs and butter to the skillet at the end of cooking will add another element to the flavor and amber the seared crust of the steak.
Broiling is a great method for thicker steaks. Using the high heat function of the oven is very effective in getting a great outer crust. Brush the steaks with a good bit of oil and turn them every so often to evenly crust both sides of the steak. Check the temp with every turn so the steaks don’t go over the desired temperature. Depending on the oven and the placement of the rack, broiling can take a few minutes or up to 20 minutes. Place your oven rack on the top rack if you want a faster broil, or lower it one or two levels if you want a slower broil. The closer to the broiler, the deeper the crust.
Whether you’re cooking for the entire family in the backyard or searing up a steak for one in the kitchen, these cooking tips are a great way to learn the foundational skills of cooking grass-fed and finished beef steaks. Interested in learning more about grass-fed and finished beef, check out our blog post here.
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