When it comes to steaks, get to know your butcher… it will pay off at dinner.
Tenderloin: Medallions or filets are cut from the loin section and are the leanest, most tender steaks. Sometimes they are wrapped in bacon to add flavour and keep them juicy while grilling. Be careful not to overcook them: they will become dry and tasteless.
Strip loin: Strip loin grilling steaks and medallions are cut from the loin section. Though not as tender as tenderloin, they are much more flavourful (in fact, many consider them the tastiest cut). These often appear on restaurants menus as New York strip steak.
T-bone: The T-shaped bone is cut from the centre of the short loin. It has tenderloin on one side of the bone and strip loin on the other. Because the meat is cooked on the bone, both sides deliver great flavour.
Porterhouse: Similar looking to T-bones, porterhouse steaks are cut from the large end of the short loin and yield a larger piece of tenderloin. Porterhouse steak takes careful cooking because the two sides cook slightly differently. Sear it over high heat then finish it at moderate heat.
Top sirloin: Top sirloin is a large steak (usually 2 to 3 inches/5 to 8 cm thick) and makes an attractive presentation when grilled whole and sliced to serve four or more. Be careful not to overcook.
Rib eye: This tender steak has a fine-textured centre portion known as a "rib eye," which should be delicately marbled. When done to medium or medium-rare the rib eye packs a lot of flavour.
Flank: These Steaks, best when marinated, contain enough fat to maintain a little tenderness. These lean, somewhat tough but flavourful cuts benefit from standing in an acidic-based mixture for 4 to 24 hours to tenderize them.
They are best when grilled to medium-rare and thinly sliced across the grain.
Season steaks right before or after cooking. Don't season them too far ahead because salt leaches out the juice. To season steaks, you need nothing more than salt and pepper. However, flavourful spice rubs, pan sauces or compound butter can enhance steaks.
For perfect grill marks, cook steaks for half the recommended time, rotating once at 45-degree angle, then flip and finish cooking.
Quality Steaks - 3 things to look for
Aging - Aging beef significantly increases tenderness. The term "aging" simply means the length of time the beef cut is stored under controlled conditions of temperature and humidity before being packaged for the meat counter.
Note: beef cannot be safely aged in a home refrigerator.
Marbling - For the most flavourful steaks, look for meat that is well marbled with fine white streaks of fat running through lean beef. Marbling increases the tenderness, juiciness and flavour of steak.
Grading - According to Canada's Beef Information Centre, grading refers to eating-quality and, unlike inspection, is a completely voluntary system in Canada. Once beef has been inspected and meets the Canadian food safety standards, it can be graded for its eating quality.
Grill Like A Pro
Professional chefs generally use touch to tell when steaks are done.
Press centre of steak with your finger.
• Rare steak feels quite soft to the touch.
• Medium-rare steak has some resistance but yields to the touch.
• Medium steak starts to feel firm but still has some give in centre.
• Well-done steak feels very firm.