The best Steaks to Grill
Now that barbecue season is in full steam many people’s thoughts turn to the best steaks to grill on their barbecue so that they can serve juicy, flavoursome and tender meat to their guests. While taking a lot of time on choosing the best seasoning or marinade for their steaks just how much time do people take on choosing the best steak for grilling.
Of course, personal taste will dictate these choices to a certain extent but there are some key factors to remember when choosing the best steak to cook on the grill. It is important to think not only about the cut of steak but also the grade of the beef, the aging of the meat and also the thickness of it. Taking a little time to find out about the aging, best cut, grade and thickness of steak for grilling will be rewarded in your finished results.
The first factor to be considered when choosing your steak is the fat content in it. Although most of us are trying to cut down on fat and eat a healthy diet it is important to have a good marbling in the steak (this is some thin strips of fat running through it) as it is actually this fat that adds the flavour to the finished steak. This fact is proven with a steak which does tend to be very popular on barbecues, sirloin steak. Because sirloin steak is relatively inexpensive and looks really red and lean many people choose it for their grills; but because sirloin is so lean it is not the best cut of steak to choose as the low fat content and lack of marbling in it means that the end result tends to be a dryer and tougher steak.
In general, the best steaks to grill are fillet (or tenderloin), porterhouse or t-bone steaks – however, these steaks come at a price and not everyone can afford to pay these high prices for their barbecues. These steaks all have a healthy but adequate amount of fat in them to ensure a juicy and tender steak (so long as you do not cook the steak for too long!) They come from the parts of the cow that does the least amount of work making them far more tender (but expensive!). T-bone and porterhouse steaks both come on a T shaped bone and have a larger strip steak or sirloin on one side and tenderloin or fillet on the other; porterhouse steaks are cut from the rear end and include more fillet steak than the T-bones which are cut from farther forward. As with most meats and poultry these steaks are particularly good grilled on the bone adding more flavour to the finished steak.
However, if you are looking for a less expensive cut of steak that will taste good without breaking the bank rib eye steaks are a good alternative. Despite the name which implies this steak comes on a rib bone, rib-eye is actually a boneless cut. (Although there is a similar cut called a rib steak which is attached to the bone) This cut of steak is cut from the rib section of the cow, between the 6th and 12th ribs. This is a particularly good steak to grill due to the excellent amount of marbling it contains, thanks to the exercise it has had from its position on the beast.
Topside, silverside and round steaks are not the best choices for grilling as they are very lean meats and the lack of fat leads to a far tougher finished steak. However these are fine used for dicing in kebabs etc where a marinade can help to add moisture to the steak.
Beef grading is voluntary and many supermarkets and butchers do grade their beef to help with customers choices. The grading is actually based on the amount of marbling there is throughout the meat.
The best is the ‘prime beef’- this is steak which is heavily marbled, this meat is very expensive and the least common grade found in shops. This grade of steak is perfect for grilling.
The next grade is the ‘choice beef’, this is the most common and far more affordable than the prime and it contains a moderate amount of marbling. This grade is fine for grilling and will give good finished results.
Finally there is the ‘select beef’ grading; although this is much leaner the reduced amount of marbling in it means that steaks grilled from this grade will be tougher, drier and have far less flavour than the previous two grades.
Knowing just how long steaks have been aged is probably the least known aspect that consumers look at when purchasing steaks, but it is extremely important to the choice of steak. There are two methods of aging – dry aging and wet aging. Dry aging should take least 10 to 14 days. This process requires the joints of meat from which the steak is cut to be hung at virtually freezing temperatures; this reduces the moisture in the meat resulting in more tender meat. Wet aging is the process more widely used by supermarkets; in this process meat is stored in vacuum-sealed bags before refrigerating for 7 days. This is a less expensive method of aging but does not give as much flavour and tenderness as the dry aging process.
A good butcher will be able to tell you just how long and how your steak has been aged,
The last factor to consider in the choice of steak for grilling is the thickness of the steak. A thick steak will help to keep the meat from drying out too quickly or overcooking resulting in a far juicier and tasty cut of meat.
Never pick a steak that is less than ¾ of an inch thick, however for best results choose a good thick steak between 1 to 1 ½ inches thick.
Finally when you grill your ideal steak there are a few easy techniques that ensure you don’t end up with piece of steak that resembles a piece of old boot!
Always choose steaks of an even thickness and remove any excess fat from the edges. To avoid the steak curling up during the grilling process makes small cuts on the edges of each steak. If the steak has been kept in the refrigerator, leave enough time to leave the steak out so that it returns to room temperature before grilling. When cooking always ear the meat for 1 minute each side to firm the surface and retain the natural meat juices; never use a fork for turning your steak and turn it only once during the cooking process. Turn the meat only once and remember to use tongs NEVER a fork.
Enjoy you barbecue and your succulent steaks!