Steak is one of the classiest items you can order off the menu at a restaurant. If you’re on a date with your special someone, or if your whole family is having dinner at the best steakhouse in Abu Dhabi, and steak is on the table, then there certainly must be something wonderful being celebrated or honored.
Perhaps, what adds to steak’s appeal or allure is all the care and attention being poured over it.
Compared to, say, a pasta dish, which will typically be brought to your table with all the sauce ingredients already mixed into the pasta, and will be prepared and garnished the same way every time, with steak, you will be asked about the level of doneness in which you want it to be cooked. You will have a variety of sides, sauces, rubs or crusts to choose from to complement your steak. And your server (or even the chef) may come by the table during the night to ask how you are enjoying your steak.
Needless to say, a perfectly cooked steak will always be the star at your table.
Eager to discover what makes steak an essential part of a truly great meal? Here are four important things you should know about this celebrated dish.
- Popular Cuts of Steak
- Top Sirloin
Top sirloin is often the most affordable cut of steak on restaurant menus. Because it is considerably leaner than other cuts (less fat marbling means less flavor), marinating it is one of the best ways to impart flavor.
While not officially a steak, flank steak is often included in restaurant menus because its large size is sufficient for feeding large parties (you’ll find it sliced into thin serving pieces). It certainly deserves a place at the table despite being a tougher cut of beef, because while it may contain connective tissue from being taken from the lower part of a cow’s body, it is much more flavorful than leaner cuts.
So-called because of the T-shaped bone found in the middle, a T-bone steak gives you two different cuts of beef on either side of the bone in one plate: tenderloin and New York strip. If you prefer your steak on the rare side, this is a good choice as this level of doneness suits the cut perfectly.
- Beef Tenderloin
Which cut is the filet mignon, you ask? That’s the beef tenderloin. The part of the cow where this cut is taken from does hardly any work; what does that mean for you? It means that this cut is only slightly marbled and may have hardly any flavor, but it is also the most tender steak. This special-occasion steak is often grilled while being wrapped in bacon.
- New York Strip
This cut has the best of both worlds: it is tender while also having good marbling, which means it comes with plenty of great juicy flavor.
This is considered the top steak cut overall thanks to having the most fat (and therefore the most flavor and juiciness).
- Steak’s Nutritional Value
Steaks aren’t just delicious — they also deliver a number of important nutrients that are good for the body.
Red meat is a top source of protein, the critical nutrient for building muscle and aiding in its recovery. Beef also contains high levels of vitamin B-12 and iron which enrich blood cells as well as boost your immunity.
For the best nutrition, health experts recommend choosing lean meat over fattier parts. The US Department of Agriculture categorizes a cut of beef as lean if a 100 g serving weighing 3.5 oz has 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 g saturated fat and 95 mg of cholesterol.
Of course, proper portions should also be observed: according to the American Heart Association, the recommended amount of lean meat consumption per day is 6oz.
Generally, the lean and extra-lean steak cuts include the eye of round roast and steak, sirloin tip side steak, top round roast a steak, bottom round roast and steak, and top sirloin steak.
- Best Ways to Cook Steak
A well-cooked steak can deliver a dining experience unlike any other. Of course, different people have different preferences for their steak, which is why top chefs always share tips and guidelines for achieving the kind of doneness and flavor you desire for your meat.
Here are the most reliable tips for cooking steak:
- Season well
After you’ve chosen your preferred cut, the crucial step in cooking a wonderful steak is to season it sufficiently. The steak should be generously rubbed with salt and freshly ground pepper. Allow time for it to rest before cooking to let the seasoning work its way through the meat. Other spices can also be added for bolder flavors.
- Always use high heat
Steaks are typically seared in cast-iron pans or grilled; whichever way you go, make sure the surface is very hot. High heat caramelizes the outside of your steak and helps seal in all the flavor and juices in the meat. It’s also ideal for creating that delicious crispiness on the outside and tenderness on the inside.
- Get the temperature right
Rather than taking a guess, be certain about the internal temperature of your steak by using a meat thermometer. The levels of doneness are:
- Rare (125 F)
- Medium-rare (130-135 F)
- Medium (140-145 F)
- Medium-well (150 F)
- Let it rest
This is very important! Once the preferred doneness is reached, take the steak off the heat and allow it to rest on a surface before cutting into it. This retains the juices and allows them to redistribute in the meat so it stays tender. If you slice too early, the juices will run out and you’ll be left with a tough piece of steak.
- Top it with the right additions
While good on its own, a steak will always taste much better with the right additions. If you want to go the simpler route, letting a slab of butter melt over a hot steak is enough to impart great flavor, but there are also many other additions you can choose to amp up your steak.
- Sides That Pair Best with Steak
To complement the flavors of your steak, choose to eat it with any of the following popular sides:
- Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Garlic Butter Potatoes
- Scalloped Potatoes
- Roasted Assorted Vegetables
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Cauliflower Bake
- Tangy Coleslaw
- Dill and Cucumber Salad
- Broccoli Salad
- Glazed Carrots
Whether you and your partner are celebrating your anniversary, your sibling or best friend is treating you to dinner thanks to a recent promotion, or the family is gathered in the backyard for a weekend of grilling, steaks always take centerstage on the menu.
Use the helpful information shared here to learn more about steaks so you can order, or even cook, the best steak ever, every single time.