Tips on How to Buy Steaks

The average Irish person loves meat and it is usually a family favourite. My weakness is Steak. Some of my customers continually ask me what cut of meat would be best for a particular dish so I have decided to give some pointers on buying Steak and other cuts of Beef.

The number one tip I give customers is that a good butcher will be happy to answer any questions you may have, so ask! They should be knowledgeable about the various grades, cuts, how they should be cooked, and the provenance of the meat – was it reared on organic feed, grass-fed or factory farmed etc? The Grade of meat refers to the age, marbling, colour, and texture of the meat and will also be a determining factor in the price.

“We are what we eat” so another important factor a conscientious consumer might want to take into consideration is how the meat was reared? Know what the labelling means:

  • Grain-Fed: All cattle graze in the pasture for the first part of their lives, but grain-fed stock are then moved to feedlots where they’re fattened up on a concentrated mix of corn, soy, grains, and other supplements, plus hormones and antibiotics to prevent illnesses. Grain-fed cattle yield more tender (fatty) meat, and will usually cost less than organic, natural, and grass-fed, but you have to weigh the pros against all the other things they’ve ingested when choosing what’s right for you, and your family.
  • Natural: Means hormone and anti-biotic free. Much like an athlete who takes hormones to bulk up,  grain-fed cattle are given hormones to bulk them up faster for slaughter. This is done purely to increase the profit. Likewise, antibiotics are given to prevent illness – lessening the risk of having to put a sick cow down (and not be able to sell it). How many times have you heard your doctor say “you shouldn’t take antibiotics unless absolutely necessary, or you might become anti-biotic resistant when you really need them.” Do you really want to ingest them in your meat? There is absolutely no health advantage to you eating these chemicals, and there could quite possibly be health risks to you in the long term.
  • Grass-fed: Cattle graze entirely on grass as they were biologically meant to do. That means it’s better for the cow, and better for the environment. Grass is easier on their digestive system so they don’t emit as much ozone damaging methane gas, and less fuel is used in producing their feed.

 

Cuts of Beef
Finally, understanding the difference between the cuts helps in making your selection too, and this really boils down to personal preference.

Beef for Roasting – Sirloin, fore rib, fillet

Beef for Pot Roasting- Topside, silverside, brisket, thick flank.

Beef for Stewing and Braising – Chuck, shin, brisket, flank, neck, topside, silverside. (These cuts are also suitable for salting and boiling.)

Beef for Pies – Chuck, brisket, thick flank, shin (foreleg), shin or leg (hind leg).

If you want to serve steak you want to avoid all cuts that require a slow-cooking process to tenderize the meat. The most common cuts for steak are:

  • Fillet Mignon comes from the tenderloin, or most tender cut of beef. It also has very little fat, so it is a great option if you are watching your weight.
  • T-Bones & Porterhouse steaks are cut from both the striploin and tenderloin, so it’s like getting best of both worlds
  • Ribeye’s are a big steak house favourite because they have a lot of fat yielding flavour
  • Sirloin is another lower fat option, generally a more cost effective cut of meat with plenty of flavour, but can be on the tough side.

Beef is a great source of protein and iron. Making informed choices will help you decide what is right for you.

Roasted Garlic & Chili Rub

This versatile rub is an outstanding on any kind of beef, chicken, pork or shrimp. I sometimes find garlic already roasted at the store, which does save time, but it is very simple to do – just check out my note below. Any extra can be saved and used up to 5 days covered and refrigerated, but in my household it goes quickly.

Servings: 8

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes


Ingredients

Roasted Garlic & Chili Rub

  • 1 whole head garlic roasted and squeezed out of its paper like exterior
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil


Directions

Roasted Garlic & Chili Rub

  1. Squeeze roasted garlic out of it’s skins into a small bowl. Add chili powder, brown sugar, oregano and salt. Slowly add the olive oil, mixing into a paste consistency.

Serving Suggestions
Serve the rubbed and grilled beef, pork, chicken, shrimp or fish with mashed potatoes and simple grilled vegetables.

Heat To Eat
I like to rub my meat, poultry or seafood and store until I am ready to grill and eat; but you could also heat already cooked meats in the microwave on 50% power to heat without cooking further, for 3-5 minutes, turning midway to distribute heat evenly.

Notes
To roast the garlic: Preheat oven to 200°C. Cut a 4-inch square piece of foil and place on a sheet pan. Peel the papery outer layer of a head of garlic off, leaving the skins on. Cut 1/2-inch off of the top of the head of garlic. Place the larger piece of garlic on the square of foil on a sheet pan (save the rest for another use). Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over the top coating well. Wrap the foil loosely around the head of garlic and roast in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the garlic is soft and squishy when you squeeze it. Store any excess garlic in an airtight container coating the garlic in olive oil for up to one week.