When it comes to eating and enjoying steak everyone has their own preferences which can make it hard to know how you should order YOUR steak. It’s important to understand what you like and what you want in a steak, but if you’re new to eating steak this can become very confusing.
We have put together a few bits of steak knowledge so you can order like a pro next time you are at Steak Loft. Specifically, we’re going to go focus on the doneness and cut of steaks, because these are the two main things seen on a restaurant menu.
If you’re new to trying steak or unclear what type of steak you actually like, just try a few different selections and cooking methods. You do not need to order the same ole steak time and time again or the steak that the person next to you just ordered. There’s a big wide steak world out there for your eating pleasure, so test it out and take advantage!
This category is probably the one most familiar to people. Doneness refers to how much the steak is cooked through (internal temperature) and is characterized by how red or pink the inside of the steak is when you cut into it. There are five main doneness categories:
- medium rare
- medium well
- well done
Rare means the outside is seared and cooked, but the inside is mostly red, soft, and partially raw. This means the center of the meat will actually be a little cool (as compared to other levels of doneness). The internal temperature will be between 125 and 130 degrees.
Medium Rare means the outside is seared and cooked, but the inside temperature is a little higher. The inside meat is about half red and a little firmer, and the internal temperature will be between 130 and 140 degrees.
Medium means the outside is seared and cooked, but the inside has a more pink center and is firm. The internal temperature is between 140 and 150 degrees.
Medium Well means the outside is seared and cooked, but there is only the slightest bit of pink in the center. A medium-well steak is almost cooked all the way through, and the internal temperature is between 150 and 155 degrees.
A Well-Done Steak is seared on the outside and cooked all the way through. There should not be any hint of pink in the steak at all, and the internal temperature is 160 degrees or over.
Choosing the correct doneness is truly based on an individual’s taste and texture preferences because some people do not like the more raw flavors and feeling in their mouth. However, many chefs and steak connoisseurs will say that medium rare provides the best steak flavor. Medium rare also allows the steak to retain its juiciness, whereas a more cooked steak tends to be a drier piece of meat.
A cow is a big animal, so there are many different cuts of meat for a steak. There are five that are the most popular in restaurants though:
- Ribeye or Tomahawk
- Filet Mignon or Tenderloin
- New York Strip or Kansas City Steak
Ribeye Steak comes from the rib section of a cow and has a higher fat content when compared to other cuts. This fat gives it the distinct marbling effect and makes it extremely tender and flavorful.
Filet mignon Steak comes from the tenderloin part of a cow, and only a few of these cuts come from a single animal, so it’s a more expensive cut. Filet mignons are the most tender cut, and people describe them as almost buttery in texture. This cut has a fairly mild flavor, and in many restaurants, you will find chefs wrapping filet mignon in bacon.
New York Strip Steak comes from the top of the short loin behind the cow’s ribs. It is usually cut with a layer of fat around one edge and has a level of marbling (though not as much as a ribeye). This is a solid cut of meat that is also tender and flavorful, and many people prefer it grilled.
T-bone Steak has the iconic bone down the middle and is actually two types of meat in one cut. A -bone is a New York strip on one side and a tenderloin on the other. Due to the bone, this steak is often cooked best at medium or lower because the bone does not allow for a fully even doneness.
Sirloin Steaks are extremely popular because of their affordability, but they are less tender. They come from the top of a cow’s back and do not have a lot of fat. Oftentimes, sirloins are marinated overnight or tenderized to help add flavor and more texture.