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We hear it all the time, The way to a man's heart is through his stomach. So why, when Father's Day rolls around, do we buy endless ties and "message" T-shirts? Is the way to his heart through his clothes? Not likely. It's the stomach, people, and that means good food. For many men, good food comes in the form of a great steak.
So what if you're not a steak eater, or you eat it only in restaurants, and the thought of purchasing a raw slab scares you to death? Fear not. It's not that complicated, really. Even a caveman can handle this job.
It's essential to know your cuts of meat before planning the menu. You don't want to cook the dad in your life a flat, tough piece of leather. You might not notice the difference, but let's face it - he will. Since you'll likely be grilling, it's essential to know the best cuts of meat for the grill.
You want to choose the most tender portions of meat for grilling. Experts generally consider these cuts of beef to be the best for grilling:
- Rib Eye
- Strip steak (like New York steak)
If there is the word "loin" on the package, you're in good shape, though most grill experts agree the T-bone is the most superior cut of beef for grilling. It stays tender and juicy and is thick enough to withstand a fair amount of time on the grill without overcooking. Stay away from top round or anything with "round" or "chuck" in the name. These will not cook well on the grill. Flank steak and London broil can also be hard to chew.
Next, it's essential to know how to choose a steak. Don't just grab the first package that looks good to you. Look for some good marbling in the steak. Yes, this is another word for fat. But we're not cooking for the dieter in the family on this, dads special day, we're trying to give dad a good steak, remember? Those little bits of fat scattered about the steak will melt while the meat is cooking, giving the meat a rich and more tender flavor.
In that same vein, don't trim the fat from your steak before cooking. It might be the diet book author in you coming out, but that thick layer of fat around your steak is what will give the steak a fantastic juicy quality and rich flavor. You can cook the steak, and then trim the fat, but cook the steak while it's still dressed in its fat clothes. It's worth it.
Do you need to buy a "name brand" steak? Experts say it's not necessary, even though branded meat is a new commodity and becoming more widely available. Nor is it essential to choose a steak from a butcher shop or from behind the glass window in the meat department at your local grocery store. Usually, the pre-packaged steaks are the same you would get from behind the glass, and since the butcher is a dying breed, you could certainly go that route if you have a neighborhood butcher, but if not, a good quality grocery store will provide what you need.
Finally, it's essential to know your grades of steak.
- Prime is the top grade, and it features the most marbling and is the most tender, but most of us don't have access to this grade in mainstream grocery stores. This is often what you get in a restaurant.
- The choice is the best grade most of us can get in the grocery store. But choice does not guarantee high quality as this grade encompasses meat that can be almost as good as prime, or nearly as bad as select, our next class.
- Select beef is the leanest and least expensive beef and is the grade of beef most commonly found in your grocery store meat case. Since this is Father's Day, try to find choice and splurge a little.