Medium Rare, Please

When it comes to steak, do you love the taste but get confused when it comes to choosing your own from the store?  It can be difficult to know what to get so I thought I would try to break it down for you all and make it easier for those of us that may not know what we are looking at.

Filet mignon is a staple at elite steakhouses across the country.  This is top of the line and usually the most expensive.  This is also by far one of the most tender cuts of steak.  This muscle does very little work for the cow so it results in a fall apart, super tender, buttery textured steak. However, it has very little fat so if you like the juiciness of a good steak, you may want to look elsewhere. You may also find it under the names tender steak, beer tenderloin or tenderloin steak.

Ribeye is a coveted piece of meat.  You can get it in boneless or with the rib still intact (which is typically called a cowboy steak). Ribeye is marbled with fat and sometimes includes a fat cap around the edge as well.  This makes it a super juicy steak that is still tender, but has enough chew to remind you, you are eating a piece of meat. 

New York strip is a solid, decent piece of beef.  It has less marbling so not quite as much flavor as the ribeye, and is not quite as melt in your mouth as the filet, but it has good flavor with just a little more chew than that of the ribeye.  The best part about it is the price makes this a better option for eating a bit more often. It may also be listed as a sirloin steak.

The porterhouse and T-bone steaks are two steaks in one.  The difference between the two is traditionally just in which one has the bigger side of the filet.  It gets its name from the t-shaped bone that separates two sections of meat.  One side is the tender filet mignon and the other side is the New York strip steak.  The porterhouse has a bigger filet mignon than the T-bone does.  It can be tricky to cook either though because the filet side is prone to overcooking.  

Flank steak is part of the hardest working pieces of the cow.  They tend to be tougher pieces of meat, especially if cooked wrong.  This steak is most often fileted or stripped and made into fajitas or Philly cheesesteaks. This tends to be a larger piece of meat though and often you can get more servings from it. 

There are four basic categories when it comes to cooking steak.  Rare is seared on the outside and typically still cool on the inside as it was barely cooked.  It has lots of blood and is still really red inside.  Medium rare steaks have a seared, brown outside and a reddish pink inside. It is soft and juicy on the inside and firm on the outside.  There may still be some blood.  A medium cooked steak is more of a gray-brown color with a pink band in the center. They rarely have any blood, but is still juicy. A medium well steak has only a hit of a pale pink left in the inside and is gray-brown throughout.  This is perfect for people that want a slightly juicy steak without any blood. Well done is cooked thoroughly and can even have a charred outside. They have a grayish-brown color throughout with no sign of pink. They are cooked on a slow heat to keep the steak from becoming tough. But really why anyone eats a steak this way is beyond me.

When it comes to cooking and flavoring the recipes below, do it to your taste.  I like medium rare steak with some seasoning but little else.  I like to taste the flavor of the steak.  I cooked all of my steak first and then sliced to assemble my meals because I like it a little more rare.  If you don’t care or prefer well done, freeze your steak slightly while raw to make it easier to cut.  Then, cook as desired.  When you cook your steak, no matter how you like it, let it rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing if you are going to cook like I did.  This will allow most of the juices to remain in your steak.  Make your grocery list and meet me in the kitchen for easy, light recipes featuring steak!


Steak Sandwich

2 Tbsps. unsalted butter

½ onion, sliced

2lbs steak, you can easily go with flank steak here as you are slicing it super thin and placing it on a sandwich.

Seasoning as desired, I used Head Country

Cheese of choice, I used both Swiss and American

Hoagie buns

Sauce, as desired-I used a little Dijon mustard

In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat.  When butter is sizzling, add onions.  Cook onions 3-5 minutes or until soft.  Remove onions to covered dish to keep warm.  Season steaks as desired on both sides.  Cook steak 2-3 minutes on each side.  Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes.  Slice as thinly as you can.  Preheat oven to 350°F and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Open hoagie buns and assemble sandwich as desired.  I used Swiss cheese on bottom, topped with onions.  Then, layered steak and topped with American cheese.  Bake 5 minutes to melt cheese and lightly toast bread.  Add sauce and enjoy!


Steak Fajitas

½ tsp chili powder

1 tsp ground cumin

pinch cayenne pepper

½ tsp paprika

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

2 Tbsps. real unsalted butter

1 yellow pepper, deseeded and sliced into thin strips

1 medium onion, peeled and sliced into thin strips

2lbs steak

6-8 tortillas, warmed

Sour cream, shredded cheese, guacamole, etc. for garnish as desired

Combine first 7 ingredients in small bowl.  Mix well to combine.  Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat.  Add vegetables to skillet and sprinkle with prepared seasoning.  Cook 5-7 minutes or until soft as desired.  Season steak as desired.  Remove vegetables to covered dish to keep warm and add steak to same skillet.  Cook 2 minutes on each side for medium rare, depending on the size of the steak.  Remove steak from skillet and let rest for 5 minutes.  Slice steak into thin strips.  Assemble fajitas. I lightly warm the tortillas in skillet, then layer sour cream, vegetables, steak and cheese on top. 


Steak Salad

1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped or shredded

2lbs steak

Seasoning as desired, I used Head Country

1 tomato, diced

½ onion, diced

Shredded cheese

Avocado, pitted, peeled and sliced

Dressing of choice, I used a strawberry vinaigrette

Season steak on both sides.  Cook steak as desired.  If you want to use a grill, go for it.  I did mine in a skillet.  In large skillet over medium heat, cook steak 2 minutes on each side.  Remove steak from skillet and allow to rest 5 minutes.  Slice or dice steak as desired.  Assemble salad by placing lettuce in bowl.  Add tomatoes, onion and cheese.  Toss lightly.  Top with steak and avocado.  Add dressing and enjoy.  Delicious!


Steak Street Tacos

2lbs steak

Seasoning as desired, I used with taco seasoning

½ medium onion, diced

¼ bunch parsley, chopped

1 lime, sliced

6-8 corn tortillas

Cook steaks 2 minutes on each side over medium heat.  Remove from heat and let rest 5 minutes.  Slice or chop steak as desired for tacos.    Warm tortillas in skillet over low heat.  Layer steak, onion and parsley on warmed tortillas.  Squeeze with fresh lime slices and enjoy.