If you’re a steak lover, you’ve surely experienced the difference between a juicy, tender, flavorful steak and an overcooked, tough, gristle-filled puck of meat masquerading as a steak. Bad steak happens, but thank goodness, it’s totally avoidable. And, while you should never experienced a sub-par steak at a steakhouse, the more you know about the different cuts, the easier it is to choose something that will meet your preferences and enjoy a delicious meal each time you go out. There is no single best cut of meat out there, because everyone has different preferences, but there are some cuts that stand above the rest. Here’s what you need to know to choose your steak wisely:

 

Fat Creates Flavor

The filet mignon, which comes from the end of the tenderloin, is well-known for being one of the most consistently tender cuts of meat. Yet, time and time again, you’ll see the tender filet wrapped in a slice of thick bacon before it’s cooked. No, this isn’t to hold the steak together because it’s so tender it wants to fall apart—well, when cooked properly, it’s almost that tender, but that’s not why bacon is added. It’s added because the filet mignon on its own doesn’t have much flavor. If you’re interested in a flavorful steak that isn’t coated in seasonings, you’ll want to choose a cut that has fat marbled through it, like a ribeye. Small flecks of fat dotted throughout the cut will add flavor without upping the chewiness the way a larger chunk of fat on the outside would, so you’re less likely to lose tenderness. If you’re looking for a leaner cut of meat, however, you’ll want to keep an eye out for how the steakhouse adds flavor.

Thickness Designates Temperature (and Juiciness)

One of the big factors that can affect how tender a cut of meat is how much it is cooked. The idea behind a steak—and what makes a cut of meat a steak—is that it can be cooked quickly. Many cuts of meat have connective tissue through them, and in order to make them deliciously edible, they have to be cooked for a long time. Think about a pot roast that’s better when cooked slowly for an hour or three and you’ll have a good idea about what we mean. A cut of meat can generally only be classified as a steak if it can be cooked quickly. And, the less time a cut of meat has to spend being heated, the more tender it is likely to be. This is why steak aficionados will suggest a steak never be cooked more than medium rare. However, the caveat here is that the cut you choose will dictate the temperature it will be cooked to, to an extent. A thinner cut like a flank steak is more likely to be cooked all the way through because it’s nearly impossible to sear it on both sides and keep it red in the center. The thinner a cut of meat, the more likely it will need to be marinated to keep it juicy after cooking.

You don’t have to go without perfectly cooked meat, even if cooking isn’t your forte. Come visit the team here at Elevation in Kennesaw and enjoy a delicious steakhouse meal with a juicy steak cooked just the way you like it!