If you’re planning on treating dad to something special on Father’s Day, here’s a suggestion: a big juicy steak.
Meaty and mighty seem to be the qualities we look for in steak, but there are other things to consider. How thick should a steak be? What about that marbling? What’s the best way to cook a restaurant-quality steak at home.
Our meat experts — Mike Romine from Farm Field Table in Ferndale, Mich., and Walter Apfelbaum, executive butcher at Prime + Proper at Capitol Park in downtown Detroit — are here to help.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
With steaks, it’s all about the marbling. Both Apfelbaum and Romine say marbling is key to flavor, moisture and tenderness.
“It’s the fine ribbons of fat that are in the inner muscle, not what’s on the outside,” Romine says. “Look for a whole lot of fine ribbons instead of large swath of fat.”
Steaks that are well-marbled, Apfelbaum says, are best for grilling outdoors. “You need that fat to help keep that steak juicy.”
HOW TO CHOOSE
Sometimes bigger is better. Apfelbaum’s prefers steaks that are cut 2 to 3 inches thick. Romine likes to buy one large steak to feed several people.
“Most people don’t need 18 ounces of meat,” Romine says. For serving two or three people, he suggests buying a 24- to 26-ounce bone-in rib eye. “It’s easier to cook, has better texture and is easier to get to the perfect temperature.”
Also look for and ask for unique butcher cuts. Farm Field Table offers sirloin bavette, which is similar to flank steak. Teres major comes from the shoulder area as does the chuck eye, which also has a bit of the rib eye, but for a lot less money.
BONE-IN OR BONELESS?
Most chefs agree that cooking a steak with the bone in provides more flavor. The bone also protects the muscle while it cooks.
“It helps provide more gentle cooking because the bone protects it (the meat) from excess heat,” Romine says.
How to cook three great steaks
— Sirloin: Because it’s lean, sear first, then cook low and slow.
— Tomahawk (long bone-in ribeye): Apfelbaum coats both sides with salt and sears, flips once and sears again. Then he moves the steak to a cooler part of the grill.
— Porterhouse or T-bone: These are both the same cut, and they contain a portion of the tenderloin and strip loin. The porterhouse, however, has a larger portion of the tenderloin than the T-bone. It’s tough to cook because of the two different cuts.
Here’s what Apfelbaum recommends: Whether you’re cooking on a grill or indoors in a cast-iron skillet, cook until the tenderloin is medium-rare. Cut it away from the bone and move to a cooler side of the grill or off the heat while you continue cooking the strip loin.
When it comes to seeking out good cuts of meat or understanding what to buy, Apfelbaum advises getting to know your local butcher.
“You can spend a couple bucks and get a great steak,” Apfelbaum says. “But talk to your butcher to make sure you are buying the correct thing. They will walk you in the right direction.”