If you're going to splurge on an amazing meal at a high-end steakhouse, you want to make sure you get the most bang for your buck. Yahoo! Shine reached out to the experts at some of the country's top spots and asked them what you need to know in order to order the best steak you've ever had in your life. Here's what they had to say:
The best cut to order: A bone-in rib eye
All of the experts we interviewed agreed that rib eye (with the bone) was the best choice for steak lovers. "It has plenty of flavor from the bone as well as the flavoring from the marbling of the meat," Doug Sullivan, the general manager of Morton's The Steakhouse at the Boston Seaport, explained Yahoo! Shine. Dieters can still indulge in a good steak, though. "If you're trying to watch your calories a little bit more, I suggest the filet, which is leanest cut," he said.
How to have it cooked: Medium rare
Cooking a steak just until it's medium rare can make a great steak even more amazing, all of our experts said. "Med-Rare with extra char! I won’t order steak any other way," Matt King, corporate chef at Smith & Wollensky, told Yahoo! Shine. "The broiler needs to be at least 1,000 degrees, which creates the perfect crust on any well-marbled steak."
Grass-fed, grain-fed, or corn-fed beef? Choose corn-fed
In Europe and South America, cattle are usually fed grass. In North America, however, cattle is grass-fed while they're young and then fed corn or a mixture of grain as they mature. The corn and grain add fat, which means the steak has more marbling. Famed restauranteur and chef Wolfgang Puck describes grass-fed beef as having "a more iron-y flavor" and not as "rich tasting." Both King and Sullivan told Yahoo! Shine that corn-fed beef is their favorite.
"Corn-fed beef has a much higher degree of marbling," King explained. "Corn-fed beef has a rich buttery nut taste compared to grass-fed."
"To me, the best flavor is corn-fed -- gives the sweetest flavor to the beef," Sullivan agreed. "Grain-fed is next flavorful. Grass-fed has a lot of acid in it, and that brings another kind of flavor to the beef."
Go for the aged beef. It has much more flavor
"Aging allows time for natural enzymes within the meat to break down collagen, making the bite more tender," King explained. (Collagen is the protein in the tough connective tissue.) "In particular dry-aging adds another element of flavor by pulling excess water out of the meat, intensifying the meats delicious flavor."
You don't always need a sauce
"The prime cuts can typically stand well on their own," King told Yahoo! Shine. "The filets, however, while very tender and lean, have less marbling. I like to use interesting rubs on filet, like our Cocoa and Coffee Rub, which brings out the natural flavor. It chars beautifully under the broiler – then I top it with ancho chili garlic butter, lime juice, and a little spice." (You can find his recipe for the rub here.) Sullivan points out that Béarnaise Sauce -- a hollandaise spiked with tarragon -- also compliments a great steak well.
When it comes to steak, bigger isn't necessarily better
"It's really just a matter of your own personal desires and what you have along with it," Sullivan told Yahoo! Shine. "If you're ordering a baked potato or a vegetable, a six- or eight-ounce steak may be adequate. If you're having just the steak by itself, a 12-ounce steak might fill you up."
Then again, sometimes you just want a lot of meat. "We have a 48-ounce porterhouse which is supposed to be split by two people," Sullivan adds. "But sometimes people order it for themselves."
The secret to making a great steak at home
The secret? Using a cast-iron pan. "Our grills get up close to 1,000 degrees, and you can't really duplicate that at home," says Sullivan. But if you have a cast-iron skillet and a little oil, you can make a restaurant-quality steak at home.
"You can create a great crust in a very hot pan, sealing in those flavors and juices from a well-marbled cut," King says. "Resist the urge to constantly turn your steak. Let it sear correctly as this will release the sugars within, resulting in a perfect caramelized crust. You will also capture flavorful drippings in a pan, which can be de-glazed with some brandy or red wine!"
Other steakhouse tricks for home cooks
Take your steak out of the refrigerator 30 to 60 minutes before you plan to cook it, in order to allow it to come to room temperature. Season it simply, with salt and pepper, before searing it on both sides -- a 2.5- to 3.5-inch steak will take about 4 minutes on each side to get to medium rare. And when it's done, let it rest for a few minutes before cutting and serving. "If you cut a steak right away, all of the juices run out," Sullivan explains, leaving you with a dry piece of expensive meat.
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