Dad Guide: How to Select Your Perfect Steak

Warning: Post contains images of raw meat

Since becoming a parent, date nights or even nights out with friends are fewer and farther apart than they used to be. It’s not as often we’re all gathered around a table at one of our favorite restaurants with a few bottles of wine talking, laughing, and relaxing. So when it happens, being the one to spark great conversation can be fun and entertaining.

There’s a part of me (and I think everyone) who wants to be a food connoisseur. Ready to pull some little nugget of knowledge from our brain’s neither region at any moment to impress the table.

“You know, California crushes 3.4 million tons of grapes for their wine. The most of any state in the country. ”

Random tidbits of food and drink information that sparks the perfect dinnertime discussion and gives you great satisfaction in educating your table mates. (Golf clap anyone?) That’s why we subjected ourselves to watching a cow get butchered at 8 a.m.. For you. We’re here to arm you with knowledge for when you sit down to that next semi-fancy meal. Dropping these serious deets on what you’re about to order can keep the discussion going all night long.

Related content: 3 simple meals every dad can master

Head to any top steakhouse and the wine list is likely not be the only intimidating choice to make. On the menu can be any number of different meat options, each featuring different types of cuts. Each delicious in its own delicious way and for a different reason.

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We recently got an exclusive look inside the kitchen at the Ringside Steakhouse in Portland, Oregon as Executive Chef Beau Carr and his team hand cut and prepared half a Wagyu cow. Weighing in at 1,143 pounds, the giddiness of this team of eight chefs was palpable as pound after pound was wheeled into the kitchen in preparation for the butchering. Yes, it’s easier to have it pre-cut and delivered but as Chef Carr puts it, doing it yourself allows you the guest to get an even better dining experience.

“I’m able to do things I normally wouldn’t do,” Carr said. “For instance I can make a consommé out of the bones. Because I have a shank, I have the bones, I can do wagyu bone marrow for an appetizer. I can make consommé because I can use the stock from the bones and then I can use the shank as part of the clear meat which is the clarification for the consommé.”

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But knowing your cut of meat can help deliver you the perfectly delicious meal. Which prompts the question, ‘what should I be looking for when choosing a cut?’

“Grading has a lot to do with it. The higher the grading the better the marbling you’re going to have typically,” Carr said. And the marbling is - well - all the marbles. It’s the inter-muscular fat that breaks down and liquifies at a certain temperature. So when you experience juiciness and flavor from a steak, it’s the fat. “The more marbling, the more of these tiny flecks of fat that you have in the meat, the better the meat is going to taste.”

So let’s break this down, according to Chef Carr:

  • Top & Bottom Round - Tougher cut, often used for moist, slow cooking
  • Top Sirloin - Gives you more bite
  • Fillet Mignon - More tenderness
  • New York or Ribeye - Quality flavor with middle of the road bite

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So when that menu comes don’t wait for the waiter to start dishing details on the cuts of meat. Impress the table and do it yourself. They’ll thank you for it, and so will your tastebuds.

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