A steak guide without the coveted New York strip steaks, rib steaks, and filet mignon? Ludicrous? Well, not from our standpoint—“our” meaning any self-respecting butcher shop that has the availability, nay, we say pleasure, of buying whole animals, not just boxed muscles. Let’s clear the air right off the top: We have excluded the three most expensive steaks, the bread and butter for most butcher shops, from our list for the following reasons: 1. To celebrate the meat. Since industrialization in the meat industry kicked in—roughly fifty or so years ago—and the mass production of cheap boxed meat became commonplace, omnivores have become creatures of habit. To see these same three cuts on every restaurant and steak house menu, and to see these steaks take up the majority of display space in virtually every grocery store and butcher shop is, frankly, appalling and boring. We hate to break the news to anyone who thinks otherwise: A cow is not a walking loin. We owe it to our local farmers, the farmers who have a passion for what they do and how they do it, to explore their products in their entirety. Appreciation and exploration of whole animals is the sustainable way to eat meat. 2. Less-marbled cuts are more flavorful. Although a certified organic, locally raised, well-marbled, and dry-aged New York Strip† or Rib Eye steak is pretty much a piece of heaven (we’re not going to say otherwise), there is lot to be said about the flavor in tougher cuts of meat that is not present in the more tender cuts. Many argue that fat content is the sole factor in the determination of flavor, but chefs and food scientists have known for decades that there is an inverse relationship between flavor and tenderness, i.e. tougher cuts, regardless of fat content, are more flavorful. To this day, it is still a mystery, scientifically speaking, as to why tougher cuts tend to have more flavor. Our theory is that the increased flow of blood to a well-used muscle develops its meaty taste (or beefiness, in the case of beef). In any case, tougher cuts benefit from a fullness of flavor that is simply not present in the more tender cuts. †NOTE: The same cuts of meat are often known by different names—none more so than the popular Boneless Strip, Kansas City Strip, New York, New York Strip, Shell Steak or Top Loin. If it gets confusing, see our Beef Glossary. 3. Better value. The value, meaning bang-for-your-buck, is higher for any steak on our list than for a Strip Steak, Rib Steak or Tenderloin. In fact, we could have just as easily named our list a “Value Steak Guide.” We thought the term “sustainable” more accurately links your buying decisions to the farmers’ reality. The best way to treat our list of steaks is to print a copy, stick it to your fridge and systematically, over the course of the summer, try each cut. You may very well rank the steaks differently; truth be told, and despite our repeated recommendations, number 9 and 10 on our list consistently out-sell number 1. Listen to the experts: The Boneless Blade Steak at the right ranked number one in flavor and price/value. Pick one up the next time you go shopping for steak.
| How We Rated The Steaks
We used four factors to come up with our Top 10 list: flavor, tenderness, price and personal opinion. If Einstein taught us anything, it’s that we needed some markers for the objective categories, to which all cuts are judged relative. So this is what we came up with: * Flavor: Rated from 0 to 10, with 0 being the least flavorful cut of beef (which we deemed to be the Eye of Round) and 10 being the most flavorful cut of beef (which we deemed to be the Beef Shank). There are several cuts we could have chosen to be the least and most flavorful; the point is, the least flavorful is one that is very low in fat, not on the bone and is a muscle that does little work. Conversely, the most flavorful cut is one that has ample fat content, benefits from being on the bone (especially marrow...
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