At Bourbon & Bones, we pride ourselves on our classic American fare with twists your taste buds will appreciate. On our menu, nothing is more classic than our steaks. Between the fresh ingredients, we source locally and the high standards we set for the steaks themselves, we’re confident you’ll find your favorite steak dish on our menu. As one of the best steak restaurants in the Scottsdale area, we thought that we’d give a few tips on what actually makes the best steak and options you might want to explore so that you can discover exactly the right steak for you. Here are four questions to ask yourself about your steak.
1. How well-done do you like your steak?
First of all, if you’re interested in grilling, broiling, roasting, or braising your own cuts of steak, there are lots of great tips on the Certified Angus Beef website. Since we use USDA prime and Certified Angus beef in our own kitchen, you can be sure that the quality is the same, and they know what they’re talking about.
How rare or well-done you like a steak will generally show how firm you like your steak.
For instance, if you order a steak rare, you can expect to see some bright red in the middle of the cut. While the outside of the steak will be seared, the center may be slightly cool since the heat didn’t spend a lot of time in there.
A medium-rare steak will also have a nice sear on the outside but will show a more muted red color. The meat will also be a bit firmer than a rare steak.
Characteristics of a medium steak will be similar, except the center will be firm with a pink center. If you increase your order to a level that’s more medium-well, you’ll only see a small amount of pink in the center.
And of course, a well-done steak is the firmest style on this list and will have no pink in the middle.
2. What is the grade of the cut?
There are eight beef quality grades, largely based on two main criteria. These are the degree of marbling in the beef and the maturity of the animal. Marbling is a term for the white specks you can see in a fresh cut of beef. This is the intramuscular fat of the animal: small pockets of fat. When cooking, these pockets will melt in the heat and are a factor when you judge how juicy and tender it is. The highest quality of marbling is the kind that is the most evenly spread over the whole steak.
• The highest grade of the beef quality scale is US Prime. It has the highest amount of intramuscular fat, and there is a limited supply of this meat, making it the most expensive and sought-after in the market.
• The second-highest grade is US Choice. While it still has the high quality, it may not have as high a fat amount as US Prime. Choice steaks are also more readily available in restaurants and retail markets.
• The third-highest grade is US Select. This is the lowest grade sold at retail, which means you may find this in your local grocery store. You can expect this grade to be less juicy and tender, and these cuts will tend toward the lean.
3. What kind of cut is it?
If you’re grilling at home, you should first make sure you’re comfortable with the thickness of your steak. If you’re buying Select steaks at the grocery store, you may not have much choice when it comes to thickness, but independent or specialty meat stores may have a higher quality cut available to you. Remember, a thicker steak will take longer to cook all the way through.
Are you a bone-in or bone-out kind of person? This is a hot-button topic amongst meat grillers. Last year, scientists experimented on whether one or the other contributed to tastier steaks. The claim was that a bone-in steak was more delicious because the bone marrow flavored it while cooking and that steaks without the bone suffered taste-wise because of it. They discovered, instead, that there isn’t much difference between the flavors of bone-in or bone-out steaks due to the marrow. The bones weren’t porous enough to release the marrow and give that benefit.
Instead, there may be a small flavor difference near the bone, but that’s because the meat near the bone might be between 5 and 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the steak. If you’re ordering a medium or well-done steak, those sections will taste juicy and will be extra tender. However, if you’re ordering a rare or medium-rare steak, those sections could be raw or chewy.
That isn’t to say that bone-out steaks shouldn’t have a place on your grill or your plate. Boneless steaks tend to get a better sear and will cook more evenly.
4. What cooking method do you prefer?
There are a plethora of ways to cook a steak. The first you might think of is probably grilling—it’s also kind of shorthand in our parlance for cooking a steak, whether you’re grilling or not. Grilling is also difficult to mess up once you know what you’re doing. Once your grill is nice and hot, and your steaks are seasoned and oiled on both sides, throw them on for 3 to 5 minutes a side. (If you feel like being fancy, you can rotate the steaks halfway through to complete the cross-hatched look!) When the steaks are done, take them off the grill and let them rest for a few minutes, covered in foil, before serving.
Of course, this is the simplest way to grill a steak—you can get any grill-master going simply by asking how they like to season their steaks, whether they’re a fan of straight grilling or whether they prefer a reverse sear, etc.
Here’s hoping we’ve made you hungry for one of our steaks, either to try something new or to enjoy an old favorite. Come visit us at Bourbon & Bones to taste the difference!