As we enter grilling season, it’s a great time to get fired up about STEAK. Once considered a luxury, steak is now a staple in many weekly menus. Loved by kids and adults alike, there’s nothing like a well-cooked piece of steak. But there’s a lot of things to consider as you are buying meat for your next barbecue.
THE REAL DEAL
Steak often gets a bad rap because of higher fat content, but all steak is not created equal. The saturated fat content in cuts of lean beef is comparable to that in chicken and some fish. Red meat is a great source of iron, zinc and vitamins B3, B12 and B6. Steaks, depending on the cut, can have up to 36g of protein per 4oz. Portion.
Raising happy healthy animals through responsible sustainable practices protects our bodies and our environment. You’re not just eating a steak, you’re eating an animal’s history. The conditions that make for happy animals also make for healthy food.
Overcrowding, limiting movement, low quality food and lack of sunlight are just a few of the problems that equal increased bacteria. Inhumane slaughter practices have also been linked to stressed animals that release higher levels of hormones and lactic acid into their meat.
Our great grandparents didn’t consider steak “unhealthy,” probably because their cattle were roaming free in fresh clean air consuming a diet of green grass. Up until 1940, all American cattle were grass-fed. Now, just 25% are.
WHY GRASS FED?
In the early 1940s, farmers were producing more corn that humans were consuming, so they began feeding it to cattle. This corn-based diet fattened the cows faster than ever before.
Grass-fed beef is rich in healthy Omega-3s and high in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is said by many to help prevent cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Grass-fed beef provides five times the CLA than grain-fed cattle. The bottom line is, cows are genetically made to turn grass into milk. It’s what nature intended.
NEVER EVER INJECT
Animals are given antibiotics and hormones to speed growth and to prevent disease. Over use of life-saving drugs in animals can lead to strains of bacteria that have evolved to resist antibiotics. When hormones are injected into animals, it’s estimated that their naturally occurring levels increase up to 20 times! It’s hard to determine the exact result of these increased hormone levels, but they have been linked to cancers, early puberty in females, developmental delays and reproductive issues.
Shop for cuts of steak that have never ever been treated with antibiotics or given growth hormones. Many brands have their promises directly on their packaging. All steak sold at Whole Foods has not been treated with antibiotics, hormones, has had no animal byproducts in feed and has primarily been raised on pasture.
A CUT ABOVE
Once you have found a quality steak source, what cut should you select? There are literally hundreds of cuts, but the most popular are filet mignon, strip, sirloin and ribeye.
The crown jewel of cuts, a filet mignon is known for it’s amazing tenderness and exceptional flavor. Filet cooks faster than other steaks and can dry out because of the lower fat content. Many chefs finish by basting with butter to add richness.
Strip steak is a favorite at home and steak houses alike because it is low in fat, and therefore not as prone to flame flare ups on the grill or in the broiler. Sirloin is also known for being lean, firm and full of flavor and slices well for stir fry.
If you like a juicy steak, the ribeye is for you. It’s a marbled steak, perfect for grilling, broiling or pan searing. Known for its higher fat content, many consider the ribeye to be the most flavorful of all the steaks. The fat content makes ribeye prone to causing flare-ups, so cooking can be a bit tricky. Have a lid ready when pan frying and carefully watch the grill in case you need to grab the steak from a fireball.
HOW TO COOK
Just as important as the steak you pick is how it’s prepared. If your meat is fresh, it’s ready to go. If it’s frozen, be sure to thaw steak under refrigeration and use within 5-7 days.
Your heat source can be a grill, pan or oven when cooking steak. It’s best to test doneness using a meat thermometer as opposed to cooking time as heat sources will differ. This will ensure it each steak is cooked to preference. Always let rest 5-10 minutes before serving.
Rare: 125 degrees
Medium Rare: 130 degrees
Medium: 140 degrees
Medium Well: 150 degrees
Well: 160 degrees
Experiment with different cuts and don’t be afraid to try something new. There’s plenty of great online resources to guide you through cooking the perfect steak. Be sure to check out our PaleoChef Steak Sauce for a clean compliment to your favorite cut!