How to Buy the Perfect Steak

‘Tis the season to fire up the grill and enjoy a tender piece of goodness. Let Brooke Parkhurst and James Briscione, authors of Just Married & Cooking: 200 Recipes for Living, Eating, and Entertaining Together help you choose a steak that’s a cut above the rest.

You only need two things for a great steak: quality meat and a hot grill. (While you’re at it, throw in some kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper for enhanced flavor.) That means the onus of turning out a great steak rests squarely on the shoulders of the hunk of meat that you select. Here’s what to look for:

Color
The color of the meat is a great indicator of how much it’s been aged. Good or bad. Proper aging of steak yields a slightly darker, more brown color. It might not be the prettiest steak in the butcher’s case, but it’s the tastiest, with the richest, deepest flavor. Improper aging — aka steaks that have been sitting in the butcher’s case too long — will look dull, slightly grayish. To recap: good aging – color deepens; bad aging — color fades.

Marbling
Those white flecks in the meat are fat, and fat is flavor! Look for a good quantity and an even distribution of the white stuff to ensure that every bite will be a flavorful one.

Size
When it comes to steak, size definitely matters. If the cut is too thin, it will be difficult to develop a good char on the outside without overcooking the interior. If it’s too thick, you might burn the exterior before the interior reaches a level beyond that of steak tartare. Go for a steak that’s atleast 1/2 inch thick and up to 2 inches thick.

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