How to Choose a Steak
It's all in the cut.
To really know steak, you have to know cuts. "The classics for grilling," says Evan Lobel, co-owner of Lobel's, a well-known New York City butcher shop, "are rib eye, a juicy, fatty cut that can be slightly tough; strip, a steak-house cut that often has the most flavor; porterhouse, which has a buttery, tender fillet on one side and a strip on the other; and T-bone, which combines a bit of fillet and a larger piece of strip." For a melt-in-your-mouth quality from any cut, ask for beef that has been aged (three weeks is ideal) and is stamped "USDA Prime." Free-range beef―from cattle raised outdoors and fed grass, not corn―has a strong, distinctive taste. For a less expensive but still flavorful beef, Chance Brooks, assistant professor of meat science at Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, recommends top blade or tri-tip, two cuts that "give a great bang for your buck." Adds Brooks, "Let the cut marinate, slice against the grain, and you'll have yourself a great steak."