Top 5 – Steaks
Note: During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have the chance to learn a little more about our Louisiana Tech University Family: students, staff, alumni, faculty, and friends. We’ll call it Tech Top 5. Go to LATechSports.com for more Top 5s. #TogetherApart
Dr. Mark Murphey
Dr. Mark Murphey is the Academic Program Chair in Agricultural Sciences, an Associate Professor of Animal Science, and Holder of the Agricultural Sciences Endowed Professorship. More importantly, he knows his way around a ribeye and a grill: at the College of Applied and Natural Sciences tailgates, “Dr. Murph” is often the MVG, or Most Valuable Griller. He is more than qualified to share with us his favorite steaks.
As I worked on this list, one thought kept coming to mind: Marie Antoinette would have been around longer had she suggested they eat steak rather than cake.
Starting out, everyone should remember a few things that make every steak much—and I mean much—better, and that’s “marbling,” the fine flecks of fat interspersed between the muscle fibers that add the flavor and juiciness we all want in a steak.
Second, consider dry-aging, the “old school” way that meat was meant to be handled. Hanging meat in a cooler and allowing the enzymes and environment to do their thing has helped make beef the King of Meats. Whether it’s for 14 or 45 days, go for dry aging.
Finally, cooking. If you want a tough steak, overcook it. The cooking process on thinner cuts of meat like steak shortens the muscle fibers and connective tissue and dries out the meat. Certainly, a far greater sin than putting ketchup on your steak is to overcook it.
- Ribeye: The undisputed Heavyweight Champion of The Steak World. Whether it is a bone-in or boneless ribeye, Tomahawk or Prime Rib, the ribeye is king. Find yourself a Dry Aged Prime or Wagyu or Certified Angus Ribeye, fire up the grill, and cook it to a perfect medium rare, and you will be the Grillmaster.
- Porterhouse/T-Bone: Love ’em or hate ’em, this is the best of both—and sometimes three—worlds. The most tender steak (filet) paired with the ribeye’s closest cousin (strip). I paired these two steaks to save room in my Top 5 for some other great steaks but both have value—and Fred Flintstone would be proud if you order the inch-and-a-half-thick porterhouse or T-bone. The T-bone is closer to the ribeye, has a smaller filet portion than the porterhouse, and again—wait for it—is “two steaks in one.” The porterhouse comes closer to the sirloin and includes part of the sirloin muscle, making it a 3-steak combination and edging out its neighbor, the T-bone.
- Filet Mignon: Can we say “tender”? The most tender steak available. Cut-it-with-a-fork tender. A thought from a friend: “This steak is to either impress your friends or keep your wife happy.” This steak without marbling falls quickly to the bottom and not worth the premium that you will pay to eat this one. The key to a Happy Wife/Happy Life is a well-marbled filet. No marbling? — pass it by and keep looking.
- Strip: Whether it comes from New York or Kansas City, this is the ribeye’s closest cousin. The primary muscle (Longissimus dorsi) of the strip is the same muscle that we find in the ribeye and is the big side of the T-bone. The strip steak is leaner and often lower on the price scale but still is tender and makes a great steak on the grill.
- Flat Iron: Actually is the second-most tender steak we have. Comes from the chuck and is loaded with beefy flavor. Retails at the lower end of the price scale and is extremely versatile. If you want to be easier on the budget, trendy, and enjoy a meal, try a flat iron. (Now for some “bonus” cuts below. You’re welcome!)
- Sirloin: The sirloin is the working man’s steak and a personal favorite but lacks the overall tenderness and marbling of many other steaks. Often reasonably priced, cooks well as a thicker cut and is leaner for the more health-conscious carnivores, but may be a little on the tough side.
- Hanger: Because of The Food Network and the explosion of “foodies,” we have found steaks that we have never dreamed of ever eating. The Hanger steak for years was quickly tossed into the grinder and made into hamburger. Nowadays, it has a large fan following and equals the price of choice ribeye steaks. Only one hanger steak comes from each carcass and availability may be limited. Tender and flavorful, makes it a great one to eat and will impress the foodies in your life.
- Flank/Skirt: Flank and skirt steak are two separate muscles but very similar in type and kind. These muscles tend to be very beefy in flavor but tougher than most meats that we call steak. Cook them no more than medium, slice thin strips across the grain, and you will have a great meal.
- Chuck Eye Steak: This is the very front end of the ribeye that remains with the chuck portion of the carcass when it is separated from the rib. It has been termed the “Poor Man’s Ribeye” and is often on the lower end of the price scale. You generally will only get one or two chuck eye steaks from each side of the carcass. The chuck eye is a flavorful steak that may be well marbled, but it can have a definite chew to it.