Definitions

Chicago steak

Steak

[steyk]

A steak (from Old Norse steik, "roast") is a slice of meat, typically beef. Most steaks are cut perpendicular to the muscle fibres, improving the perceived tenderness of the meat. In North America, steaks are typically served grilled, though they are also often pan-fried. The more tender cuts from the loin and rib are cooked quickly, using dry heat, and served whole. Less tender cuts from the chuck or round are cooked with moist heat or are mechanically tenderized. The more tender steaks have a premium price and perception; the idea of eating steak signifies relative wealth. For people from Asia, steak is regarded as one of the quintessential dishes of Western cuisine.

A restaurant that specializes in beef steaks is known as a steakhouse. In the United States, a typical steak dinner consists of a steak, with a starchy side dish, usually baked potatoes, but occasionally another potato dish, rice, pasta, or beans. A small serving of cooked vegetables accompanies the meat and side, with green beans, creamed spinach, asparagus, tomatoes, mushrooms, peas and onion rings being popular. A well-known accompaniment to steak is shrimp or a cooked lobster tail, a combination often called "surf and turf" or "reef and beef". Special steak knives are provided along with steak; steak knives are sharper than most table knives and are usually serrated. Prepared condiments known as steak sauces are generally on the table in steakhouses. Tenderized round or sirloin steaks, breaded, and pan-fried or deep-fried, are called chicken fried or country fried steaks, respectively. Thinly sliced ribeye or other tender cuts, cooked on a hot griddle and shredded slightly, and served on Italian style rolls are called Philly steaks, after the city in which they became famous.

In France, beef steak is usually served with French fried potatoes also known as "pommes frites", and the combination is known as "steak-frites". Vegetables are not normally served with steak in this manner, but a green salad may follow. In the United Kingdom they are also served with French fried potatoes although they are often thicker than the French variety and the combination is called Steak and Chips. Peas, half a tomato or a fried onion ring often feature on the plate too.

In Italy, steak was not widely eaten until post-WWII due to the relative ruggedness of the countryside inhibiting the space- and resource-consuming raising of great bovine herds, but some zones of Piedmont and Tuscany were still renowned for their beef. Bistecca alla fiorentina is a well-known specialty of Florence; it is typically served with just a salad or Tuscan beans. From the 1960s onward the so called "economic boom" allowed more and more Italians to switch to a red meat-heavy diet.

Degree of cooking

The amount of time a steak is cooked is a personal preference; shorter steak cooking times retain more juice, whereas longer steak cooking times result in drier, tougher meat but reduce concerns about disease. A vocabulary has evolved to describe the degree to which a steak is cooked. The following terms are in order from least cooked to most cooked:

  • Raw - Uncooked. Used in dishes like steak tartare, Carpaccio, Gored gored, tiger meat and Kitfo.
  • Blue rare or very rare - (37.8°C/100°F core temp) Cooked very quickly; the outside is seared, but the inside is usually cool and barely cooked. The steak will be red on the inside and barely warmed. Sometimes asked for as 'blood rare'. In the United States this is also sometimes referred to as 'Black and Blue' or 'Pittsburgh Rare'.
  • Rare - (48.9°C/120°F core temp) The outside is gray-brown, and the middle of the steak is red and slightly warm.
  • Medium rare - (52.2°C/126°F degrees core temp) The steak will have a fully red, warm center. Unless specified otherwise, upscale steakhouses will generally cook to at least this level.
  • Medium - (57.2°C/135°F degrees core temp) The middle of the steak is hot and red with pink surrounding the center. The outside is gray-brown.
  • Medium well done - (62.8°C/145°F degrees core temp) The meat is light pink surrounding the center.
  • Well done - (73.9°C/165°F degrees core temp) The meat is gray-brown throughout and slightly charred.

A style exists in some parts of North America called "Chicago". A Chicago-style steak is cooked to the desired level and then quickly charred. The diner orders it by asking for the style followed by the doneness (e.g. "Chicago-style rare"). A steak ordered "Pittsburgh rare" is rare or very rare on the inside and charred on the outside. In Pittsburgh, this style is referred to as "black and blue" (black, i.e. sooty on the outside, Blue rare on the inside).

In Taiwan, a numeric system is used: 0 means raw and 10 means well done.

Types of beef steaks

  • Chateaubriand steak — Usually served for two, cut from the large head of the tenderloin.
  • Chuck steak — A cut from neck to the ribs.
  • Cube steak — A cut of meat, usually top round, tenderized by fierce pounding with a mallet or mechanical blades.
  • Filet mignon — A small, choice cut from the small end of the tenderloin; the most tender and most expensive cut by weight.
  • Flank steak — From the underside. Not as tender as steaks cut from the rib or loin.
  • Flat iron steak — A cut from the shoulder blade.
  • Hanger steak or (French) onglet — a steak from near the center of the diaphragm. Flavorful, and very tender towards the edges, but sinewy in the middle. Often called the butcher's tenderloin or hanging tender.
  • Rib eye steak — A rib steak consisting of the longissimus muscle and the spinalis or cap. This comes from the primal rib used to make prime rib which is typically oven roasted as opposed to grilled as is typical with rib eye. A popeseye steak is cut from this.
  • Rump steak, round steak or (French) rumsteak — A cut from the rump of the animal. A true grilling steak with good flavor though it can be tough, if not cooked properly.
  • Sirloin steak — A steak cut from the hip. Also tends to be less tough, resulting in a higher price tag.
  • OutsideSkirt steak — A steak made from the diaphragm. Very flavorful, but also rather tough.
  • Inside skirt steak - A steak from the flank or bottom sirloin similar in appearance but more tender than the outside.
  • Strip steak — (also known as Delmonico, Kansas City strip, New York strip, and Entrecôte), A high-quality steak cut from the strip loin, a muscle that is relatively low in connective tissue, so it is particularly tender.
  • T-bone steak and Porterhouse - A cut from the tenderloin and strip loin, connected with a T-shaped bone (lumbar vertebra). The two are distinguished by the size of the tenderloin in the cut. T-bones have smaller tenderloin sections, while the Porterhouse – though generally tougher in the strip – will have more tenderloin. T-bone and Porterhouse steaks are among the most expensive steaks on a menu because of the large individual portion size.

Several other foods are called "steak" without actually being steaks:

  • Salisbury steak — Not a steak, but rather a patty from ground beef made with onions, usually bread crumbs, and occasionally mushrooms. Also known as "Hamburger Steak" or "Minute Steak" (due to its shorter cooking time).
  • Steak tartare or tartar steak - Finely chopped fillet of beef, onion, parsley, and capers. Often this dish is uncooked with a raw egg yolk on top.

Other meats

Cuts of game animals similar to those of beef steaks are also known as steaks. Similar cuts of pork and lamb cut across the bone are designated chops, rather than steaks, but certain cuts, such as leg of lamb cut across the bone may be called steaks.

Fish steaks

A fish steak is a portion of cut perpendicular to the backbone, as opposed to a fillet, which is cut parallel to it. For the steak to hold together during cooking, the flesh must be rather firm; fish that are often cut into steaks include salmon, swordfish, halibut, turbot, tuna, and mahi mahi. The larger fish make boneless steaks; smaller fish (such as salmon) make steaks which include skin, meat, a section of backbone, and rib bones. Smaller fish such as mackerel are sometimes cut into similar portions for curing, but these are usually not called 'steaks'. Fish steaks are usually grilled, baked, or pan-fried (with or without being breaded or battered).

Sometimes fillet portions are improperly referred to as steak. Fish like salmon that is occasionally sold skin-on and has firm flesh can be grilled. These portions can look like steaks that have had been deboned (in smaller fish). Shark loin is often called steak; some people think this is perfectly fine since many beef steaks are cut from the loin--however some note that this is a deviation from the traditional cut down the backbone.

See also

External links

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