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How to Pick Out and Cook The Best Steak

Are you ready for a big weekend cookout or just want to whip something up that will make your stomach happy? The sea of red at the meat counter can be overwhelming, but if you follow some of these essential tips, you will end up with a delicious steak and impressed guests.

Go in with a plan.

Let’s start by thinking about what you want to do before you go. Otherwise, you might get left standing at the meat case in confusion. Do you want to impress a special someone for a date night? Or do you want to feed the crowds and leave them asking who the cook was? These situations are going to call for different cuts! 

If you’re thinking date night, you’ll want to spend a little extra cash and go with tenderloin or New York strip. Both of these steaks are inherently tender and hard to mess up. 

If you’re thinking cookout, consider getting a few flat iron steaks or a tri-tip roast. Both have great flavor but add a nice rub, and you have a BBQ favorite. Another great option is to grab some flank steaks, add a delicious marinade, and then slice after cooking for some yummy tacos. 

Time to cook!

Cooking up your steak isn’t challenging, but you’ll need to know the correct cooking method for your cut of choice. If you pick a tender cut (i.e., tenderloin, New York strip, ribeye, porterhouse, or anything from the rib or loin area of the animal almost any method will work, but grilling, skillet frying, or dry methods of cooking work best. You don’t want to add too much extra in the way of spices as you’ll ruin the steak’s natural flavor, but a little salt and pepper never hurt. 

Not sure where your steak comes from? Check out this Beef Cuts chart from to figure it out.

If you pick something less tender (but no less delicious) like a top round or shoulder steak, you will want to throw that bad boy in a marinade before popping it on the grill. If you’re not looking to use a grill or another dry cooking method, consider slow cooking a tougher cut in the crock pot, stew pot, or even your pressure cooker. A little more TLC does these cuts well, and you will be rewarded for your efforts. 

WAIT! Don’t cut yet!

After your steak is cooked to your desired doneness, let it rest! You want that steak to hold on to its delicious juices and flavor. If your steak is steaming hot when you cut into it, all of that yummy goodness ends up on your plate. So grab another cold beverage and let those babies rest for 5-10 minutes. 

Okay. Now you can cut.

Depending on the cut of steak, look for the grain, and cut against it.

The tri-tip and flank steak have very obvious grains making this tip essential for these cuts. To find the grain of the beef, look for the parallel lines of muscle fiber and fat. Then slice perpendicular to that. This cuts those muscle fibers short, which means less chewing is required for you. Sometimes the grain changes directions midway through a cut, so keep an eye on it. 

Where do I get my beef?

One of the many cool things about living in the US is the beef you find at the grocery store is high-quality, delicious, and inspected and regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture. Most likely, it’s raised on a family farm, with 98% of farms and ranches in the US still family-owned and operated! If you want to eat local and meet the person raising the beef you eat, you can do that too! Check out the Arizona Farm Bureau Fill Your Plate webpage to look up ranchers close to you who are selling beef directly from the ranch. 

For all your beef cooking needs, put on your favorites tab and give them a follow on Facebook and Instagram

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With a life entrenched in the western lifestyle and agriculture, my goal is to share worthwhile, intriguing, and exciting stories of the rodeo world, ranchers and farmers, the outdoor lifestyle, and more. Currently, I reside on a working cattle ranch in the iconic Superstition Mountains in Arizona where I like to jump in and play cowgirl when I’m not sharing the stories of the cowboy lifestyle. Follow me on Instagram or TikTok!

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