The Great Steak Debate
Slicing into a perfectly grilled steak is one of the great joys of summer. But there are so many different cuts, it can be hard to choose. To help narrow down your options, we’ve asked a few of our favorite butchers, steak-house chefs and food experts to weigh in on the best cuts and how to cook them. Did your favorite steak make the grade? Join in on the debate by sharing your thoughts with us in our comments section, below. Whether you’re the top-sirloin type, lean towards T-bone or never met a filet mignon you didn’t like — we want to know!
“Bone-in prime rib is my desert-island steak. I love the robust beefiness of the meat and the way the cooked fat melts in my mouth.” —Peter Sanagan, owner of Sanagan’s Meat Locker in Toronto
To get it just right, Peter recommends bringing the cut to room temperature before seasoning it liberally with salt and pepper, and giving it a good rub with olive oil. Searing the meat on a hot, dry cast iron pan is also key; this allows the steak to develop a delicious caramel-brown crust. Depending on the thickness of your cut, you’ll want to cook the steak for about four minutes per side (for a one-inch-thick steak) for medium-rare. If your cut is really thick (more than two inches), Peter suggests finishing it off in a 400°F oven.
“My current go-to is the top sirloin. It’s less expensive than strip or rib steaks and has a great flavour.” –Kristen Eppich, House & Home recipe developer.
A top sirloin cut is generally large, making it the perfect choice when entertaining. To get the most out of it, Kristen recommends marinating the meat before grilling it at a very high heat to medium rare. Serve it thinly sliced to earn rave reviews from your guests.
“I love bone-in prime rib steak, preferably cut one-and-a-half inches thick with a bit of extra fat left on the rim.” —Cynthia Beretta, founder of Beretta Farms in Toronto
A bone-in prime rib steak is one of the easiest steaks to grill because of its beautiful, heavy marbling. The fat gives you a bit of room for forgiveness if you happen to leave it on for a couple of minutes too long, notes Cynthia. To get it just right, preheat your barbecue to a very high heat and sear the cut for two minutes per side, then lower the temperature to 275°F and let the steak finish cooking slowly.
“I treat myself to a rib eye occasionally. The way the fat reacts to the heat when you cook it gives off this amazing flavor.” —Erik Heck, head chef at The Flying Pig in Vancouver
If you’re looking for a cut that has a lot of flavor and doesn’t require a lot of prep work, the rib eye is for you. All it needs is a simple seasoning of salt and pepper — the generous marbling does the rest and helps keep it naturally juicy. Chef Erik suggests barbecuing thicker cuts on a lower heat and switching to a high heat if your cut is thinner. And always err on the side of rare — you can always throw a steak back on the grill if it’s not quite done yet, but you can’t save an over-cooked steak.
Weber’s Smoke by Jamie Purviance (2012 Oxmoor House)
“I think my favorite cut has changed about twenty times in the last ten years. If I have guests coming over, I often want to slap on a whole Vacio [flank steak], which is a fairly large cut… put it on a cutting board, and slice nice and thin across the grain so everybody can pick at it. Other times I just want a perfectly marbled grass-fed rib eye.” —Mario Fiorucci, founder of the Healthy Butcher in Toronto
If you want an amazing steak experience, Mario suggests sticking to these three rules: Source your beef from an organic farm, whenever possible; season minimally — salt and pepper are all you need; and don’t overcook your meat (use an instant read thermometer and grill your steak to an internal temperature of 115°F).