Guidelines on how to purchase steak
One of the most common questions for people cooking steaks is how to purchase steak that will result in a tasty meal. Fortunately, even though it can seem daunting, buying the right steak isn't really all that hard. Let's take a look, and find out more about how to purchase quality steak that will cook up great.
The first thing you should do is look outside the supermarket if you can. Local butchers, meat sales at farmers' markets, and other options can help you get better tasting steaks than the ones you find in the refrigerator case. Make friends with your local butcher if possible. This isn't something that everyone will be able to do, but it can really help in purchasing steak of the highest quality. If the supermarket is your only option, buy from the counter, not the packaged section.
Look at grade when you buy. It's hard to find Prime cuts of meat, since most are shipped overseas or go to high end restaurants. Many of us can't afford them, anyway, but if you see one, be sure to try it. If Prime isn't an option, choose Choice whenever possible, and Select only when this grade isn't available or cost effective. There are some things you can look for to make a lower grade of meat taste better (pasture finishing, fat levels, locally produced) but higher grades are generally better.
Meat should be light cherry red, rather than deep red, and never brown or gray. The fat should run through the meat in thin threads, and the meat should not be too lean. While lean meat is often more tender, and is considered better for us, it's not as flavorful as steak with a higher fat content. The marbling is what improves the taste. Purchase steak with a good amount of fat for the best flavor, and trim only the large, tough areas, not the finer threads.
Choose aged meat - dry aged is usually preferred, but wet aged is better than fresh, and avoid packaged meat that has tears in the packaging or is too wet. You want to buy meat that has been treated well, so that it'll produce the best result when you cook it. Ask your butcher what he or she would recommend - remember that butchers have a lot of expertise and you should take advantage of it. You might even be able to purchase steak at an unusually good price, since your butcher knows the sales and meat quality.
It's not hard to purchase steak, but you do have to put a little bit of effort into it. Take the time to get to know your butcher and learn more about meat, and you'll be able to buy a steak that will cook up deliciously and impress your guests.
If your local market doesn't have the kind of quality you're hoping for, think about shopping online. There are companies that offer mail order steaks that will be better than the ones available in your market. It's worth it to take the effort to purchase steak that you'll enjoy.