A Beginner’s Guide: Understanding Where Steak Comes From

Are you a meat lover who’s always curious about where your steak comes from? Do you struggle to understand the different cuts and meat grades? Fear not, my friend! This beginner’s guide to understanding where steak comes from will answer all your burning questions. From the anatomy of a cow to the various cuts of steak available at your local butcher shop, we’ll take a deep dive into the world of steak. Get ready to become a steak connoisseur and impress your fellow carnivores with your newfound knowledge!

What Is A Steak?

A Beginner's Guide: Understanding Where Steak Comes From

A is a well-known and delicious dish that is enjoyed worldwide. It is a piece of beef, sliced from various muscles of a cow, that is cooked to perfection and can be served with a variety of sides. With so many different cuts and cooking methods, a steak can be tailored to suit any taste or mood. According to The Spokesman-Review, most steaks come from the upper back region of the cow, specifically the rib, short loin, and sirloin. However, there are also various other areas of the cow where steaks can be sourced, each with its own flavor and texture. It is important to consider the cut when shopping for steaks, as different cuts result in different levels of tenderness and flavor. For beginner home cooks, it is suggested to stick to four main cuts: sirloin, ribeye, filet, and strip. The choice of cut often depends on personal preference and budget. It is also important to properly prepare and season the steak before cooking to ensure it is perfect. Whether grilled, pan-seared, or broiled, a well-cooked steak can be a satisfying and indulgent meal that will leave you dreaming of your next steak dinner. As the Water Cooler in The Spokesman-Review suggests, learning to cook steak has a huge financial perk as it is much more cost-effective to cook at home rather than dining out at a restaurant.

How Steaks Are Made

Steaks are the classic American meal that’s famous for its mouth-watering and delicious taste. Steak lovers enjoy this dish in various ways, but choosing and preparing a steak can be challenging for beginners. So, where does steak come from? The answer is simple- cows. Cows are large animals with different muscles, and each muscle varies in shape, size, and function, so the different cuts all cook up differently. The most common cuts of steak is available in the market are filet mignon, porterhouse/T-bone, and New York Strip. Before picking a steak cut, it is essential to understand your taste and mood to satisfy your taste buds. Moreover, it’s essential to have a basic knowledge of the ratings of steak. According to a passing score of 3 out of 5, the ratings focus on flavor, tenderness, and luxuriousness. The taste, tenderness, and price are all considered when deciding which cut to buy. As an important tip, pat dry the steak before cooking to avoid making it boil and trim excess fat to avoid chewiness. Also, ensure the steak is salted correctly and leave it to room temperature before cooking.

In summary, steak lovers can explore several options with this delicacy, and cooking a steak at home can seem intimidating, but learning the basics is rewarding. Knowing the different cuts available, ratings, and basic techniques make cooking steak enjoyable and delicious.

Introduction To Understanding Where Steak Comes From

Are you a beginner when it comes to understanding where steaks come from and how to choose the right one? Look no further, as this beginner’s guide will help you understand the basics of steaks.

Firstly, it’s essential to know that different cuts of beef come from different parts of the cow, and each cut has a unique taste and texture. “Cows are very large animals (around 2000 pounds) and have many different muscles. Each muscle varies in shape, size, and function,” says the guide. It’s important to choose a steak based on your taste and mood.

Some popular cuts of beef include the tenderloin, filet mignon, porterhouse/T-bone, and New York Strip, all of which come from the loin section of the cow. It’s crucial to understand the characteristics of each steak cut before you cook it. For instance, “A tougher cut of beef such as from the chuck or the round would benefit from low and slow cooking methods while tender beef cuts like filet mignon and porterhouse steaks should be cooked over dry heat on the grill or in a searing hot pan.”

In addition to steak cuts, the guide covers topics such as understanding the doneness of your steak, what to serve with steak, and how to cook steak. So, whether you’re a novice cook or a seasoned home cook, this guide is a great step-by-step resource to help you choose and prepare the perfect steak.

Anatomy Of A Cow: Breaking Down The Different Cuts Of Meat

1. Understanding Primal Cuts

  • A cow is divided into main areas: the loin, rib, round, flank, chuck, sirloin, and brisket.
  • These areas are then broken down further into sub-primal cuts before becoming specific steaks and chops.

2. Loin Cuts

  • It is best grilled or fried; it works better with high heat.
  • Includes the T-bone and Porterhouse steaks, tenderloins, and strip loin cuts.
  • “For a primordial recipe where nothing gets in the way of the flavor of the meat, learn how to cook in a searing hot pan.”

3. Rib Cuts

  • Getting fattier, some are better for slow cooking and roasting.
  • Ribeye steak is better grilled or fried in a skillet.
  • They are used for standing rib roast and classic French dishes like Beef Bourguignon.

4. Chuck Cuts

  • They are used for braised dishes like pot roast and for juicy burgers.
  • “If you only understand one section, Chuck is the one, as there’s a cut for every style of cooking.”

5. Brisket

  • Best slow-cooked for delicious and juicy results.
  • Brisket point works better than brisket flat as it is less lean.

6. Round Cuts

  • Leaner cuts require knowledge of cooking techniques.
  • Best for high heat (top and bottom round) and slow cooking (bottom rump and eye roast).

7. Skirt and Flank Cuts

  • Short ribs should only be slow-cooked; flank and skirt steaks are best grilled or fried.
  • “There are endless rich variations on braised ribs where this cut is immersed in a bath of rich flavors like red wine, beer, garlic, or tomato until the meat is falling off the bone.”

8. Other Cuts

  • Includes stewing steak, burgers, corned beef, minced and ground beef, and shanks.
  • Beef cheeks are a delicious and often overlooked cut.

Understanding the anatomy of a cow and the different cuts of meat can help us make informed choices when buying and cooking beef. With this knowledge, we can elevate our culinary skills and enjoy delicious and varied dishes.

Understanding The Grading System For Beef

Steak lovers often hear about the grading system that determines the quality of beef. The grading system refers to the marbling present in a specific cut or cow, the amount of intramuscular fat in any steak. Marbling is directly correlated to the value and decadence of a steak as it provides a sweet, buttery flavor and helps in tenderizing the otherwise tougher muscle tissue. However, it is important to purchase the right cut of steak. Different steaks have different compositions, so comparing the grades of two different cuts is not fair. The universal grading standard is known as the Beef Marble Score (BMS), which has 13 grades ranging from 0 (no marbling) to 12 (extreme marbling). In the USA, the primary determinant of the grade of the cow is the ribeye cut evaluated for the amount and distribution of marbling between the 12th and 13th ribs. Three grades of beef under the USDA grading system are USDA Select (BMS 1), Choice (BMS 2), and Prime (BMS 3-5+). Other grades, such as Canner Cutter Utility Commercial and Standard, rarely make it onto the shelves of any butcher or supermarket as steaks as they rank a BMS 0. The Australian beef grading system is known as the Meat Standards Australia (MSA), which measures several attributes of beef such as meat color, marbling, fat depth, carcass weight, maturity, and pH. Understanding beef grades can help you select the right steak for a delicious and juicy meal.

Choosing The Right Cut For Your Cooking Method

A Beginner's Guide: Understanding Where Steak Comes From

Choosing the right cut of steak is essential to ensure the perfect meal. Different cuts are suited for different cooking methods, so selecting the appropriate one for your recipe is crucial. As per The Spokesman-Review, the most commonly used cuts are the sirloin, ribeye, filet, and strip (aka New York strip). Each of these cuts has its distinctive texture and taste, making them perfect for specific cooking methods. For example, the ribeye is perfect for grilling due to its high marbling and fat content, while the filet is great for pan-searing due to its tenderness. Before choosing the steak, it is important to consider personal preferences, as some people prefer a tender steak without much fat, while others enjoy a steak with a higher fat content for added flavor. As per Luxuriousness ratings, the New York Strip has the best combination of flavor, texture, and juiciness, while the Porterhouse offers the highest degree of tenderness. Therefore, it is essential to do some research, ask the butcher, or rely on the expertise of experienced friends to choose the right cut of steak for your cooking method, ensuring the perfect, mouth-watering meal.

Preparing And Cooking Your Steak To Perfection

Preparing and cooking steak to perfection doesn’t have to be intimidating or complicated. Follow these steps, and you’ll have a delicious and juicy steak every time:

  • Take the steak out of the fridge 30-40 minutes before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature and ensure even cooking.
  • Dry brine the steak by salting it at least 40 minutes before cooking or even the night before. This will season the beef and help it retain moisture for a juicy and tender bite.
  • Dry the steak and leave the fat on, as it adds flavor and moisture while cooking. Pat the steak dry with paper towels for the perfect outer crust.
  • Preheat a large frying pan or grill to high heat without adding oil to the pan. Brush the steak with oil and season with salt and pepper. It’s important not to overcrowd the pan or grill, so cook in batches or use two pans if necessary.
  • Cook the steak for 2 minutes on each side for rare, 3-4 mins for medium-rare, and 4-6 min for medium. For well done, cook for 2-4 minutes on each side, then turn the heat down and cook for another 4-6 minutes. Use the tip of your clean index finger or tongs to prod the steak to test doneness gently.
  • Once the steak is cooked, place it onto a wooden board or plate, cover it loosely with foil, and rest it for about 6-7 minutes before slicing across the grain or serving. This will allow the meat to relax and the juices to return to the meat fibers, resulting in a more tender steak.

Remember, the steak you choose is a big factor in taste and tenderness. Determine which cut fits your taste and mood. Each muscle varies in shape, size, and function, and different cuts all cook up differently with distinct tastes and textures. Instead of just looking for marbling, consider other factors like the cut of steak when selecting.

How Long Do You Cook A Steak?

When it comes to cooking steak, timing is crucial. Overcooking can result in a tough and dry steak, while undercooking can lead to an unpleasantly chewy texture. So, how long do you cook a steak? The answer depends on the cut, thickness, and preferred level of doneness. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • For a rare steak, cook it for about 2-3 minutes on each side.
  • For a medium-rare steak, cook it for about 3-4 minutes on each side.
  • For a medium steak, cook it for about 4-5 minutes on each side.
  • For a well-done steak, cook it for about 6-8 minutes on each side.

It’s important to note that these are approximate times and can vary depending on the heat of your grill or pan and the thickness of your steak. The best way to ensure your steak is cooked to your liking is to use a meat thermometer. Here are some recommended internal temperatures for different levels of doneness:

  • For rare, the internal temperature should be 120-130°F.
  • For medium-rare, the internal temperature should be 130-135°F.
  • For medium, the internal temperature should be 135-145°F.
  • For well-done, the internal temperature should be 155°F or higher.

Remember to let your steak rest for a few minutes before slicing into it to allow the juices to redistribute and ensure a juicy and flavorful steak. And don’t be afraid to experiment with different cooking methods and marinades to find your perfect steak. As Julia Child once said, “The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.”

Essential Tips For Where Does Steak Come From

1. All types of steak can come from any part of the cow, not just beef.

2. Steaks can come from cows or steers, but steers are typically used more for meat and steak.

3. Beef is divided into large sections known as primal beef cuts, which are then broken down into sub-primal cuts such as chuck, brisket, rib, plate, short loin, flank, sirloin, tenderloin, top sirloin, bottom sirloin, and round, where steaks are cut from.

4. The most expensive and tender steak is the filet mignon, which is from the tenderloin muscle along the spine.

5. It’s important to pick a steak that fits your taste and mood; different cuts have different tastes and textures.

6. The most commonly found cuts of steak in a grocery store are retail cuts, whereas primal cuts are the large sections a cow is butchered into.

7. Marbling matters less than the cut of steak when learning how to cook a steak.

8. Always let the steak rest for a few minutes to redistribute its juices before cutting it.

9. Use a meat thermometer to ensure proper doneness according to personal preference.

10. Choose a cooking method that fits the cut of steak and personal preferences, such as grilling, pan-searing, or broiling.

As a beginner, understanding where steak comes from and what to look for when choosing and preparing a steak can be overwhelming. However, you can enjoy a delicious and rewarding meal by knowing the basics of where the different cuts come from, how to choose a steak that fits your taste and mood, and the proper cooking methods.


Q: What should I look for when choosing a steak?


  • Choose a cut that fits your taste and mood.
  • Different cuts cook up differently and have different tastes and textures.
  • Consider flavor, tenderness, and price based on pan-searing alone.

Q: How can I tell the doneness of my steak?


  • Touch method: Press your finger on the center of the steak to determine the level of doneness.
  • Internal temperature method: Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature.

Q: What can I serve with steaks?


  • Classic sides include mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, and a salad.
  • Pair steaks with red wine for a classic flavor combination.

Q: How do I cook a steak?


  • For a crispy crust, search the steak in a hot skillet with butter or oil.
  • Finish cooking the steak in the oven until it reaches the desired level of doneness.

Q: What is marbling?

A: Marbling is the streaks of fat within the meat that melt and add flavor and juiciness to the steak.

Final Word

In conclusion, understanding where steak comes from and choosing the right cut can make all the difference when it comes to enjoying a delicious, juicy meal. Whether you prefer a lean tenderloin or a flavorful ribeye, there is a cut of steak out there for everyone. Remember to look for marbling and consider the cooking method that best suits your chosen cut. And don’t be afraid to experiment with seasonings and sides to make your meal even more enjoyable. As Anthony Bourdain once said, “Meat is meat. It’s all good.” With the knowledge gained from this beginner’s guide, you’ll be able to confidently approach your local butcher or grocery store and select the perfect cut of steak for your next meal.


Leave a Comment