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Steak Basics for Beginners – How to Pick a Perfect Steak


Steak isn’t complicated… when you understand the basics. As a professional chef and Executive Chef for Omaha Steaks, I’m a carnivore through and through, and nothing beats a juicy, delicious steak. Today, I’m going to share the basics of steak; what makes a steak a steak, the different types of fat (and why it matters), the importance of steak aging, and how to choose the best steak for you.


What Makes a Steak a Steak?

There are many different cuts of beef, but very few are steak. A steak is a whole-muscle cut of beef, meaning it’s not processed or changed. Most beef isn’t tender enough to be cooked over high heat like a steak and ends up as ground beef or slow-cooker cuts. The best steaks are cut only from a few areas, including the hindquarters, called the short loin, or from the rib section. These aren’t the biggest muscles, so there’s just a lot less of it than other cuts of beef – that’s what makes steak expensive.

Learn more about each individual cut of steak, including filet mignon, ribeye, New York strip, T-bone, top sirloin, and flat iron, in the Ultimate Steak Cut Guide.

Know the Different Types of Fat

There are two different types of fat in beef: intramuscular and intermuscular fat. The difference between the two is important when selecting a steak.

Intermuscular (white) fat

Intermuscular fat is the large areas of fat that sit between the different areas of muscles. Some cuts of meat, like a rib roast, are supposed to have those areas of fat that melt and add flavor as it cooks. Other cuts of steak, like Omaha Steaks filet mignon, have been masterfully butchered and trimmed so there’s very little exterior fat.

Intramuscular fat (marbling)

The white flecks inside the steak are intramuscular fat or marbling. Intramuscular fat melts into the meat while cooking, giving the steak incredible flavor and juiciness. When you’re looking for a perfect, juicy steak, look for well-trimmed white fat and lots of marbling.

Steak Basics for Beginners – How to Pick a Perfect Steak

What Does Steak Aging Do?

At Omaha Steaks you hear a lot about steak aging. You know it’s supposed to be good, but you might not know why. Steak aging is a simple, old-world butcher’s technique that ensures a delicious steak. Beef has the best texture a certain time after it’s cut. The challenge is getting the right, exact age. At Omaha Steaks every steak is aged at least 28 days – the ideal time for natural breakdown of the beef to create incredible tenderness. Private Reserve steaks are aged longer- 28 days or more for even more tenderness. Once aged to perfection, Omaha Steaks are carved by a team of master butchers.

Flash Freezing

Flash Freezing pauses the aging process and delivers the steak to you at the peak moment of perfection, so there’s no guesswork. Omaha Steaks individual vacuum-sealed package keep your steak perfect until you’re ready to cook.

These steak basics will help you take the guesswork out of picking a perfect steak. Stock your freezer with the best – aged-to-perfection, tender Omaha Steaks steak, conveniently delivered to your front door.

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Steak Basics for Beginners – How to Pick a Perfect Steak

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