We’ve all been there. Standing in front of the butcher counter looking at all the options, like a kid in class who didn’t do the reading assignment, just hoping we aren’t called on next. Selecting the right cut of steak and knowing the best way to prep, season and prepare it can be a daunting task. Do not fear this Memorial Day weekend, Calandro’s is here to guide you through the process.
And what perfect timing! Summer is here and that means cooking outdoors with family and friends, especially on long holiday weekends. There is just something so fun about grilling out when the weather gets warm so sit back, get your grocery list ready, and read on for our tips and advice on all things steaks and grilling out.
At the Butcher Counter
Calandro’s has experienced, knowledgeable, master butchers available every day from store open until an hour before the store closes and we encourage you to take full advantage of that. Speaking of, meet P.T. Snyder. He’s currently the Meat Market Manager and Head Butcher @ Calandro’s Perkins, and while he has been with us for the last 18 years (since the Perkins Store opened!), he has over 29 years of experience in becoming one of Baton Rouge’s top, master, “restaurant-quality-cuts” butchers. We hope you will use all of PT’s years of experience as much as possible to help you select the very best steak for your grilling at home. In other words, don’t be afraid to ask for his help in pointing you in the right direction when choosing a cut of beef, pork, chicken, seafood, or any other meat department purchases. But just to get you started and your stomach growling, here are a couple tips straight from PT to keep in mind before you come into the store.
First, its important to remember that not all steaks are created equal. You’ll see all kinds of cuts of beef at the supermarket that have the word “steak” in their names but that doesn’t mean they will have the same tenderness or flavor. Chuck steak, blade steak, round steak, tip steak, or even sirloin steak are not the best choices for cooking the perfect steak. PT says to look for the word rib, loin, or strip in its name and start from there. The next thing to look for is marbling.
In the culinary arts, the word marbling refers to white streaks of fat (i.e. FLAVOR) within the lean sections of meat. Marbling is essentially intramuscular fat and the amount and spread of that marbling is one of the top criteria for judging the quality of a cut of beef. Typically, the more marbling you see within the steak, the better, or higher grade, the cut of meat. Lastly be on look out for quality designations, such as prime, choice and select. While not every steak you see at Calandro’s will have these designations; If they do, you can bet you’re getting quality meat, with USDA Prime being the best quality, followed by USDA Choice, then finally USDA Select.
Prep and Seasoning
There are so many ways to marinate and prep your steaks before grilling them and there really is not a wrong way to do it. But for cooking with dry heat such as grilling, a dry rub is a really great way to get a consistent flavor through out. The advantage of a dry rub is that it sticks better than a wet marinade and you can layer it thick to ensure to pack some real flavor into the meat.
As you know, here at Calandro’s we pride ourselves on supporting and promoting local brands as often as possible. While you can simply use salt and pepper, or try out making your own rub with your favorite spices and herbs from the pantry, we highly recommend letting our friends at the Red Stick Spice Company take care of that for you. We know they already have created a custom blend that will meet your needs. Pictured here is one of our faves, Rougarou, which is not only great on steaks but delicious on potatoes and even sprinkled on popcorn too !! Be sure to check out the plentiful selection of Red Stick Spice Company products carried regularly at our stores.The Art of Grillin’
Are you craving a steak yet?? Yea, we thought so…because just writing this we are too! But first, before you head to Calandro’s, here are a couple tips on grilling the perfect steak. Start by making sure your steaks are at room temp before you place them on your grill. Typically this just means removing them from the fridge for at least 20 minutes before any seasoning or dry rubbing.
Next, make sure your grill surface is clean – some wire brushes and even just a simple ball of aluminum foil are great for this. Our butcher-extraordinaire PT recommends 450-500 degrees C for perfectly seared steaks (this is synonymous with a “high” heat setting on most gas grills). You will want to establish two cooking zones on your grill surface – one side will be high heat for searing on the outside and the other will be considerably lower heat for the perfect “finishing” temp and color on the inside. Once your grill is good and hot with a “sear-side” and a “finishing-side” ready to go, sear on the hot side for 3-4 min with the lid closed and then flip the steaks and repeat. Finish cooking on not so high heat. The time for cooking them depends on their thickness and the way in which you like your steak prepared. Fun fact, the most common way Americans prefer their steaks is medium rare.
And when it comes to inner temperature and that perfect color, don’t guess, use a meat thermometer. Also remember that the steaks will continue to cook on the inside for a couple of minutes after you take them off, so keep this in mind too for that perfect level of doneness. Here’s a handy-dandy guide for the meat temperatures for all of the cooking preparations.
Rare – 120-125°F – Cool Red Center
Medium Rare – 130-135°F – Warm Red Center
Medium – 140-145°F – Warm Pink Center
Medium – 150-155°F – Slightly Pink Center
Well Done – 160+°F – No Pink
Now – after taking your steaks off the heat, allow them to “rest” under aluminum foil for about 10 minutes before serving or slicing (the juices on the inside will redistribute while the meat rests and it helps every inch of steak to be as juicy as possible!). Finally, serve your incredible, perfectly home-grilled Calandro’s steaks with any veggie side dish** directly from our always fresh produce department.
** Here is a link to a delicious asparagus side dish as seen plated here with that mouth watering Calandro’s steak.
EAT! (…and remember where you got that incredible steak from!) Phew! So you’ve run the gauntlet of learning how to make, and then ACTUALLY grill the perfect Calandro’s graded steak. What to do? If your carnivore instincts haven’t already taken over from that masterfully cut, wonderfully marbled, locally dry-rubbed, and perfectly home-grilled USDA steak calling your name right at that moment, then let us help…EAT IT! And while you bask in the glory of your backyard grill successes, remember that PT and our other master butchers have many, many more cuts of meats and seafoods @ both locations of Calandro’s to help you make all your summer grillin’ dreams come true.
So we’ll see you soon – and Happy Grilling Out There – from all the Meat Market @ Calandro’s!