How to cook cheap cuts of red meat

This is a yummy post. You’re going to head to Sam’s Club for kosher salt, tongs and steak after you read this. Two articles, combined, led me to write this post. The first, teaches you how to prepare steak; second, I’ll tell you where to buy and how to cook the steak.

Why eat red meat? Because it’s one of your best sources of iron. Iron’s job is to carry oxygen in the red blood cells to the muscles, and gives you energy. Too little iron, and you can develop anemia. Iron cannot be found in chicken, or pork.

Iron-fortified cereal is great, but if you pour milk on your cereal, phosphates in calcium block your body’s absorption of iron. If you eat spinach, oxalic acid blocks iron absorption as well. This is why vegetarians are so smart — they’ve figured all of this out, and know how to eat the right foods, at the right time, so they get the right nutrients.

I’m not that smart. I have to eat red meat. But how to cook it perfectly? First, realize that the drive for ethanol is driving up the price of beef. When cows eat corn, it gives that marble-effect to the meat. Now, farmers are selling the corn for ethanol; higher demand, higher price. (Oh, what a tangled web we weave.)

The first goodie I have for you is a mouth watering post on how to prepare a cheap cut of meat, so it will be tender and juicy, from Jaden’s Steamy Kitchen, called How to Turn Cheap “Choice” Steaks Into Gucci Prime Steaks. Complete with photos, and science slides on osmosis, she explains how salt, lots of salt, can transform a cheap steak into a mouth-watering morsel.

Now, how to cook it, so its tender and juicy. The second article, The Search for the Perfect Steak, WSJ, September 8, 2007, was gleaned from none other than Elias Iglesias, chef at the New York branch of Morton’s. These instructions came directly from his kitchen:

Use tongs, not a fork. The reason cookbooks always tell you to let meat rest for a few minutes after the meat is done is because the meat needs time to distribute its juices. Piercing the meat makes all the juices run to that point, and out, without giving the juices a chance to spread out. So, never turn your meat with a fork. Use tongs.

Shop at the Big Box Stores. Believe it or not, Costco or Sam’s Club is the place to buy your meat. You want USDA Choice Beef. It’s not prime, so it’s cheaper. It’s not select, which is the less flavorful stuff at the supermarket. Mr. Iglesias “happily cooks choice meat at home, often buying whole loins at big-box stores such as BJ’s or Costco. If you like filet mignon, look for a cut labeled beef tenderloin; for strip steaks, buy strip loin.”

Once you’ve drenched your steaks in salt, following Jaden’s guidelines, here’s what the WSJ learned from Mr. Iglesias on how to cook steak on the stove top, followed by his adaptations for repeating the same method on the grill.

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with a rack set in the middle.
  2. Heat a heavy, cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, until a few drops of water sprinkled in the hot pan evaporate within 3 seconds.
  3. Coat the bottom of the pan with 2 teaspoons of extra light olive oil, grapeseed or canola oil. (Always from a glass bottle.)
  4. Liberally salt the steaks with kosher salt, about 3/4 teaspoon for each steak.
  5. Place steaks in pan and sear for 2 minutes on each side, flipping only once with tongs.
  6. Transfer the steaks, still in the pan, to the oven and roast for roughly 8 to 9 minutes for 11/2-inch steaks to achieve medium-rare (an instant-read thermometer should register between 125 and 130 degrees).
  7. Let the steaks rest, under a tent of aluminum foil, for 5 minutes before serving.

On the grill, sear first over high heat, and then move the steaks to a cooler part of the grill to finish cooking.Read more here. Now, who has a recipe for a great Béarnaise sauce?

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13 comments to “How to cook cheap cuts of red meat”
  1. We love steak at home and I have been looking for the perfect way of cooking steak.
    I will try this – as soon as I have time to go buy the steaks of course.
    Thanks Susie!

  2. It’s funny you posted this today because I have no idea how to cook red meat. We didn’t eat a lot of red meat growing up- I guess just hamburger- and I have been on again, off again vegetarian throughout my life. When we did eat meat, it was basically chicken, turkey, some fish. Now that we are getting older, I feel like we need to eat more susbstantial meats but I just never knew about cuts or making them… so this was really helpful! Thanks, Susie!

  3. This vegetarian is not so smart – I have to take iron supplements in order to function! I tend to just fling meat in the oven, but my husband is a big fan of steak and I might try this method next time. Eating meat puts him in a good mood!

  4. Though kiss your low blood-pressure goodbye! I’m on a low-salt diet – haven’t put salt on my food for two years since being diagnosed with hyper-tension. The clinic basically said that the only research that seemed clearly linked with lowering HT was reducing salt. I’m sure it isn’t a problem as a treat every now and then, though!

  5. You know, (un)relaxeddad, that brings up a good point. I was just getting ready to e-mail my Dad to let him know about this — as he LOVES steak. But I stopped, and remembered his high blood pressure.

    I’m not sure if this method would hurt, as all of the salt is washed off, and the salt works as a tenderizer. And meat does not taste salty… but for people that need to restrict salt, this method is probably not the smartest thing.

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