5 Tips for Choosing a Good Rib Eye Steak
Rib eye steaks are insanely delicious and, if you ask us, they are probably one of the best steaks you can have. But of course not all rib eyes are created equal, so let’s find out what sets a great piece apart.
What Is a Rib Eye
Rib eye steaks are made out of the major muscle linked to a cow’s back, commonly known as the rib. The primary distinguishing feature of these cuts is the strip of fat on the top. Because this part of muscle is not heavily exercised (yes, there’s a connection between meat toughness and exercise), the meat is quite soft and delicious.
This is a particularly tender cut of beef, while poor grade cuts may be tougher. So, it’s critical to understand the factors to check for when purchasing quality steak cuts.
How To Pick The Best
Selecting the finest rib eye steak is subjective and is determined by the preparation method and individual taste. Rib eyes are lined with muscle fat, which gives them their well-known intense, meaty flavor. This is why it’s best to prepare it medium-rare.
Here are a few tips for choosing a great rib eye steak:
1. Choose Grass-Fed over Grain-Fed
Grass-fed steak is regarded as a healthier choice than grain-fed meat and has a more complex flavor profile. Grass-fed cows yield leaner meat as a result of their food and increased muscular activity, given the cows are allowed to roam free, though that’s not always the case.
Compared to grass-fed beef, grain-fed ones are given a diet that includes soy, corn, and other grains, which leads to more intramuscular fat and an even taste profile. Now this may sound counter-intuitive as a higher intramuscular fat level may be bad for your health, though it is also associated with a juicier piece of steak and richer flavor. But what makes grass-feed steak better is its more complex flavor profile. And of course it’s also a matter of taste, as both types of meat have their hardcore fans.
In terms of nutrition, grass-fed steak may contain higher Omega-3s, fatty acids, and vitamins A and E. So, the next time you shop for a rib eye steak, consider getting grass-fed ones, like those raised by Silver Fern Farms.
2. Understand the Beef Grade System
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) established a beef grading system that may help you in picking the best rib eye. Beef is graded according to its age and fat marbling. These two variables indicate the tenderness of the meat.
Prime is superior because of its high marbling content. Second comes Choice, which is commonly available in groceries and shops. This grade contains a fair amount of marbling; however, not as much as Prime. The third grade is Select, which is much leaner and has low-marbling content.
You might choose either of these three grades depending on your method of cooking. Prime cuts are best for dry-heat cooking methods such as roasting, frying, and grilling. While Choice cuts are a cheaper alternative to Prime, they are still super flavorful and can be braised or stewed.
Select cuts, on the other hand, are best for moist-heat cooking methods because they are leaner.
3. Look For Marbling
When selecting an excellent rib eye, one thing to check for is a good amount of marbling. This looks like white flecks of fat on the meat. Steaks with a high level of marbling are soft and tasty after cooking.
As mentioned, Prime cuts have the best marbling but they are also the most expensive. Choice cuts are reasonably priced and can also contain a good amount of fat. Select cuts contain minimal to zero marbling. However, if you’re aiming to reduce your fat and cholesterol intake, Select might be the right choice for you.
Now, remember that even within the same grade system, you can have some slightly different marbling levels. So don’t rely on the grade system alone to make your pick. Look out for the white flecks and pick a piece with lots of them.
4. Check the Thickness
Take into consideration the thickness of the steak if you want to get the best ones. The thickness of a good rib eye is important. Good thickness means you could prepare it to any temperature you desire while retaining all of its taste.
The best thickness is about one and a quarter inches, which should provide a proper ratio of browned exterior to juicy, soft center. Also, check for a rib eye that is sliced uniformly to ensure equal cooking.
5. Bone-in or Bone-out, Spinalis Muscle
There are some other considerations that might guide you in selecting the greatest rib eye. Among steak lovers, there’s a heated debate over the bone-in versus bone-out rib eye. Arguably bone-in steaks are more tasty and juicier, though not everyone agrees.
Also, it may be smart to pick a rib eye from the central part of the ribs. This portion often contains a larger cut of the spinalis muscle (the top part of the rib-eye), which many consider to be the best part of the rib eye.
The primary criterion for steak selection is the amount of marbling. The finest rib eye steaks will normally have a high amount of marbling. You should also check the source of the beef. If you prefer a healthier one, choose the grass-fed variety.
You may also consult the USDA grading system, particularly if you’re located in the States. A quality rib eye will be labeled Prime, but Choice cuts are also a cheaper alternative.