With Father’s Day approaching and summer BBQ season underway, one great gift idea for dads would be a subscription to a mail-order steak company or a package of premium meats for grilling. However, shopping for either can be confusing. There are a variety of mail-order steak companies as there are a variety of meat cuts to choose from.
In order to help make the decision on what to look for when shopping for this tasty Father’s Day gift, ConsumerSearch.com, an award-winning web site that helps consumers make informed purchasing decisions, has put together a list of helpful information on mail-order steak companies and what to look for at the butcher or supermarket.
ConsumerSearch.com researched some of the most popular mail-order steak companies to find out how much moo you get for your moolah.
What you get: Omaha Steaks offers a wide selection of packages for all tastes and budgets. There are a handful of gift ideas under $50, such as four filet mignons, six filets wrapped in bacon and several combinations of cuts.
Shipping costs: Shipping is not included on any orders and costs will vary by location, delivery options and the size of your order.
Delivery options: All orders are a one-time delivery, unless you sign up for the monthly steak plan that provides recipients with two filets mignons and two boneless strips every month for 12 months. Your order will arrive in an insulated, reusable cooler packed with dry ice.
Kansas City Steaks
What you get: Kansas City Steaks is comparable to Omaha Steaks in terms of variety and costs. All orders include a seasoning packet, an exclusive cookbook and a personalized gift note free of charge.
Shipping costs: The biggest advantage of Kansas City Steaks versus Omaha Steaks is significantly lower shipping costs. Orders are delivered in two days unless you request overnight delivery.
Delivery options: You can purchase a single order or sign up for a monthly delivery plan. All orders are sealed in Cryovac packaging and placed in a company box, which is then shrink-wrapped in plastic and shipped in a Styrofoam container that’s filled with dry ice.
What you get: Lobel’s earned the best rating in our steak report www.consumersearch.com/steak. However, you have to be willing to splurge: gift packages will cost you anywhere from $185 to $2,000.
Shipping costs: Rates vary by the price of your order and the zone in which you live.
Delivery options: Meat is shipped in vacuum-sealed packages. Your order will be hand-packed into a Styrofoam cooler and preserved with frozen gel packs.
For more information on mail-order meat companies, please see this story on ConsumerSearch.com.
Premium Steaks for Grilling
When seeking the best steaks for grilling, it all comes down to grade, cut and color. Then once you have found the right slab of meat, ConsumerSearch.com has a few cooking tricks that will make your summer barbecue sizzle.
Get a good grade
An important factor to consider that influences both taste and consistency is the grade of the beef. The USDA assigns grades to various cuts of beef based on the amount of marbling and the age of the animal. Chances are, you’ll likely find these three grades of meat at your local butcher or supermarket: prime, choice and select.
· Prime – According to the USDA, this meat is superior in quality. Since it’s the most expensive grade, be prepared to drop some cash.
· Choice – Don’t fret if you can’t find or afford prime grade meat. Reviewers say choice beef is ideal for barbecuing.
· Select – This meat will likely be leaner and less tender. If select steak tastes bland, try a marinade or steak sauce to spice things up.
Choose the cut that’s right for you
Preference on the cut of meat depends solely on personal tastes. Many people buy sirloin steak because it’s leaner and cheaper than other cuts, but it has less fat so it can be drier and a bit tougher. Filet mignon is one of the most tender and leanest cuts of beef, but it’s not the tastiest to every palate. The same can be said of tenderloin and strip. Most experts recommend a rib eye or porterhouse for maximum flavor. The best advice: try them all until you decide which cut is your favorite.
Take a look at the marbling and color
Marbling is a great indicator of both flavor and fat content. This is a bit of a conundrum, particularly for the health conscious: Leaner beef has less marbling and less flavor. Conversely, more marbling means more tenderness and more fat. Thin streaks of marbling typically guarantee a more flavorful piece of meat. You should avoid steaks with thicker lines of marbling because they contain a lot of connective tissue, which makes the meat very tough. Color is a good indicator of a quality steak, so look for meat that is bright red with an even distribution of white marbling throughout.
Perfecting your steak selection
Here are six tips to make grilling steak even better:
1. Don’t trim the fat. According to experts, the outer fat layer will help the steak retain its shape and enhance its flavor.
2. Steaks cook best when they are kept at room temperature before grilling. Steaks at room temperature will absorb seasoning better and cook faster.
3. Oil the grilling rack. Apply a light coat of oil on the grilling rack before placing the steak on it. The oil will prevent steaks from sticking and cracking.
4. Let the steak rest for a few minutes before cutting it. This will allow juices to flow out from the center, enhancing flavor and tenderizing the meat.
5. Lose the fork. Handle steak with tongs or a spatula. A fork will cause the juices to leak out.
6. Don’t butcher the steak with a knife. It’s tempting to cut into a steak to determine whether it’s done, but this will leak out the flavor.