Steak-Out: The 11 Best Steaks In Westchester
By Amy Sowder and Diane Weintraub Pohl; featuring photography by Andre Baranowski
A thick, juicy steak has always been synonymous with success and celebration. A steak is not just dinner—it’s a reward. But what makes a steak great? What separates that standard supermarket grayish-pink hunk of shrink-wrapped beef from the sizzling, juicy, mouthwatering marvel at your favorite steakhouse? Despite its ostensible simplicity, a lot of care goes into making delicious cuts of beef. And it all starts on the ranch.
First, we owe that rich, savory flavor to the breeding—and feeding—of the cattle. Were the cattle grass-fed or grain-fed? Their diet will affect the way the steak tastes. For instance, grain-fed beef tends to have a richer, fattier flavor, while grass-fed has a beefier taste. Typically, cattle graze on pasture for the first six months to a year of their lives, and most finish at a feedlot on a concentrated mix of corn, soy, grains, supplements, hormones, and antibiotics—a process that speeds the animal to slaughter weight while enhancing fat marbling. Grass-fed cattle produce beef that, in addition to tasting meatier, usually has less marbling due to higher muscle mass.
And speaking of marbling, its importance cannot be under-
estimated. Those luscious white threads of fat within the steak that melt while cooking keep the meat juicy and tender while infusing it with flavor. In fact, marbling is so important, it’s a key factor that determines the cut of beef’s USDA rating; the more fat within the meat, the richer the taste and the higher the grade. Prime-rated beef accounts for the top 2 to 3 percent of all steaks and is generally available only from the finest purveyors. There’s choice and select as well; check out the various grades in the Steak Eater’s Requisite Terms box on page 143.
We sampled and savored more than 15 pounds of meat to select 11 steaks prepped and cooked by those who know how to do it best. Here is the result of all of our hard work.