Before we answer that intriguing question, let’s explore the world of steaks and where they came from.
The First Red-Meat Eaters
One can only imagine the surprised look on the face of the first caveman who accidently roasted a chunk of wooly mammoth meat over a fire for the first time. Instead of the usual grunts complaining about how tough and hairy the raw meat was, a grinning smile probably lubricated his bearded face. As steaming-hot meat juice dripped from his lips for the first time, you can almost hear him say in Cro-Magnon lingo, “Yum…dis good!”
From that day forward, humans became meat lovers. Many civilizations around the world depended on meat to survive. Native American tribes lived on bison meat. Further to the north, caribou and seal and reindeer became staple foods of the indigenous peoples.
Since beef cattle were not native to North America, the consumption of beef here would depend upon someone introducing cattle to our shores from a foreign country.
History of Beef Cattle in America
The first beef cattle were brought to what is now Florida by Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon 1521. It’s believed some of the cattle escaped and survived in the wild, establishing the first cattle herds in America. Several cows arrived with the Pilgrim colonies in the early 1600s, but they were prized more for their milk than their meat.
Then in 1690, a herd of nearly 200 Spanish longhorn cattle was driven across the Rio Grande by Mexicans to use for food in their various missions. When Texas gained its independence from Mexico in 1836, the Mexicans abandoned the herds and fled south. Left to range free without human oversight, the cattle flourished. By the end of the Civil War, it’s estimated there were nearly 5 million wild longhorns romancing the countryside.
As veterans returned to Texas after the war, they quickly claimed land and established large cattle ranches to cash in on the supply of free range cattle. Those ranches became the root of the cattle industry that still prospers nationwide today.
The T-bone steak
is a very popular cut of meat because it is tender, juicy and has a very favorable medium fat content. The T-bone is actually two steaks in one. One side of the T-shaped bone that divides the steak is N.Y. strip steak and the other narrower side is tenderloin filet.
The T-bone is cut from the short loin of the beef cow. Some meat experts say the T-bone steak tends to be more tender than other cuts because they are cut from an area that is further away from the cow’s legs. This means less muscle action as the cow walks which translates to more tender meat.
T-bone and porterhouse steaks
look nearly identical. However, porterhouse steaks are cut along the rear of the short loin while the T-bone is cut closer to the front and contain slightly less of the tenderloin.
As to tenderloin content
, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's specifications states that a T-bone has to have a minimum width of .5 of inches of tenderloin running through it whereas the tenderloin portion of a porterhouse must be at least 1.25 inches thick. Many restaurants, however, often call steaks with a larger tenderloin T-bone despite not being technically correct.
What to look for when buying T-Bone Steaks
The most common advice on how to buy steak of any kind is to buy directly from a butcher who knows the cuts of meats and can help you pick out the perfect T-bone steak for your individual needs.
If that is not possible, then shop at a grocery store that has both packaged steaks and meat cases with individual steaks displayed. There should be a store butcher on duty who can come forward and help you in choosing the best cuts. If there is no butcher to assist you, check for the following as you examine the packaged steaks:
1. Avoid wrapped tray that has excess liquid surrounding the steak. This could mean the meat has been frozen and thawed, or it could mean the meat has been on display too long.
2. Don’t buy a steak if the Styrofoam tray is cracked or the plastic wrapping is torn.
3. Check the “sell-by” date on the label to make sure the steak is still fresh.
On a T-bone, look for a rich color and even fat marbling. Beef from cows that are grass-fed beef has a noticeable darker red color than a grain-finished beef.
USDA grading dictates the quality and price of the meat cuts. The highest grade, Prime, only accounts for 1- 2.5 percent of all processed beef, so don’t expect to find Prime grade T-bone steaks at your store. Even if they were available, you probably wouldn’t want to pay the high price.
Look for the next best grade, Choice. It’s leaner that Prime but still a very good quality
of meat and more in your price range. As for thickness, T-bones are usually cut about one inch thick to make an appropriate portion size for one person.
How Do You Cook a T-Bone Steak on the Stove Top?
Google this question and you’ll receive numerous answers. However, the following steps are the most common and produce consistent and favorable results:
Take the T-bone steak
from the refrigerator and let it rise to room temperature. This usually takes about a half hour.
Preheat your cast iron frying pan for about 5 minutes over high heat. While the pan is heating, rub the room-temperature T-Bone lightly with cooking oil on both sides before sprinkling with coarse sea salt and black pepper.
Place the T-bone carefully in the hot cast iron skillet. Sear on one side for about 7 minutes, flip it over and sear the other side for about 4 minutes for medium-rare. A meat thermometer should read 130 degrees F when the probe is inserted into the center of the steak.
If you want to sear the steak edges, hold the steak with tongs and press it against the pan until the edges are brown.
When finished, place the cooked steak onto a warm serving plate and cover with a tent of aluminum foil for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Why Use a Cast Iron Frying Pan?
The use of cast iron pans is universally recommended for stove top cooking. It has excellent heat retention properties, and it can be seasoned to produce a nearly non-stick surface. Here is a short list of reasons to use cast iron frying pans:
1.Even heat distribution-
Cast iron creates an even, intense heat across the total pan surface. That helps seal in juices to keep the meat moist and flavorful.
2 They are versatile:
You can use a cast iron pan to deep fry or sauté or to bake in. It’s just as handy as a baking pan in the oven as it is a grilling pan on the stove top.
Cast iron pans are less expensive than steel or other metal pans. And one cast iron pan can do the jobs that other metal pans require a number of different pans to accomplish.
Cast iron pans are durable and have a long lifespan. They are often passed down from generation to generation. And unlike other pans, old and worn cast iron pieces of can usually be refurbished with a good scrubbing.
Once a cast iron pan is seasoned correctly, food won’t stick to it. It also does not give off toxic fumes that non-stick pans do.
6. Easy to clean:
A stiff brush and hot water will do the trick.
How to Season your Cast Iron cookware
New cast-iron skillets needed to be seasoned properly to develop that non-stick surface. Here are the steps necessary to accomplish that:
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
2. Use warm, soapy water to wash the skillet. Use a sponge or stiff brush to thoroughly clean. This is the only time you’ll want to use soap. Once the pan is seasoned, soap is never used when cleaning after use.
3. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels.
4. Rub the pan with a thin coating of flax seed oil a paper towel of soft rag.
5. Place the pan in the preheated oven with the skillet upside down on the center rack.
6. Place a baking pan below the under rack to catch drips.
7. Bake at 325°F for sixty minutes.
8. Turn off oven. Allow the pan to cool down completely to room temperature, usually about two hours, then remove the pan from the oven.
9. For maximum results and to achieve a superior seasoned coating, repeat the process three or four more times or until the cast iron has a dark, semi-matte finish.
Restaurant Style Cooking T-Bone on Stove Top
For T-bone steaks that are extra thick, you might try using a style of cooking many upscale restaurants use called Sous-vide.
In this form of cooking, the chef seals the T-bone in an airtight plastic bag, then places the bag in a bath of temperature-controlled hot water.
Water kept at a temperature of between 131 to 140 °F will cook the meat to medium-rare finish but not beyond. The purpose of Sous-vide is to cook the meat from the inside to ensure that the middle of the extra thick steak is properly cooked without having to char or overcook the outside layer.
Just before serving, the T-bone steak is removed from the plastic bag and placed on a hot cast iron skillet for a short time until you get that crisp, dark crust on the top and bottom
. The inside remains a beautiful medium-rare pink.
What to Serve with a T-bone Steak Meal
For many people, the All-American meal consisted of a juicy T-bone steak, potatoes, a small salad or vegetable serving on the side and topped off with a piece of hot apple pie.
Here are some menu suggestions for your consideration:
Any style…baked, mashed, re-mashed, etc.
Green like asparagus or thin green beans.
Side Salad –
Small green salad with choice of dressing
Optional to your individual taste.
It’s no secret that people prefer red wines with their steak. Here are some favorites:
- California and Washington Cabernet Blends.
- Bordeaux. For those who prefer European-style wines.
- Malbec. The choice of most Argentinians, famed as steaks lovers.
- Zinfandel. Good if you’ve rubbed the steak with sweet spices or dried chilies.
The Nutrient Values in Red Meat
A 3.5-ounce portion of raw ground beef
with a 10 percent fat content contains the percentage of RDA requirements:
- Vitamin B3 - 25 %
Vitamin B12 - 37% (this vitamin is attainable only from meat, not plants).
- Vitamin B6 - 18%
- Iron -12% (High-quality heme-iron, better than iron from plants).
- Zinc - 32%
- Selenium - 24%
The calorie count in this meat portion is 176 along with 20 grams
of animal protein and 10 grams of fat.
Some tips to ensure your meat doesn’t form harmful cacogenic compounds:
- You can use gentler cooking methods like stewing and steaming instead of grilling and frying on meats other than cuts like the T-bone steak.
- Never expose your red meat to a flame.
- Do not eat the charred pieces of meat. If your steak is burnt, then cut away the burnt pieces.
- Marinating your steak meat in a liquid like red wine, lemon juice or olive oil along with garlic can reduce the harmful cacogenic compound (HCA) significantly.
Is Eating Red Meat bad for you?
Many nutritionists will tell you that the question of whether red meat contributes to heart disease and cancer has not been definitely answered. Tests results go both ways. But health-wise, too much of a good thing is often not a good thing. The same holds true with red meat.
Although red meat is a controversial food in the field of nutrition, red meat is, in fact, is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat when consumed in moderation.
Now that you know all there is to know about the marvels of the T-bone steak and how to cook it on your stove top, it’s time to test your newly-acquired expertise and invite friends over for a scrumptious steak dinner. If you don't want to cook it yourself, you can always visit us at Atlas Steakhouse - the best steakhouse in Brooklyn
. We guarantee that you will eat the best steak you've ever tried!