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Mechanically Tenderized Meat Could Be Dangerous

Mechanically Tenderized Meat Could Be Dangerous

USDA proposes new labeling plan to combat foodborne illness

Mechanically tenderized meat could spread foodborne illness.

That extra-tender cut of beef could carry a foodborne illness if you’re not careful.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is proposing new regulations for the labeling of mechanically tenderized meat.

In the interest of protecting consumers from foodborne pathogens, the USDA is proposing a new labeling initiative. The initiative would require all mechanically tenderized meat to be clearly marked as such and would include instructions as to how to properly cook the meat to minimalize risk.

Officials worry that the mechanical process, in which needles or small blades puncture a piece of meat in order to break up muscle fibers, could increase the risk of foodborne illness. During the tenderization process, pathogens can be transferred from the exterior of the cut to the interior of the meat by the blades or needles as they pass through the flesh.

The Centers for Disease Control has reported five outbreaks of foodborne illness related to mechanically tenderized meat since 2003. These outbreaks apparently stemmed from improperly prepared meat in both private residences and in restaurants, most likely attributed to undercooking.

Top Meats That Can Make You Sick

Chicken and ground beef are often staples at the dinner table, but they're also the meat products most likely to make consumers sick, according to a new report.

The report, from the advocacy organization Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), ranks meat products based on their likelihood of causing severe illness.

At the top of the list was chicken. Between 1998 and 2010, chicken products, including roasted, grilled and ground chicken, were definitively linked to 452 outbreaks of foodborne illness and 6,896 cases of illness in the United States, the report says. (An outbreak was defined as two or more illnesses linked to a common food source.)

Ground beef came in second: The product was linked to 336 outbreaks and 3,801 cases of illness over the same time period.

The report identified other high-risk products, including were turkey and steak, which were responsible for 130 and 82 outbreaks, respectively. Deli meats, pork and roast beef were considered medium-risk products (linked to about 60 to 130 outbreaks) while ham, sausage and chicken nuggets were low-risk (linked to 34 to 57 outbreaks), the report said.

Sarah Klein, CSPI senior food safety attorney, urged Americans to "practice defensive eating" by assuming all meats are hazardous, and taking extra caution in handling, preparing and serving meats.

The report is based on information from 1,714 outbreaks involving 33,372 illnesses in the United States. Each meat product was given a score based on the number of illnesses it caused and the likelihood that people who fell ill from eating the product were hospitalized.

However, the findings are limited because the vast majority of people who fall ill from eating contaminated meat products do not visit the doctor, and their cases are not investigated by public health authorities, said Caroline Smith DeWaal, the food safety director at CSPI.

The bacteria Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 were responsible for about a third of illnesses, the report said. These pathogens most often contaminate meat products during slaughter or meat processing, the report says. The bacteria Clostridium perfringens, which can grow on food that sits out for too long and can cause illness if leftovers are not properly cooked, was responsible for another third of illnesses.

Some experts were critical of the report. Douglas Powell, a professor of food safety at Kansas State University, called the rankings a "gimmick" that distracts people from the big picture that all foods come with risks.

"To my mind, all food is risky and should be treated with care," Powell said. It's important, he said, "to treat all foods, not just meat, but produce — everything — as a potential sources of dangerous microorganisms."

Over the last decade, the biggest source of foodborne illness has been produce, which consumers often eat raw, he added.

Consumers should use a thermometer to tell when their food has reached the proper internal temperature, Powell said. They should thoroughly wash all produce and discard vegetable peels.

Other food safety tips include avoiding cross-contamination in the kitchen: Don't use the same cutting board for raw meat and uncooked foods, Klein said. Pork should be cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, beef to 160 and poultry to 165, Klein said.

The CSPI is looking to the food industry to reduce contamination of their products with bacteria such as Salmonella (primarily a concern with poultry) and E. coli O157:H7 (primarily a concern with ground beef). The organization also agrees with a USDA proposal to label mechanically tenderized steak. These steaks have been punctured with needles or blades that push pathogens into the interior of the product. Steaks that have been treated this way should not be served rare, but consumers have no way of knowing this, Powell said.

A report released last week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that overall, cases of foodborne illness have decreased in the last decade. However, the percentage of people sickened by the foodborne bacteria Campylobacter was 14 percent higher in 2012 than it was between 2006 and 2008, the report said.

Pass it on: Consumers should take care in handing and preparing all foods to avoid foodborne illness.

This story was provided by MyHealthNewsDaily, a sister site to LiveScience. Follow Rachael Rettner @RachaelRettner. Follow MyHealthNewsDaily @MyHealth_MHND, Facebook & Google+. Originally published on MyHealthNewsDaily.

You Asked: Why Can't I Eat Raw Meat?

S ushi restaurants are nearly as rampant as Starbucks stores. So why is raw fish okay to consume, while raw beef, pork and other land animals are typically not on the menu?

For one thing, the parasites and bacteria that set up shop in raw animal meat are different and more dangerous than the ones you&rsquod find in raw fish, says Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

From salmonella and parasitic E. coli to worms, flukes, and the virus hepatitis E, Tauxe says the creepy crawlies that may inhabit raw meat tend to be more harmful to humans than the microorganisms you&rsquod find in raw fish. &ldquoPerhaps it&rsquos because our bodies are more closely related to land animals than to those of fish,&rdquo he explains.

The way animals are slaughtered and packaged also has a lot to do with their health risks, says Dr. Eugene Muller, a microbiologist at Framingham State University in Massachusetts. &ldquoParasites and bacteria tend to come from an animal&rsquos gut, not its muscle,&rdquo he says. If your butcher nicks open an animal&rsquos intestines, any harmful microorganisms released could contaminate all the meat the butcher is preparing.

Packaged ground beef is particularly likely to house sickness-causing bacteria or parasites, says Dr. Lee-Ann Jaykus, professor of food science at North Carolina State University. That’s because a single package of ground beef could contain meat from dozens of cows, Jaykus says. &ldquoOne contaminated animal could corrupt dozens of batches,&rdquo she explains. For that reason, she advises never eating hamburger that&rsquos red or rare in the center.

Both Muller and Jaykus say whole cuts of beef are less risky because they come from a single animal. &ldquoAnything harmful lives on the surface of the meat, not inside the muscle,&rdquo Muller says. &ldquoSo if you like your steak very rare, just searing the outside will likely kill anything harmful.&rdquo

Jaykus agrees, but says you have to watch out for something called &ldquomechanically tenderized meat,&rdquo which involves puncturing the beef with small needles or blades to make it more tender. She says many restaurants and grocery stores sell meat that&rsquos undergone this process because it improves the texture of cheaper cuts like sirloin or round. &ldquoThis process can force contaminants into the muscle tissue where searing the outside won&rsquot kill them,&rdquo she says. &ldquoYou don&rsquot see this at high-end steakhouses, but it&rsquos an issue with steaks purchased for home cooking and in some restaurants.&rdquo

Most of these concerns and caveats also apply to lamb, pigs, chickens and other land animals&mdashthough Muller says pigs and chickens tend to carry some harmful microorganisms you don&rsquot find in cows or sheep. &ldquoBut I don&rsquot think many people really want to consume raw pig or raw chicken,&rdquo he adds.

Fish is a different story. Setting aside the differences between fish and mammals when it comes to the number, type, and frequency of potentially dangerous organisms they may harbor, fish tends not to be ground or mixed. That lowers the likelihood of a single disease-carrying salmon or tuna contaminating others, Jaykus says.

Also, any raw fish you consume at a sushi restaurant are caught in colder waters and frozen before you eat them. &ldquoThis kills the encysted worms and other parasites,&rdquo Tauxe says. Unfortunately, freezing doesn&rsquot kill parasitic E. coli and many of the harmful microorganisms you&rsquod find in meat, Muller says.

With raw fish, oysters and other uncooked seafood, you&rsquore taking a risk, Muller says&mdashthough not nearly as big a risk as eating that bloody tenderloin or tartare.

Guide To A Perfect Cooked Skirt Steak Recipe

This is a fool proof way to tenderize your skirt steak, I like the cut of meat over flank steak or meats labeled for London Broil which is not a cut of meat but a cooking method instead. The finished sliced steak is good in salads, , sandwiches, fajitas, wraps and more. Read more I hope this gives you some tips you may not know! My quide below See less

  • meats
  • beef
  • grill
  • broil
  • pan
  • fry
  • skirt
  • steak
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive
  • oil
  • rosemary
  • balsamic
  • vinegar
  • grill
  • meats
  • beef
  • grill
  • broil
  • pan
  • fry
  • skirt
  • steak
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive
  • oil
  • rosemary
  • balsamic
  • vinegar
  • grill

Schedule your weekly meals and get auto-generated shopping lists.

  • 1 skirt steak, even portions if possible ( meaning same thickness all over )
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • several cloves of chopped garlic
  • several sprngs of fresh rosemary
  • coarse kosher salt
  • fresh grated black pepper


  • 1 skirt steak, even portions if possible ( meaning same thickness all over ) shopping listshopping list
  • Balsamic or red wine vinegarshopping list
  • several cloves of chopped garlicshopping list
  • several sprngs of fresh rosemaryshopping list
  • coarse kosher saltshopping list
  • fresh grated black peppershopping list

How to make it

  • This is my guide to tenderizing steak or any other cut of leaner beef which needs to be tenderized
  • This works so well for me all the time.
  • Just by following a few simple steps you will have a leaner cut of beef, made flavorfull and tender.
  • If at at all possible at purchase , have the butcher run through a tenderizing machine which breaks up the fiber, if not you can do this easily at home see below
  • Prior to cooking have the steak at room temperature.
  • Use a meat mallet to pound it evenly on both sides
  • I often use my metal angel food cake fork to slam thin holes into the meat on both sides
  • Place meat into a zip lock platic bag or non metal bowl
  • Add a few Tbs of olive oil ( mabe 1/4 cup ) , few cloves of crushed garlic, few Tbs of vinegar and the fresh chopped rosemary and seal or cover, turning meat now and then when marinating in refregerator.
  • Never salt meat while marinating because the salt draws out the moisture from the meat.
  • Salt just before cooking only.
  • Marinate the meat for at least 4 hours and longer even better
  • Remove meat from refigerator and let get back to room temp
  • Cold meat does not cook evenly and as well as room temperature meat.
  • Now wipe off marinade from meat and , discard it .
  • Now is the time to salt and pepper the meat
  • Skirt streak ( as well as flank steak etc. ) may be grilled, broiled and pan cooked.
  • I usually broil in the winter, , grill in the summer but it does not matter
  • Broil meat 4 to 7 minutes on each side for medium rare, and a bit longer for more well done meat.
  • Broil about 3 to 4 inches from heat source.
  • I use about 5 minutes each side as a starting point
  • Let the meat sit about 10 minutes prior to cutting as cutting too soon will release the delcious juices which moisten the meat.
  • The last trick is to cut in thin slices with a sharp knife across /against /opposite direction of the grain (l fibers of the beef ) of the meat.
  • Last but not least, refrigerate uneaten portions
  • By the photo you can see I don't like my steak well done!
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Remember in step one, I mention this method can be used on "any" type of lean beef, so it could be flank steak, round steak etc. and not just skirt steak!!

In step 19 as Jimrug1 says, overcooking will dry out meat as meat tends to cook ffurther when off the grill, broiler etc,Its easy to cook less then to over cook!

Revisiting - Costco and the mechanically tenderized steak?

Hi, I've read here at Chowhound and in addition seen plenty of verification elsewhere that steaks sold by Costco US are often mechanically tenderized (micro needling).

But I've also seen reports (second hand, never found anything from Costco itself) that Costco said it would label any steaks so tenderized as such.

My FIL in a fit of his usual wonderful generosity just gifted me with ten pounds of Costco NY Strip steaks. These are labeled USDA PRIME, and nothing else (that is, no mention of mechanical tenderizing, or not).

I've spent 20 minutes on The Google and can't figure out yet whether the reports are true that Costco will always label those steaks which have been mechanically tenderized, as such.

Does anyone have any definitive info or sources on this? Can I accept that steaks from Costco which don't mention mechanical tenderization have not been so treated?

I've inspected the meat up close with a magnifying glass (PRESBYOPIA IZZABITCH) and can't see anything. Not that I'm sure one could tell, anyway, on physical inspection?

And my gut tells me, "why would anyone mechanically tenderize PRIME meat?"

But while most of us are really robust, I do have one somewhat more fragile family member at the moment for whom a dose of E. coli O157 would be more than a passing matter. I can of course just serve her steak from my usual source, which certifies no needling. But I'd still like to try to figure this out.

E. Coli

Eating undercooked ground beef is one of the main causes of E. coli, which can cause symptoms including diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps. These symptoms usually occur between two and eight days after eating contaminated food and can last for up to a week. E.coli is usually found mainly on the surface of the meat, so searing the outside sometimes kills off enough of the pathogens for you to safely eat beef that isn’t well done. However, some meat available from restaurants and grocery stores have been mechanically tenderized, which can introduce these bacteria further into the meat. Cook mechanically-tenderized meat until it is at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit in the center, as this is the only way to kill off all of the bacteria and prevent illness.


A. Some people are afraid to use meat tenderizers because they conclude that any chemical "concoction" that will tenderize meat is powerful enough to tenderize the lining of the stomach. However, the active ingredient in meat tenderizers, which is an enzyme called papain derived from the papaya plant, is destroyed in the cooking process. Furthermore, if any papain should happen to get to the stomach in its active state, the gastric juices will render it harmless.

Adolph's produces several types of meat tenderizers. The original formula contains as much sodium as a teaspoon of salt per serving, but the unsalted formula is virtually sodium-free. People allergic to whey or yellow cornmeal might not be able to use this product. There is no reason why meat tenderizers should cause health problems.

According to On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee, "You should know that meat tenderizers do not accomplish much until they reach a temperature of 140 to 175 (degrees) F., so there is no point in letting them sit on the meat at room temperature." Albert Levie in the Meat Handbook states that "enzyme tenderizers may have a definite negative taste contribution which occurs while chewing, as well as an aftertaste." They also can make the texture of meat rather mushy if they are overused. Poking holes in the meat with a fork to distribute the tenderizer is effective, but causes fluid loss and hence drier meat.

McGee feels that "in general, there are at present no really satisfactory ways of tenderizing meat chemically."

Q. I have noticed on milk cartons that there are two types of vitamin D -- D2 and D3. I would like to know if they are derived from different sources. -- June Brown, Danbury, N.H.

A. There have been about 10 different compounds that have been identified with vitamin D activity. Two of them, vitamins D2 and D3, are of practical importance today from the standpoint of their occurrence in foods. Vitamin D2, also known as ergocalciferol, was isolated in 1932. Vitamin D3, known also as cholecalciferol, was isolated in 1936. These substances are closely related chemically, and the term vitamin D is used collectively to indicate the group of substances that show this vitamin activity.

In other words, the manufacturer, instead of simply saying vitamin D, which encompasses a group of compounds, is being more specific. D2 and D3 are the only compounds that are necessary.

A quart of vitamin D-fortified milk provides the amount of vitamin D recommended for one day. The two other sources of this vitamin are sunshine and animal foods (meat, fish, eggs, cheese, butter).


Mrs. Harley Randolph, Colorado Springs: "A reader wrote you recently concerning gluten-free foods. Here is some information for those with a similar problem. Two good sources with a full line of products are: Ener-G Foods Inc., P.O. Box 24723, 6901 Fox Ave. S., Seattle, Wash. 98124-0723, 1-206-767-6660 and Anglo-Dietetics, P.O. Box 333, Wilton, Conn. 06897 1-203-762-2504. Also, one could contact the Celiac-Sprue Association/USA, 2313 Rocklyn Drive 1, Des Moines, Iowa 50322. Membership is $15 a year, and well worth it as they send quarterly bulletins about new food products that are gluten-free, the latest in research, meetings, support group news, recipes, etc.

"Gliadin, only one part of gluten, is the part that does the damage, and is in wheat, oats, rye and barley. The gluten (gliadin) damages the lining of the small intestine so nutrients cannot be absorbed. The only way to be sure one has celiac-sprue is by a biopsy of the small intestine.

"Gluten also appears in modified food starch, emulsifiers, stabilizers and various other added ingredients, which makes shopping very hard, and label- reading a must. The CSA/USA could also recommend several good books on the gluten problem, and some recipes.

"Since I have this problem myself, and did for 15 years before it was diagnosed, I realize the problems one has, especially if not treated, and diet is the only way it can be done."

5. Let the Knife Do Some Chewing for You

  • Cut the connective tissue to make it more tender. Slice the cooked meat thinly, against the grain. Your knife should bisect the muscle fibers, not follow them. This is especially important for flank and skirt steaks.
  • You can also use your knife to perforate the outer surface of the raw meat before you marinate or salt.
  • If you have a meat grinder, you can take it to the next level by turning tough cuts into tender ground meats.

6 Easy Ways to Tame Tough Cuts of Meat & Save Your Summer BBQ

Nothing takes the wind out of your sails quite like biting into a hunk of steak only to find out the sucker is chewy. Really, what’s worse than tough meat? Now that we’re at the peak of grilling season, there’s simply no excuse to still be eating tough meat &mdash especially when there are so many ways to turn it into a restaurant-quality piece of protein.

It has happened to the best of us &mdash and it’s usually because we didn’t splurge on that pricey cut (or sometimes it’s because you went with a leaner organic cut, which can actually be more expensive). Either way, you don’t have to suffer the tough consequences. There are methods for tenderizing your meat that don’t require an overnight marinade.

Our mission at SheKnows is to empower and inspire women, and we only feature products we think you&rsquoll love as much as we do. Please note that if you purchase something by clicking on a link within this story, we may receive a small commission of the sale.

1. Beat it

Pounding meat with a mallet is a surprisingly effective way to tenderize it. The downside is that it can actually work too well, turning your meat into mush. Special tenderizer tools made up of dozens of sharp needles or points that pierce the meat (like this KitchenAid meat tenderizer or this Jaccard meat tenderizer) are a more delicate way of mechanically tenderizing your meat. This does less damage to the meat fibers.

2. Marinate with acid

Acids can help break down tough meat. Soaking meat in a marinade made with lemon or lime juice, vinegar, buttermilk or even yogurt can help tenderize tough proteins. The key is to not leave the meat in the marinade for too long, as acids can weaken the protein structure of the meat too much, making it too soft and mushy. Aim for 30 minutes to two hours, but check periodically to see if the meat is starting to look cooked around the edges. That’s how you’ll know it’s been marinating too long.

3. Marinate with enzymes

Several fruits, such as papaya, pineapple, kiwi and Asian pear, contain enzymes that help tenderize meat. Try puréeing these fruits and adding some of your favorite seasonings to make a marinade that will leave you with juicy, tender meat. Just don’t leave any meat in pineapple too long. Bromelain, the powerful enzyme found in this fruit, can work a little too well.

4. Salt it

Heavily salting a tough cut of meat and letting it sit an hour or two before you cook it is an effective way to break down tough muscle fibers, no fussy marinade needed. When you’re ready to cook, just rinse off the salt, pat the meat dry and add it to a hot skillet.

5. Slice it right

There are a couple of clever knife tricks that can make meat seem more tender. One is scoring. That’s when you make shallow cuts (not cutting all the way through) across the surface of a thin steak like skirt or flank. This method can help break up tough proteins and also helps the meat absorb tenderizing marinades more easily.

The second meat-tenderizing knife trick is slicing cooked steak thinly, across the grain. The idea is to break up the long, tough meat fibers so they are shorter and thus easier to chew.

6. Slow-cook it

Cooking tough cuts of meat with low-temperature heat over a long period of time is a great way to tenderize it. Tough fibers, collagen and connective tissues will break down, leaving you with tender meat. Try using a slow cooker, or braise with broth or other liquids in a covered dish in the oven.

A version of this article was originally published in February 2016.


The word steak originates from the mid-15th century Scandinavian word steik, or stickna' in the Middle English dialect, along with the Old Norse word steikja. [5] The Oxford English Dictionary's first reference is to "a thick slice of meat cut for roasting or grilling or frying, sometimes used in a pie or pudding especially a piece cut from the hind-quarters of the animal." Subsequent parts of the entry, however, refer to "steak fish", which referred to "cod of a size suitable for cutting into steaks", and also "steak-raid", which was a custom among Scottish Highlanders of giving some cattle being driven through a gentleman's land to the owner. [6] An early written usage of the word "stekys" comes from a 15th-century cookbook, and makes reference to both beef or venison steaks. [7]

Livestock for meat to be used as steak cuts may be raised on a farm or ranch. The meat from various wild game may also be used for steak cuts.

A sheep ranch (Estancia) in Argentina

Countries with enough suitable land for grazing animals, in particular cattle, have a history of production and culinary use of steak. Such countries include Argentina, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, the United States, and the United Kingdom. In Asian countries, such as China and South Korea, steak is traditionally sliced and stir-fried and served in smaller amounts as part of a mixed dish. [8]


In Argentina, beef represents a large portion of the country's export market. A total of 11.8 million animals was harvested in 2010. The country has one of the largest consumptions of beef per capita worldwide, [9] and much of it is grilled steak. Beef steak consumption is described as part of the "Argentine national identity". [10] In 2010, 244,000 cattle producers were in Argentina. [11] In Argentina, steakhouses are referred to as parrillas, which are common throughout the country. [12] Portion sizes of steak dishes in Argentine restaurants tend to be large, with steaks weighing over 454 grams (1 lb) being commonplace. [13] Asado is a traditional dish that often includes steak and is also the standard word for "grilled" in Argentina and other countries. Asado is considered a national dish of the country. [14]


Domestic and international marketing of Australian beef is undertaken by Meat & Livestock Australia, a corporation which runs programs related to quality assurance, sustainable production, and environmental considerations, through organizations such as Meat Standards Australia. [15]


The Irish agricultural beef market is a contributor to the economy of Ireland. A significant amount of Irish beef is exported to other countries, with over 50% going to the United Kingdom. [16]

New Zealand

The "Steak of Origin" competition has been run for a decade on behalf of the Beef+Lamb Corporation of New Zealand. It "aims to find the most tender and tasty sirloin steak" in the country. Criteria for judging claims to include tenderness, pH, marbling and percentage cooking loss", but while these data are collected for each entrant steak, only the shear force (correlated to perceived tenderness) determines qualification to a tasting panel, at which objective taste from a panel determines the winner. The pH is used solely to disqualify entrants and neither the 'marbling' or the cooking loss have any effect on the outcome of the competition at any stage. Their parallel competition, which they run for lamb legs (glammies) does take into account some of these other metrics when weighting the entrants for their ranking within the competition. [17]

United Kingdom

According to a survey by trade magazine Caterer and Hotelkeeper, the most popular dinner menu in British restaurants in the 1980s included steak: prawn cocktail, steak and Black Forest gateau. [18]

Cattle breeds such as Hereford or Aberdeen Angus date back to the 1700s, and farmers continue to raise cattle sired by registered pedigree bulls. Bullocks, which live outdoors year-round, grow slowly as they would in their natural habitat, ultimately producing a distinctly tender meat. [19] Around 2,200,000 cattle are slaughtered for beef each year in the United Kingdom. [20]

United States

In the United States, cuts of beef for retail sale include various beefsteaks, as well as stew meat and hamburger meat. [21] In the U.S. circa 1956, about 24% of retail beef cuts were steaks. [21]

Beef production is the largest single agricultural venture in the United States, with 687,540 farms raising cattle and over a million in the production process, as of the 2007 Agriculture Census. On average, a single farm typically raises about 50 cattle at a time, with 97% of the cattle farms classified as one of these small family farms. These smaller farms average a gross cash income of $62,286 per year as of 2007. [22] [23]

Beef steaks are commonly grilled or occasionally fried. Grilled beef steaks can be cooked at different temperatures, or for different lengths of time the resulting cooked steak ranges from blue (very rare) to overdone. The most common characteristics of a rare steak is a soft, cold, red center. The outside is seared for flavor, while the inside is cooked to suit the diner's preference. Steaks cooked well done are usually cooked throughout the entire cut of meat. For example, a beefsteak cooked well done will not have any pinkness in the middle when sliced. Uncooked beef steak can be served raw, such as in steak tartare.

Fish steaks are generally cooked for a short time, as the flesh cooks quickly, especially when grilled. Fish steaks, such as tuna, can also be cooked to various temperatures, such as rare and medium rare. [24] The different cuts of steak are – rib eye, sirloin, tenderloin, rump, porterhouse, and t-bone. [25]

Cuts of steak are quite dissimilar between countries owing to different methods of cutting up the carcass. The result is that a steak found in one country is not the same as in another, although the recipes may be the same, differing "only in their sauces, butters, or garnitures". [26]

Most important is trying to achieve Maillard reaction on meat to ensure that restaurant-quality steak results each time. [27]

  • Entrecôte: rib steak, cut from the fore and wing end parts of the rib roast sections, ribs 9–11
  • Romsteck or rumsteck: rump steak cut from the part of the rump which faces the large end of the filet. This cut needs to be best quality, well-aged.
  • Faux filet or contre filet: the boneless uppercut of the loin, corresponding to the larger, less tender part of a porterhouse or T-bone steak
  • Bifteck: cut from the larger, less tender end of the filet, or any lean, boneless steak from a reasonably tender part of the animal
  • Châteaubriand: corresponds to the undercut or filet portion of a porterhouse steak. [26]

Down on the place d'Armes near Racouchot's, there was a restaurant . the Pré Aux Clercs . [that] made very good grilled rare steaks with watercress, which at that time were beginning to be in great vogue in the big cities among the younger generation . les sportifs. but were dismissed with impatient disgust by older gourmands raised in the intricate traditions of fine sauces and culinary disguise. It was like the Chateaubriant at the other end of the town, also known mostly for its steak and watercress and french fries. M. F. K. Fisher, writing about dining in Dijon in 1929. [28]

Steak has become a popular dish in many places around the world, cooked in domestic and professional kitchens, and is often a primary ingredient in a menu. It is used in small amounts in an hors d'oeuvre, in an entrée dish or, more usually, in a larger amount as the main course. Steak has also been an important breakfast dish, especially for people undertaking hard outdoor work, such as farmers. [29] Diners ordering steak at a restaurant typically advise the chef or waiter of their preferences regarding the degree of cooking, using the terms "rare", "medium rare", "medium", "medium well", or "well done". Print appearances of this use of "rare" are found as early as around 1615. [30] A steak knife is a specialized piece of cutlery to make cutting the steak easier it is sharper than other knives and may have a serrated edge.

Steak clubs

Beefsteak Clubs were once part of London's club life. They were described as "a club of ancient institution in every theatre when the principal performers dined one day in the week together (generally Saturday), and authors and other geniuses were admitted members." [31] Dr Johnson's club in Ivy lane was originally a Beef-Steak Club and the "Rump-Steak or Liberty Club" was in existence from 1733–34. [31] The present-day Beefsteak Club, established in 1876, is at 9 Irving Street, London. Among its members are many notable people.


A steakhouse is a restaurant that specializes in beefsteaks and other individual portions of meat. Chophouses started in London in the 1690s, and served individual portions of meat, known as chops. [32] The houses were normally only open for men for example, women were only admitted to Stone's Chop House in 1921. [33] [34] Accounts of travellers in 19th-century London refer to their "dining off mutton chop, rump steak and a 'weal' cutlet", as well as hams and sirloins. [35]

Delmonico's restaurant in New York City, which opened in 1827 and stayed open for almost 100 years, has been described as "the most famous steak restaurant in American history". [36] Delmonico steak refers to a method of preparation from one of several cuts of beef (typically the rib cut) prepared Delmonico style, originally from the mid-19th century. [37]

Hundreds of restaurants continue to specialize in serving steak, describing themselves as "steakhouses", competing for culinary awards and aiming for culinary excellence.

Sauces and condiments

Classic sauces and seasonings to accompany steak include:

Commercially produced bottled sauces for steak and pre-mixed spices are also popular. In 2012 in the U.S., A1 Steak Sauce had slightly over 50% of the market share for all meat sauce products, and was the category leader. [39] Montreal steak seasoning is a spice mix used to flavor steak and grilled meats that was based on the pickling dry-rub mix used in preparing Montreal smoked meat. [40]

Steak and other meat products can be frozen and exported, but before the invention of commercial refrigeration, transporting meat over long distances was impossible. Communities had to rely on what was locally available, which determined the forms and tradition of meat consumption. Hunter-gathering peoples cut steaks from local indigenous animals. For example, Sami cuisine relies partly on the meat of the reindeer the Inuit diet uses locally caught sea-mammal meat from whales Indigenous Australians ate kangaroo and indigenous North American food included bison steak. In the Middle East, meat recipes from medieval times onwards simply state "meat" without specifying the kind or cut "apart from an occasional gazelle, kid or camel", only lamb and mutton were eaten because cattle were seldom bred. [41]

In contemporary Argentina, where steak consumption is very high, [9] steak is a significant part of the national cuisine and the asado has the status of a national dish. In Austria, the national dish is Wiener Schnitzel, which is a type of steak made from veal. Advice on butchery and recipes for American black bear steak and chops is provided by New Jersey (US) government. [42]


Vegans are against the production and consumption of steak as they view the slaughter and treatment of cows as unethical. Vegan activists regularly hold protests against steakhouses. [43] [ better source needed ]


Many types of beefsteak exist. The more tender cuts of beef, from the loin and rib, are cooked quickly, using dry heat, and served whole. Less tender cuts from the chuck or round are cooked with moist heat or are mechanically tenderized (e.g. cube steak). Beef steak can be cooked to a level of very rare (bleu, a cold raw center), rare, medium rare, medium, medium well, or well done. Pittsburgh rare is charred on the outside. Beef, unlike some other meats, does not need to be cooked through. Food-borne human illnesses are not normally found within a beef steak, though surfaces can potentially be contaminated from handling, thus very rare steak (seared on the outside and raw within) is generally accepted as safe.

Beef steak is graded for quality, with higher prices for higher quality. Generally, the higher the quality, the more tender the beef, the less time is needed for cooking, or the better the flavor. For example, beef tenderloin is the most tender [44] and wagyu, such as Kobe beef from Japan, is known for its high quality and commands a high price. [45] Steak can be cooked relatively quickly compared to other cuts of meat, particularly when cooked at very high temperatures, such as by broiling or grilling.

The quality and safety of steak as a food product is regulated by law. Australia has National Meat Accreditation standards [46] Canada has the Canadian Beef Grading Agency [47] in the United Kingdom, the Food Standards Agency is responsible [48] in the United States, young beef is graded by the United States Department of Agriculture as Select, Choice or Prime, [49] where "Prime" refers to beef of the highest quality, typically that which has significant marbling. [49] In 1996 in the U.S., only 2.4% of cattle were graded as prime, [50] and most Prime beef is sold in restaurants and hotels. [49]

Inspected beef carcasses tagged by the USDA

High grade sliced Matsusaka wagyu beef (rib section meat)

The wide range of quickly prepared and well-known beef steak dishes includes minute steak, steak sandwiches, and steak and eggs. "Surf and turf", which combines meat and fish, requires more time to prepare. Steak meat is also often minced, shredded, chopped finely or formed to create a range of dishes, including steak burgers, that retain the name "steak". Other such dishes include:

    – a breaded cutlet dish consisting of a piece of steak (tenderized cube steak) coated with seasonedflour and pan-fried. It is associated with U.S. Southern cuisine. – a beefsteak shaped into a patty to be cooked after being minced. It is similar to the Salisbury steak. Made popular worldwide by the migrating Germans, it became a mainstream dish around the start of the 19th century. – a class of beef steaks made from smaller pieces of beef fused together by a binding agent. Its development started in the 1970s. , first recorded in 1897 and named after James Salisbury, a doctor during the American Civil War, who recommended people eat hamburger three times per day. During World War I, American soldiers replaced the word "hamburger" with Salisbury steak for political reasons. [51]

Fish steak

Fish steaks are cut perpendicular to the spine and include bones. Although their delicate flesh requires quicker cooking than beef, steaks from swordfish, halibut, tuna, salmon, and mahi-mahi can be grilled. They are frequently cooked whole or as fillets. Fish steaks may also be poached or baked using a court bouillon, wine or sauce or cooked en papillote. [52]

Commercial sashimi tuna steaks may have their coloration fixated by the use of flushing with carbon monoxide (CO), whereby CO is pumped into bags containing the tuna, which is then stored at 4 °C. [53] The duration of time for color fixation to occur varies per the size of the meat. For example, a 2-inch tuna steak takes 24 hours for color fixation to be completed using this process. [53] When used, color fixation using CO occurs prior to the vacuum sealing of tuna steaks for storage. [53] In Japan, color fixation using CO is prohibited. [53]

Swordfish steaks for sale at a market

Tuna steak served in a French bistro

Lamb steak

Lamb steaks come from a range of cuts and are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a range of dishes. It is commonly found sliced into salads. [54]

Pork steak

Pork steaks are generally cut from the shoulder of the pig, but can also be cut from the loin or leg of the pig. Shoulder steaks are cut from the same primal cut of meat most commonly used for pulled pork, and can be quite tough without long cooking times due to the high amount of collagen in the meat therefore, pork shoulder steaks are often cooked slower than a typical beef steak, and may be stewed or simmered in barbecue sauce during cooking.

Cooked gammon steaks are a component of a full breakfast, whereas steaks from a rolled pork loin are more likely to be served at lunch.

A Boston butt is a pork steak originating from colonial New England, where butchers would pack less valuable cuts of pork in barrels, called butts. [55]

Frozen ham steak for sale in Hong Kong

Chicken steak

Thick sliced or chopped and formed chicken is used to create mainly traditional southern dishes such as chicken fried chicken. [56] This may also refer to beef cuts such as a hip steak or a shoulder blade steak, [57] or a small portion of chuck steak with a visible line of white connective tissue. [58]

Vegetarian alternatives

Sliced vegetables can be used as vegetarian nonmeat "steak" alternatives, such as cauliflower, portobello mushrooms, and eggplant. [59] Beans and legumes (such as soybeans) have also been used to form steak-like foods. [60] [61] [62] Watermelon steaks are sliced and cooked pieces of watermelon.

In 2019, the European Union included steak as one of the protected designations under a revised regulation that passed with 80% approval. The decision will be put to member states and the European commission. The change was “designed to protect meat-related terms and names exclusively for edible parts of the animals”. It was felt that “steak should be kept for real steak with meat” and that a new name was needed for new non-meat products so that people know what they are eating. [63]