A steak might seem simple to eat — slicing into the meat, chewing, swallowing, and dabbing your mouth with a napkin, and done. However, it can be trickier than you might think. No matter how much steak you eat, you’re likely to make a few mistakes now and then.
It’s important to know a few dos and don’ts before eating expensive cuts of meat like steak. If you’re eating steak at home or in a restaurant, there are many little ways to make mistakes, including poor etiquette and improper seasoning.
Here are some steak-eating mistakes you should avoid.
1. Using the wrong knife
If you’re going to eat a steak, think twice before grabbing a dull steak knife from the drawer. Eating a steak requires a special knife.
Steak knives are table knives with serrated edges and sharply pointed tips. The sharp edge will make cutting your steak easier at the dinner table. Many people can’t tell apart knives, which is okay unless you are a chef or a food critic! Even if you are just a foodie, knowing your knives will benefit you. The best way to differentiate between knives is by their shape. Learn more about kitchen knife shape in this article.
Any restaurant that serves meat dishes needs steak knives that are sharp, lightweight, and versatile. It’s your choice whether you want a knife with a serrated blade or a straight one – but it must be sharp.
Here’s a tip: Get a knife block or magnetic strip to hang your steak knives. Tossing them into your silverware cabinet isn’t the best way to keep them in tip-top shape.
2. Pairing it with the wrong wine
There’s no denying that steak is delicious on its own. A well-seasoned and perfectly cooked steak is savory, hearty, salty, and juicy. You just need a few side dishes to complete the meal.
You can dramatically enhance (or degrade) your meal experience with a good wine pairing. This is why a good wine pairing is always recommended when eating steak. Once you learn about the different types of wine on the market, choosing the right one won’t be difficult. Before heading to the liquor store, do your research before purchasing one.
3. Cutting the portions first, all at once
Cutting your steak all at once will cause it to cool more quickly, and you’ll soon be eating cold pieces of meat. Additionally, using your fork and knife to hack at your steak until it is all bite-sized pieces is bad etiquette, especially when dining with others.
Taking small intentional bites will allow you to savor the food. Also, your dinner guests will view you more favorably if you appear to know your manners at the table. There’s nothing to lose.
4. Trying it with just one topping
There’s nothing wrong with seasoning your steak with salt and pepper. It will still be delicious if you keep it simple.
However, one flavor each time will soon avert you from the royal meal, especially when there are so many other toppings to try.
While you can season your steak with almost anything, the most popular toppings are bacon strips, blue cheese chunks, and grilled mushrooms. Alternatively, you can explore the world of compound butter, which is basically butter that has been flavored or combined with other ingredients.
Additionally, you can add other meats to your steak if you’re looking for more of a surf-and-turf feel. Some popular choices include lobster, crab, and shrimp.
5. Over or under seasoning your steak
You will likely encounter a dizzying variety of seasonings, sauces, and spices on the aisle at your local grocery store, particularly those marketed as steak seasonings.
You’re not alone if you feel overwhelmed by the number of steak seasoning options available. It’s hard to season a steak perfectly every time, even for experienced chefs. If you season the meat too much, you may completely mask its flavor or create the dreaded dry mouth condition. However, if you add too little, you will end up with a bland, flavorless steak. So what to do?
Ideally, you should find a happy medium, which may require some practice. Start small, taste, then season as necessary. It’s easy to add more seasoning but difficult to remove, especially with salt, which is particularly overpowering. Skip the fancy steak seasoning bottles if you’re new at it. A simple salt and pepper combination is never a bad idea.
6. Overdoing it with the steak sauce
It is likely that you smothered your meat with tangy sauces like ketchup or mustard while eating with your parents and siblings as a child.
However, chefs and barbecue cooks are moving away from steak sauce as they believe it hides too much of the flavor of the meat. Adding sauce just to choke down a well-seasoned and well-cooked steak shouldn’t ruin its flavor, let alone mess with its seasoning.
Often chefs use the bottled sauce to hide the overdone or dry meat. Rather than relying heavily on the sauce to hide your mistakes, it’s best to fix the root of the problem.
You may want to consider a more grown-up sauce if you like your steak with sauce. A smoky bourbon pepper sauce to a rich blue cheese butter are just a few delicious homemade sauce recipes. There are virtually no limits to what you can do!
7. Avoiding steak fat
Even if you’re health conscious, a little fat on your steak won’t hurt you. The fat in your steak gives it flavor, texture, and depth. In addition to keeping the steak nice and juicy, it also enhances the taste of the steak. You know what we’re talking about if you’ve ever eaten a crispy, crunchy piece of perfectly cooked fat.
There’s a reason why ribeyes are so popular. Because of the marbling, your meat has swirls of fat throughout. These little pockets of fat melt during cooking, resulting in juicy flavor and moistness. These steals will never be dry! So savor that fat the next time you buy raw meat at a butcher shop or eat a perfectly marbled steak! And make sure it doesn’t go to waste!
8. Leaving it out there for too long
If you’ve ever had a backyard barbecue with many people at your home, you understand how easy it is to get distracted. After everyone else has eaten, you rush around to make sure they have everything they need. Meanwhile, your own steak has cooled off.
CDC warns against this practice. Food temperature might not seem relevant at first, but it’s incredibly important when it comes to food safety. What’s the reason? Between 40 and 140 degrees, Fahrenheit is the “danger zone,” where germs thrive. CDC guidelines state serving hot food hot and serving cold food cold. Disregarding this advice could lead to a nasty foodborne illness, which no one wants.
9. Not cutting your steak against the grain
It might seem safe to cut into your steak at the dinner table willy-nilly, in any direction you like. Though technically, this won’t hurt you, it can make chewing more difficult, which can ruin your entire meal experience.
When cutting steaks, it’s better to cut against the grain for perfect chewiness and texture. This phrase has probably been repeated to you, but what does it mean? Basically, you cut against muscle fibers rather than with them. The muscle fibers are visible in your steak as small, parallel lines. It is best to cut perpendicular to these lines whenever possible. The result is a tasty steak that melts in your mouth when you bite into it.
Even though steakhouse etiquettes are designed to create a formal-yet-friendly experience, all these stuffy rules might make you uncomfortable. Learning how to eat steak and what happens in a steakhouse doesn’t have to be intimidating or embarrassing. With your newfound knowledge, you can explore the menus and select the most savory dishes for your date. Knowing the different kinds of beef cuts is important to avoid looking uninformed and naïve at a restaurant.