Ask a Butcher: Kate Kavanaugh On Cooking Steak at Home, Grass-fed vs. Corn-fed Beef, & More
Improve your grill skills with a little help from Kate Kavanaugh, CEO of Western Daughters Butcher Shoppe in Denver.
Q. Let’s talk cuts. What’s your go-to for grilling?
A. My favorite is bavette steak, sometimes called sirloin flap. It's rich, buttery, and super flavorful. Another good option is flat iron—fairly fatty, really beefy, and the second-most tender muscle in a steer's body. Best of all, at around $10 per pound, neither cut will give you sticker shock.
Q. Anything to avoid?
A. Any cut can be adapted to the grill. More tender meats are great for fast cooking, but larger and slow-cooking cuts can also be done at lower temperatures.
Q. Grass-fed or corn-fed?
A. Grass-fed beef is good for your body, and it's good for the environment. It's also more flavorful because the animals get more exercise and have a varied diet. To ensure juiciness, look for cuts with the most fat. And don't walk away when cooking because grass-fed usually cooks faster than corn-fed!
Q. Should I use a marinade?
A. Marinades add flavor and help tenderize meats with a tougher constitution, like skirt steak. They're really just salt, fat, and acid, which can be anything from citrus juice to vinegar to alcohol. I've been doing this sangria marinade lately: sea salt, blood orange juice, red or white wine, and ghee because it has a high smoke point. Marinate meat for 3 to 12 hours. Overmarinating can cause a mealy texture.
Related Recipe: Mezcal-Marinated Steak Tacos
Q. What’s the best way to cook a steak?
A. Get your grill as hot as you can, like 500 degrees. I use a cast-iron skillet because I like my steaks uniformly crispy. Sear them for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes on each side, then turn the heat off and close the lid or move to indirect heat for 3 to 4 minutes.
Related Recipe: Grilled Flank Steak with Red Chimichurri
Q. How can you be sure your meat is done?
A. Nothing beats a thermometer. Insert it into the side of the steak so the sensor can reach the center of the meat. Push it all the way in, then pull it halfway out and that's your spot. Remove the steaks when they hit the target— I think 125 degrees is the perfect temperature for a nice medium-rare—then let them rest.
Next time you're in Denver, check out Western Daughters Butcher Shoppe.