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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Importance of Marbling in Steak

In recent years, dietary fat has gained a very bad reputation.  Health conscious folks limit their fat intake to the point it can actually be damaging to their health.  I honestly do not believe in ultra low-fat diets.  A certain amount of fat is necessary for the proper brain development in infants and children.  It is needed for the formation of the myelin sheath, the outer white insulating sheet surrounding nerve fibres. Think of myelin as the plastic coating on electrical wires.  If there is reduced myelin, signals cannot travel normally from the brain through the nerve cells.  My graduate thesis involved de-myelination in the proband that lead to a Wernkie's-Korsakoff presentation in an 18 month old child.  Mild loss of myelin can result in reduced brain function, nerve  problems and confusion.  The worst part is, once the myelin is destroyed, no amount of fat is going to replace it.  So it is very, very important to not restrict dietary fat to the point of causing a deficiency.  The second factor in restricting dietary fat comes from the fact that fat makes fat.  In reality, fat comes from starch that was converted from sugars (carbohydrates).  If the body cannot use the sugars ingested, it converts them to starch which is then converted to fat, likely part of our evolutionary make-up to provide nourishment from within when food was sparse.

New York Strip steak marbling
We have made a tradition of the first meal at our vacation home being grilled steak.  We always choose steaks that are well marbled.  Marbled is just a fancy word for nice fat distribution.  It is apparent by the white throughout the steak as well as a layer of fat around the steak.

Fat add flavour, flavour, flavour!  At the same time it makes the meat tender and juicy.  While some trim the excess fat from steaks, we do not trim if grilling.  Excess fat can cause flare-ups on the grill but flare-ups can be easily controlled.  The outer fat drips down into the grill adding to the smoke flavour.  Fat is easily cut off before eating the steak.  The inner fat (marbling) reduces when grilling while keeping the meat moist and juicy.

grilled New York strip steak
A good steak is all about flavour.   It should be tender and juicy, never over cooked but rather just to perfection according to desired doneness.  Be aware that doneness does change over time.  I used to always like my steaks well done but now prefer medium rare.  If you are cooking steaks for others, always ask how they would like their steaks cooked.  We often add caramelized onions or sautéed mushrooms. Both enhance the flavour of grilled steak without overpowering it the way barbeque sauces, steak sauces and seasonings can.  Both of us agree, when you want steak it is that flavour that should shine.  Marbling brings out the flavour of beef.  So, don't shun a bit of fat on any beef cut especially if grilling or broiling.  Choose nicely marbled steaks then trim after grilling for the best flavour.



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