Steaking your claim — meat terminology for dummies

Lucy Nieboer

Ever taken a date to a fancy shmancy restaurant? Your grand gesture to show how much you like them/how much you're willing to spend on them is nice and all, but what happens when the waiter asks you how you'd like your steak and you say,"umm….cooked?" Show's over, Romeo. No self-respecting foodie would ever get down with anyone who thinks Kobe is just a guy who plays for the Lakers. To protect you from further embarrassment take a look at our quick CliffNotes version of everything there is to know about ordering a steak. 

Rare – The least done of all the options. The middle of your steak should be slightly warm and totes red. 

Medium Rare – Playing fast and loose with both medium AND rare, in this option you get the firmer outside of steak that has been cooked longer, but still get the slick, salty tang of a middle that isn't quite cooked through. It should be slightly red in the middle, with a wide circle of pink. 

Medium – This steak should be completely pink in the middle with no traces of red. 

Medium Well – Unless you want your date to think you're boring and lame, don't get your dinner prepared past medium well. Part of enjoying such a rich (and EXPENSIVE) piece of meat is oh you know, getting to taste the meat's flavor. The more you cook it, the more you lose that distinct "steakiness."

Well – Food-industry-rumor-mill has it that if you order your beef this way, it is abandoned on the grill and charred to the max. Choosing this style of steak can be seen as an insult to the chef because anyone can overcook a piece of meat until it is a rubbery piece of brown leather, but it takes a skilled professional to keep things tender and juicy up in Steakland. 

Filet Mignon – Typically the most expensive cut of the cow, Filet Mignon refers to the part of the tenderloin furthest in the middle of the cow. Because this part of muscle does little work when the cow is alive, it is the most tender. It is a very lean cut, so it lacks flavor that fattier pieces might have.

T-Bone a.k.a.. Porterhouse – In this huge slab of beef you get the best of both worlds. The t-shaped bone in the middle has a strip steak on one side, and a small tenderloin on the other. 

New York Strip – A juicy strip of fat on one side keeps this steak moist and flavorful. If fattiness isn't your flavor game you can easily avoid it and just saw off the delicious lean meat on the other side. 

Sirloin – Probably your best bet price wise, sirloin tends to be less tender than other cuts, but if prepared properly it can be just as delicious as a more expensive choice. 

Rib-eye – The fattiest cut, but a favorite to many, the rib-eye is juicy and has great flavor.