When it comes to steak, there’s is no higher quality than the marbled ones. This is the most prized feature in steaks that turns into a quality cut. It’s an indicator of how good the beef is and has become one of the most well-known elements of steak evaluation.
So, what is this marbling and why is it so important?
Marbling is a term that’s used to refer to the white flecks of intramuscular fat found in meat that creates a marble like pattern. This has a positive impact on the meat’s juiciness, tenderness, texture and flavor as it melts into the steak when cooking. (Also, it’s one of this Guilty Carnivore‘s favorite!)
The fat/marbling makes the meat softer easier to chew because it contains less muscle fiber and collagen per unit volume hence reducing the amount of chewing required. The food breaks down faster and there’s a much greater release of flavor.
However, neither does the layer of fat along the outside considered marbling nor does the big blog of fat in the middle of a ribeye considered as marbling. This fat is more of a thin white streak and fleck of fats found inside the muscle.
Ribeye is the juiciest most marbled steak. Its cut from the rib section and is sold as boneless and bone-in.
More than often not ribeye steaks are laced with ribbons of marbling giving them their famous rich beefy taste. This is why its best cooked up to medium-rare/medium so all the fat is rendered down and its original flavor is savored.
Choosing the perfect marbled ribeye
Choosing a perfect ribeye isn’t simply looking for a big, red and fatty one.
There are all kinds of marbling which differ in shapes and sizes. There’s the marbling that looks like a spider web which is typically found in the high-end Kobe beef steak or the heavy and thick marbling.
Remember, highly marbled ribeye doesn’t always equate to being of a higher quality. When it comes to ribeye, the lighter the fleck of marbling, the higher the quality.
There are 3 types of marbling in all steaks;
- Fine – This is the highest quality among all types of marbling. They’re thin and small flecks of intramuscular fat in the lean muscles. Ribeye with a high frequency of fine marbling is the best you can find.
- medium – This has a thicker flake than the fine marbling.
- ❖ course. – It has the biggest and heaviest marbling
So, when you’re choosing ribeye, you’ll want to look for the one that has fine marbling. These are expensive but are the best marbling you can get.
The simplest way to spot a fine marbled ribeye is too look for the USDA shield. Those steaks with the best marbling receive and are labeled with USDA prime certification. Be careful of low-quality ribeye marbling that has the ‘prime’ label to cover up its quality. Make sure it has the USDA label.
You should also be aware of artificial marbling which looks even better than the natural marbled steaks.
If you don’t know what artificial marbling is don’t worry. So, this is basically when farmers inject the low-cut steaks with fat to enhance it. This can be very deceiving.
Thankfully, the USDA requires for those steaks to be labelled making it easy for buyers to recognize it.
If you can’t find the USDA Prime ribeye, look for USDA choice which is nearly as well marbled as the USDA prime.
How can you get fine Marbling?
There are a lot of important aspect of cattle rearing that you have to consider to get high quality marbling.
For example, the cattle should gain weight properly. Some other aspects are; the age of the animal which shouldn’t be too old or young, feeding, breeding and even the weather. That’s why many farmers follow a branded breeding program because there’s consistency of quality.