8 Amazing Facts about Steak

I take a vitamin every day; it's called a steak.

You love your steak, but do you know your steak? Can you tell your Rib-eye from your Onglet? These 8 amazing steak facts will keep the conversation sizzling next time you visit the steak house.

You would probably fail the Big Texan Steak Ranch Challenge

48,000 brave, steak-loving diners have taken the Big Texan Steak Ranch Challenge since 1965. But only 9522[1. The Big Texan: The 72oz HALL OF FAME] of those people to date have managed to reach their goal. That means that four out of every five challengers will fail. Their task? To eat steak. Lots of steak.


That’s easy, I hear you cry, count me in! But be warned. This isn’t an average steak. To take the challenge, you must go to the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo and announce yourself as a challenger. There you will be seated at a table, where viewers all around the world will be able to watch you via live webcam as you attempt this gut-busting test.

To win, you will need to eat a Big Texan Steak meal in under 60 minutes. The meal includes a gargantuan 72oz (that’s 4.5lbs) steak, side salad, bread roll, butter, baked potato and shrimp cocktail. The rules state that you are allowed to cut and try one bite of steak before the challenge begins. If you manage to eat the whole meal in less than an hour, you get the meal for free.

Think you’re up to it? Head on over and give it a try.

Steak-Pop Anyone?

The word ‘steak’ is believed to have come from an old Norse word steik[2. Merriam-Webster: Merriam-Webster], which means ‘meat on a stick.’ This was probably how most meats were cooked years ago, but it might be a good seller if we tried it out today. Steak-Pops. Nom.

Your Hand Knows How to Cook the Perfect Steak

Did you know that you need nothing but your hand to know when your steak is cooked to perfection?

Try this trick next time you cook a steak. Touch the tips of your thumb and index fingers together gently. Now feel the fleshy area at the base of your thumb with the other hand. This is what a steak cooked rare feels like. Next move your thumb across to touch the tip of your middle finger. The fleshy area at the base of your thumb now feels just like your medium steak should when it’s done. Finally, to see what a well-done steak should feel like, touch your thumb and ring finger together. Easy, see?

Steak by Numbers

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended that the average daily meat consumption per person should be no more than 5.7oz per day. The average American male actually throws caution to the wind and chows down on 6.9oz of meat per day, while the American women lag behind, with a daily meat habit of just 4.4oz.

Beef and steak products are a significant export product for the US, with 771,196 metric tons heading from American shores to Japan, Mexico, Canada and Hong Kong each year, with a value of $2.617 billion[3. U.S. Meat Export Federation: Beef Continues Rebound].

33.2 million cattle each year end up as steaks. In 1921 the average cow provided about 541lbs of meat, but the super-cows of 2009 provide a massive 784lbs of meat each.

Steak Out

In 2010, singer Lady Gaga caused shocked gasps all around the world by wearing a dress made of raw flank steak to the MTV Video Music Awards ceremony.

The asymmetrical, cowl-neck dress was reddish in color (obviously) and was teamed with matching steak boots, purse, and hat. Lady Gaga accessorized the meaty statement outfit with chunky diamond jewelry and pale blue hair.

The designer of the dress, Fernandez, said that the beauty of the outfit was partly in its shelf-life. ‘I like the idea of it changing and evolving into something else,’ he said, before explaining that the dress would later be archived after being made into a type of jerky.

Wagyu Wanna Eat

The most sought after and expensive steak in the world is the Wagyu steak. Wagyu cattle are bred so that their meat contains a very high proportion of fatty veining, which makes the heavily marbled steaks look almost white before they are cooked.

Wagyu cattle were originally found only in Japan, but steak farmers looking for financial success have begun to breed the cattle all over the world. Once upon a time, your wagyu steak would have been named after its place of origin in Japan – Matsusaka beef, Mishima beef, and Yonezawa beef, for example. Nowadays you can try American Style Kobe beef, from cattle bred from a cross between the Kobe and Angus breeds.

Scotland has grand plan to become Europe’s Wagyu center, with Blackford Farms becoming the UK’s biggest producer of full-breed Wagyu. Blackford Farms say that their aim is to achieve a marbling score of 9+, the highest possible score.

Know Your Cuts

There are at least ten different cuts of steak, and some have flavor, some have tenderness – you can’t have your cake and eat it where steak is concerned. While you may know your rib-eye from your T-bone, would you be able to pick the rarer cuts out from the crowd?

The rarest cut is probably the flavorsome feather blade steak, so named because it comes from the shoulder area of the cow. Although this cut isn’t particularly expensive, it is quite rare, due to the average cow having only two shoulders.

The onglet comes from the middle of the cow, near the diaphragm, if you really want to know. It is a big sausage shaped piece of dark-red steak, and what it lacks in tenderness, it makes up for in flavor. Slice it thinly to get the best results.

Bow Down to Sir Loin

king james i

Legend has it that the Sirloin steak got its name in England way back in 1617[4. BBC NEWS: Tower remembers ‘Sir Loin’ legend]

One night, King James I stopped off at the very grand Hoghton Tower, in Lancashire, on his way back from Scotland to London. The King was served steak as part of the evening meal, and the cook no doubt began to worry when the monarch demanded that some pages bring the steak to him.

As the worried servants went down on their knees in front of the King and offered up the steak, the monarch demanded that his short sword is brought to him. Instead of murdering the anxious pages in a meat-headed rage, King James actually knighted the meat, which he thought was delicious, announcing ‘Arise, Sir Loin!’.

Some historians disagree as to where the name really came from, but one thing is certain. King James’ host, Richard de Hoghton spent so much on the lavish meal that he spent a year in debtor’s gaol paying off the bill.

Ali Emerson

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