Blaze Damiani  knows steak.  As the owner of Steve’s Sizzling Steaks, ranked one of the best steakhouses in Bergen County, this beloved institution serves over a thousand of the juiciest, most tender steaks each and every week, with their signature steakhouse char and special house sauce.  As the third generation to run this family owned business that was started in 1936, Blaze knows steaks.

The restaurant, celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, all at the same location on Rt. 17 South, still holds reminders within of the days when 17 was a simple dirt road.

Today, Steve’s delights diners with its different varieties and sizes of the finest Certified Angus Beef available including Filet Mignon, New York Strip, Porterhouses, T-Bones, Rib Eyes, and Top Sirloins.

“A great steak starts with high quality beef,” enthuses Damiani. “The way to make this happen is to learn how it’s graded and where it comes from.”

So, how does it all work? It’s important to understand that Angus the breed is not synonymous with the brand, Certified Angus Beef that sells only beef that’s in the top two-thirds on the USDA quality scale.

“There are restaurants and stores that sell products that say  Angus that are not Certified Angus Beef. It’s trickery,” says Damiani. “Only the best of Choice and Prime grades is considered for the Certified Angus Beef label.”

For the best steak for your next barbecue, look for beef with the Certified Angus Beef brand that ensures flavorful, tender and juicy cuts due to the high amounts of marbling in every cut.

Marbling describes how fat is disbursed through the meat – high-quality meat has  threads of marbling running through it. Also look for cuts that have a nice pink color, says Damiani.

When people think about a steak, they think of those off the loin, a tender area of the steer, where muscle movement is minimal.  This includes New York Strip, Rib Eye, and Filet Mignon.

Some steaks are served with the bone, including the Cowboy Steak – a Bone-in Rib-Eye, and the T– Bone steak – which is a bone-in New York Strip. Porterhouse is an interesting cut as well, since two different steaks, the New York Strip and Filet Mignon, are connected by a bone.

Filet mignon is prized for its tenderness with an almost buttery texture and no fat. If a filet mignon is cranberry red and mushy avoid it, as it’s probably from a female – a cow – and not a steer. It will taste awful now matter how seasoned a pro you are – and how well you season the steak.

Have you ever been to a wedding or other catered event and had a choice of chicken, fish or filet mignon? Odds are that filet mignon is an inexpensive cut of cow meat and that’s why it is usually tough and flavorless.

Simple is Best

When preparing steak, simple is best. Salt and pepper are all you need. When grilling at home, Damiani swears by Char Crust Dry-rub seasoning, found at gourmet food stores that adds a delicious crust and flavor to the beef.

Once you have the piece of meat you want to cook, get the grill really, really hot. “Sear both sides for a minute each, and then turn down the heat slightly, and continue to cook to your liking,” says Damiani.  Browned and lightly charred on the outside, juicy and tender inside, that’s an ideal grilled steak.

It’s important to have a meat thermometer on hand. If rare is what you prefer, the center should be 120 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Medium rare is about 130 degrees.

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Nothing defines summertime better than the aroma of a steak sizzling on the grill and nothing pairs better with a steak then a nice glass of red wine.

The king of red wines, Cabernet Sauvignon, is often the first choice for steak and wine pairings.  Its robustness can stand up to most any steak.

Merlot, which in French means The Little Blackbird, an easy drinking red, pairs nicely with a T-Bone and one of Damiani’s favorites is Rodney Strong.

Rib Eyes, T-Bones or Porterhouse steaks pair well with a red Zinfandel and a Damiani go-to is a bottle from Rosenblum Cellars.  This summer, sit back, enjoy, and eat like a king.

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