Fat that creates white spots and streaks in lean meat. Evenly spread, prominent marbling is a good thing.


To cook meat on a very hot surface so that it browns quickly and creates a “sear” or “crust.”


USDA evaluation of beef’s tenderness, juiciness and flavor (quality grades) and quantity of usable lean meat on the carcass (yield grades).


USDA quality grade indicating beef that comes from young and well-fed beef cattle. It has rich marbling and is the most tender, juicy and flavorful beef.


USDA quality grade indicating beef with less marbling than that of Prime.


USDA quality grade indicating beef that is usually leaner than Prime or Choice. It may be less juicy and flavorful.


Direction of muscle fibers in meat. One should cut against the grain when slicing steak (see below).

“Cut against the grain”

Slicing meat in the direction opposite to the grain. This cuts across the muscle fibers, allowing for more tender meat.

Dry-aged beef

Beef that is kept in a controlled, refrigerated space for as long as six weeks, allowing for water evaporation to take place and therefore, concentrating the flavor.


Beef taken from cattle that are raised on certified organic pastures and receive certified organic feed. The cows must be able to access open pasture and may not be given antibiotics or hormones.


Beef taken from cows that graze on pasture without switching to grains and supplements. Contains more healthful fats and less fat in general.


Beef taken from cows that begin by grazing on pasture but switch to a blend of grains, corn, soy and other supplements, as well as hormones and antibiotics. Feedlot cows gain weight more quickly than grass-fed cows.

Rib Eye

Steak that comes from the beef rib. It is very marbled and flavorful.

Filet Mignon

Very tender meat that is taken from the beef tenderloin.

Strip steak

Steak portion taken from the strip loin, or non-tenderloin, part of the cow’s short loin.


Steak that contains a T-shaped bone. Meat on the larger side of the bone comes from the strip loin. Meat on the smaller side of the bone comes from the tenderloin.