Most of what you know about cooking a steak is probably wrong.
In order to cook the perfect steak, there are a few things you are going to want to know and have ready. Cooking or grilling steak seems like a pretty basic thing, but if you don’t do a few things right, then your results are not going to be as good as they could be. So, lets talk about them here…
The Steak Cut Counts
First off, the cut of the meat that you are trying to cook really does matter. Using cheaper or leaner cuts of meat makes it more difficult to get a good, quality tasting steak dinner. Some of the better cuts of meat are:
- Top Loin
- Top Sirloin
Find steaks that are well marbled with white fat. This means finding one with it spread throughout the meat, not just a heavy vain of it running through one side. Thicker is better too. So look for a cut of beef that is about one inch thick or more.
Before You Cook
Always bring the meat up to room temperature and then season it. Apply a generous amount of salt to season it… no more than that… there ya go. Now, let it sit. No, not just 5 minutes! Let it sit salted at room temperature for a min of 30 min and up to an hour. This will help with lean meats, and even help with lesser grade meats.
Time to Fire
Make sure you have a nice and heavy cast iron pan with ridges in the bottom of it. Next, brush the pan with a thin layer of canola oil. Heat up your pan so that the oil starts to smoke (but dont wait too long or the oil will break down). Oh, and make sure your exhaust fan is on high!
Now add that juicy steak.
It is important to flip the steak so that it cooks evenly. Cook one side of the steak for a couple of minutes, then rotate it 90 degrees, now flip and let it cook for another couple of minutes, and now rotate one more time and wait a little longer. This will not only produce an evenly cooked steak, but you will get those nice checker hatched grill lines you see on quality restaurant steaks. Yes, there is a reason they look the way they do!
Now, you need some experience in this area so that you don’t over cook it. One way to avoid overcooking is to sear for 30 sec, rotate and sear for 30 sec, then flip and do it again. After 2 min (total) the steak will have a good sear on it. Now put in in the oven (preheated to 450F) for a couple of minutes (5-10) until it reaches optimal temperature for however well done you like your steak.
Cooking Until it is Done -Rule of “Thumb”
Ok, so there is a rule of thumb when cooking beef. It can be explained this way:
Turn your hand so that your palm is facing you. Now gently touch your thumb and index (fore)finger together. WIth your other hand, touch the meaty muscle at the base of your thumb. The stiffness of that muscle will approximate the stiffness of the steak meat when it is cooked to a ‘rare’ temperature. Just poke the meat with a fork as it might burn your finger!
To test for ‘medium-rare’, simply move your thumb to touch your middle finger. This will make the thumb muscle harder and a similar consistency to a steak that is medium-rare. Progress to the ring finger and the pinky finger for ‘medium’ and ‘well-done’ respectively.
Now here is the caveat… this “rule-of-thumb” can be highly inaccurate depending on the cut of meat, fat content, your own perception of how stiff your meat is (giggle). Therefore the best thing to do… is get a good meat thermometer. It will tell you exactly the temperature of the steak and thus you will never overcook it.
Let it Rest
Now that you have the temperature right, take it off the flames and let it sit. In fact, you might just want to pull it off just a little before it is right. Why? Because it will continue to cook for a few minutes even after it is off the fire.
The fibers in the steak will tighten up when it is so hot while cooking. Give it a few minutes to relax and those fibers will reabsorb all of those tasty juices. If you cut into your steak too soon, that goodness will run all over your cutting board, not not end up in your mouth.
After sufficient resting time, your steak is ready to cut into and entertain your taste buds. Hopefully you have remembered to make a few sides to go with your delicious steak. Perhaps a nice beer or glass of read wine to go with it too?