Everyone knows that the prime grilling season is upon us; along with this knowledge are everyone's theories, secrets and techniques of grilling your way. But, let me address one particular meat that is universally cherished and not necessarily needing to be grilled.
The steak. Who doesn't love a juicy, well-cooked (though not well-done) steak? When you’ve got a quality piece of meat, you don’t have to screw it up with complicated cooking/grilling techniques and stupid sauces. That’s precisely why we love it. It’s simplicity at its best, just good and old fashioned carnivore eatin’. Why do so many people find cooking a steak so difficult? From a dismal gray exterior to a toughened overly-cooked inside; there are so many ways you can go wrong.
But fear not fellow grillers, chefs and amateur cooks! I'm here to walk you through the art of cooking the perfect steak, whether it’s a porterhouse, a hanger, sirloin, ribeye, T-bone or filet. Are you ready to cook some seriously awesome beef? This is your time to shine. Here are my nine simple rules to cooking the perfect steak!
1. Go to the market
A steak is not a steak is not a steak—meaning a butcher can really help you navigate those tricky waters of what cuts to try and which ones are perfect for what exactly you're looking for. Shopping for meat at a grocery store will leave you with the usual confusion, but a butcher can introduce you to newer, less popular cuts that boast huge flavor, like hanger and flatiron steaks. DON'T be afraid to ask your butcher questions about the steak you choose—that’s exactly what they’re there for!
2. Out of the fridge, into the cast iron pan
Whether you’re cooking a thin strip steak or a thick porterhouse, you have to plan ahead, that means taking it out well in advance bringing it to room temperature. So how long is “well in advance”? For the thinner cuts, a half-hour on the counter will do. If your steak is over an inch thick, plan on at least one hour maybe even two. Why does this matter? If you take a cold steak right from the fridge and go straight to the pan, you’re risking an undercooked steak with an ugly gray exterior which will not be delicious and certainly unappealing.
3. A sprinkle will do
When it comes to seasoning, this is not the time to be shy. This helps in the formation of a gorgeous crust, it's also necessary for big, bold flavor. Remember you can’t season the inside of the steak; you have to aggressively season the outside. This is not however, an invite to go crazy with spice rubs and other commercialized seasonings. When you have a good steak, you’re going to want to taste the steak. I’m often asked what the best way to season a steak is; my only truthful answer is to use kosher salt and cracked black pepper with wild abandon: You should be able to actually see the salt and pepper.
4. Don't fear smoke
Don’t be afraid of a ripping hot (heavy-bottomed, cast iron) pan and allow for a little smoke. To make sure your fat doesn’t burn, sear in an oil with a high smoke point such as vegetable oil. DO NOT use EVOO or extra virgin olive oil; it can't handle the high heat you'll need. Now you can always finish with a pat or two of butter in the last few minutes to baste the steak in. Now, don’t go crazy on it. For a thicker steak, you’re going to want to turn down the heat a little. If you don’t, you’ll risk a gorgeous crust and end up with a raw interior.
5. You can cook by touch
Most chefs can tell when a steak is done just by feeling it. And that's great! For the rest of you, it's a little trickier. It takes a ton of practice. I'm a big time fan of the thermometer. It allows you to know for sure the proper temp. On that note, what happens if the steak’s got a gorgeous crust, but the temperature is only 90 degrees? First, don’t worry about it. Second, take it off the stovetop and pop it in an oven set to 400 degrees it’ll finish cooking without getting too dark. It's a great thing when you can learn to ball up your fist and tell by touch the different ways a streak is done!
6. It’s not gonna get cold!
You’ve heard it before on the food network and I'm going to say it again. Don’t slice into the steak right away. It absolutely NEEDS time to rest, and let the juices redistribute. For thinner cuts, you'll need 5 to 10 minutes, for larger, thicker steaks, 10 to 15 minutes should do. Repeat after me "Your steak will not get cold." I'm sure you've saw a puddle of blood red juices on plates before, this is caused from not letting the meat rest.
7. Don't hack it up
You’ve come this far, used patience, so now don’t saw at your steak like a lumberjack with a dull blade. A sharp steak knife will insure this doesn't happen. Make sure you cut the steak perpendicular to the steak’s natural grain. It’ll slice easier, look prettier, and taste better. NEVER cut your steak into little pieces all at once. Your steak will get cold obviously before all those pieces get eaten. Just cut your bites as you eat them.
8. Now you're like the pros
I get it: There’s a lot of anxiety about cooking the perfect steak. And when you spend a good amount of cash on a piece of meat, you want to treat it right. But a juicy, awesome steak isn’t just something for restaurant chefs; it’s something worth learning and having in your cooking skills. Take a deep breath. Relax. It’s going to be ok! It’s also, I'm sure, going to be very juicy and delicious
9. NEVER EVER EVER EVER and I mean NEVER PUT A1 on your steak a steak cooked right NEVER needs any type of sauce. Plus it’s an insult to the cook!! Enough said!
PERFECTLY COOKED STEAK
Turn broiler on hi, move over rack 6"-8" below the broiler pour about 2T vegetable oil in cast iron skillet.
Brush steak with oil, generously season both sides of steaks with kosher salt and cracked black pepper Turn burner on hi, heat skillet until lightly smoking.
Sear steak about 1 minute on first side, 30 seconds on the other side.
Place skillet in oven, broil for 2 more minutes, carefully flip steak broiling another 2 minutes.
Remove from oven, place tin foil over it letting it rest.
At this point your steak will be med-rare, the perfect temp!