When you visit the best steakhouse and seafood restaurants, the meals are quite exquisite, to say the least. It’s true that these places have well-trained chefs, top notch equipment, and access to the freshest premium steaks and seafood in the city. But wouldn’t it be nice if you could prepare steak that’s almost as good as what you’d get from these places?
It’s not really all that complicated to cook a steak properly. It’s just that many of us tend to make mistakes that the pros avoid. So, here are some simple tips that can help you improve the state of your steak preparation.
- When you buy a steak, it means you’re planning to cook it that very day. This is to ensure you’re preparing the freshest meat, because the freshness accounts for much of the good taste of the meat.
- Sometimes cooking the meat on the very same day you bought it just isn’t feasible. If that’s the case, at least you should store it properly. This means you should freeze your steak in the coldest part of your refrigerator. It must be “cryovaced”, which is a term the food industry uses for packing the meat in plastic so tightly that no air gets in. When you do decide to cook it, you should defrost the meat in your refrigerator over a span of one or two days.
- You should take out the meat from the fridge about half an hour to an hour before you plan to cook it. Once you take the meat out of the fridge, you should remove it from the plastic package, pat it dry, and then let all the air out. Allow it to come to room temperature naturally. What you really don’t want to do is to put a cold steak on your grill. What you’ll get is a steak that’s overcooked on the outside and undercooked on the inside.
- Now you need to salt it properly. Most people generally don’t use enough salt, though. You should weigh the piece of meat, and then use about ¾ to 1 whole teaspoon of salt for each pound. You should apply the salt to both sides of the meat.
- There’s actually a bit of an argument among experts as to when you should apply the salt. Some say the best results come from applying the salt the night before you cook the steak, while leaving it and then you leave it uncovered in the fridge. Others say that you should salt the steak about 40 minutes before you cook it.
- You can use a grill, though for others the best option is a cast-iron pan. Just make sure the grill or the pan is clean. Either way, you must allow it to get really hot first before you put your steak on. The grill should be about 500 to even 600 degrees F, while the cast iron pan must literally smoke because of the heat.
- Now that the steak is on, stop fussing with it. In the words of The Beatles, Let It Be. If you want grill marks, you can just move it once on the first side. Then you can flip the meat and you don’t mess with it either. You won’t get a good sear on your meat if you keep moving it around too much.
- You should also refrain from just cooking at one heat. If you’re using your grill, there should be a reserved section of the grill, which is heated to a lower temperature. This is the area where you finish cooking the steak after you have your nice sear. With this lower temperature, you’ll get a delicate and even finish for your steak.
If you’re using your pan, then don’t forget to preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. This is where you finish cooking the steak.
- Use a meat thermometer. This will give you exact internal temperatures.
- Once you pull the meat from the grill or oven, it will continue to cook and you need to account for this. That’s why you should remove the meat at 130 to 135 degrees for medium, 125 degrees for medium-rare, and 120 degrees for rare.
- After that, let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before you cut it. If it is a huge chunk of meat or the surrounding temperature is really cold, you may want to tent it with aluminum foil.
- Cut against the grain. For rib eye or bone-in porterhouse, remove the bone first before you slice.
See, it’s not at all difficult! Just follow these tips and you’re well on your way to preparing steak the way the pros do it.