Your Ultimate Guide to Cooking the Perfect Steak
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Whether you are cooking a meal for a special occasion or the usual weeknight dinner, for meat lovers, a mouthwatering steak always tops the list. Afterall, who doesn’t want a tender and juicy meal that perfectly satisfies your palate?
If you happen to be an amateur cook, worry not, all you have to do is equip yourself with the right ingredients, kitchenware and follow the tips I'm about to share with you and no one will ever think you are a beginner in the kitchen!
But first, do note that how you prepare your steak highly depends on your preference. And when it comes to how rare/well done you want it cooked, you can enlist the help of instant read meat thermometers. I believe they are essential to help ensure the meat is cooked as how you want it to be.
Selecting the Steak
You might be wondering why there are different cuts of beef being offered in restaurants. While they are all steaks, the way you slice, prepare and cook them differ. Nevertheless, the cut determines the way you will prepare the steak. Though are many varieties of beef cuts, the most popular are T-bone, New York Strip, Ribeye, and Tenderloin.
As the name implies, this cut of beef has a T-shape and comes from a cross-section of the unfilleted loin. This part of the cow offers a tender, juicy and buttery flavor when cooked. For the cut to be considered a T-bone, it should be at least 0.5’ in width while Porterhouse cuts (also known as the king of T-bones) should be at least 1.25’ thick. It is often cooked using a two-level fire when grilled.
New York Strip
This boneless slab of meat usually originating from the short loin behind the ribs comes in many different names. Some of its most famous titles are top loin or top sirloin, Kansas City strip, Manhattan, and contre-filet. It usually comes with fats on one edge. This cut has a texture of fine-grain and doesn’t store vast reserves of fats. It offers a beefy flavor but perhaps, not as good as other cuts.
Image credit: Atlassteak.com
The most popular and most expensive of all the steak cuts, it is also referred to as Châteaubriand and filet mignon. This boneless meat comes from the sirloin and short sirloin under the ribs. It is the leanest and most tender of steaks. When cooked, it gives off a decadent buttery and mild flavor which most meat lovers can hardly resist.
The Ribeye may either come boneless or bone-in and comes from the upper ribcage. This cut is known to be flavorful. It is very juicy and beefy too. Other names for this cut are Scotch fillet, Delmonico, Entrecôte, and Spencer.
Picking the Right Pan
Some might think the kind of pan they use is not so important, but if you want the perfect steak, then you need to use a good pan. Grilling is possible with steak, but in many cases, it is better to fry. When frying beef or any other type of steak meat, it is strongly advised to choose a non-stick pan that is heavy-duty. I would also recommend for you to select a pan or skillet which that will not be easily burned and likely to ruin the flavors of the meat.
Determining Which Oil to Use
There are many different types of cooking oil to choose from in the market. Determining which oils to use often depends on what food you are looking to cook. When it comes to steaks, experts recommend groundnut oil. This type of oil offers a mild flavor and is resistant to high temperatures. It could withstand high temperatures without burning which is the goal in preparing the perfect steak.
Note that there are two methods of adding oil to steak. The first, you can directly splash the oil in the pan and wait for it to simmer in the heated oil while the other method, allows you to oil the steak itself then placing it directly to a dry and already heated pan.
Dressing or flavoring the steak primarily depends on your preference. Some want to enjoy the steak as it is (in addition to salt and pepper) whereas some prefer to add different flavorings, sauces, and/or marinade to their meat before cooking.
How would you like your steak?
As you cook your meat, you can easily determine when it is ready to be served through three different ways: the color, the temperature, and/or its level of dryness.
Note that the color of the meat will change from red to pinkish to brown (depending on how long you cook it for). Secondly, you may also check how cooked the meat is by using instant-read meat thermometers. Last but not least, you can also check how ready it is through its dryness – blue and rare are when the meat is still at its juiciest while medium and well-done are the driest.
Image credit: bodnant-welshfood.co.uk
Also referred to as ‘extra-rare’ the blue steak got its name from the color of the meat when it’s slightly cooked. It has a purplish tint along with a dominant reddish color. At this stage, the meat is spongy and offers no resistance at all. You will know that it ready when the temperature is at around 115 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
This type of steak is dark red with a lighter reddish color at its center, and it is also soft and spongy, however, it begins to develop a slight resistance. There should be some meat juice visible which perfectly complement its smooth texture and perfecting its presentation. The temperature at this stage should be around 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
You’d be interested to know that most people prefer their steak to be medium-rare. At this stage, the meat will have a pinkish color with some pink juice flowing throughout. It is slightly springy and looks firmer, but it is still a little soft and spongy. The temperature should show around 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once the meat reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit, it is considered medium. As it almost reaches the fully cooked stage (well done), you may only be able to see very little amount of meat juice. It is firm and springy, and you can easily distinguish it through its pale pink color.
A thoroughly or fully cooked steak, though it is not entirely dry, it may appear to be. The color is brownish with a slight touch of pink. It is a little springy, but when it is cooked well, it should still also be soft and spongy. A steak is well done when it reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
Though the definition of a perfect steak will vary from person to person, regardless of your preference, I hope the tips I’ve shared above will prove to be useful in preparing a steak that is perfect for you. Good luck!
Steaks are prominent in American cuisine. So if you’re looking to sharpen your grilling and cooking steak skills, why not sign yourself up for a culinary vacation in The US?