How to Cook the Perfect Steak

Men love beef, and any opportunity for steak is the biggest treat for them. Celebrate all the men out there with a delicious, juicy steak. Steak can be arranged in a variety of ways, everything from savory, sweet, spicy, in salads or served aside a heaping portion of velvety mashed potatoes. This piece of meat has a slippery slope, however, as you must cook it perfectly or be cooked yourself. Fear not! I will help teach you the some of the tricks of the trade for making that perfect steak, and the man in your life will never leave your side!

Prime NY Strip steak cooked just shy of medium over a bed of pesto coated green beans! Photo courtesy of my Instagram account :)

First thing's first, you want to make sure the meat is the best quality. For tips on selecting a desirable cut of meat, take a quick peek at my blog about selecting the best cuts here. Try to get a steak thickness of at least 1 inch for the most even cooking.

Now that you have the most succulent slabs of beef in front of you, now it's time to make those flavors really sing!

Hardware: Most people think only the best steaks come from an open grill. Truth be told, half og the great steaks out there are cooked over the stove top! For best stove top searing, use a very heavy frying pan/skillet or a ridged pan (the big, heavy square pans with the grooves on them), and get your pan screaming hot (high heat!). For those who are die-hard grillers, set your propane grill according to your specific manufacturers directions, or for charcoal lovers, follow a few easy steps on setting up your heat with another one of my previous blogs about setting up your grill here.

Meat Preparation: Steaks are simple but delicate, treat them that way. Never put a cold steak on a hot pan, you will only stress the meat and destroy its tenderness. Let the steaks sit until they reach about room temperature before seasoning and cooking. Try to keep your seasonings to a minimum. Too many spices will overpower the natural flavors of the meat. You pay a hihg price for this meat, so you should definitely get the natural flavor! Salt and pepper are the staples. You can add another spice or two, but keep it conservative. Brush the steaks with oil for non stick properties and to also encourange a nice crisp sear. For those using grills and ridged pans, this will also help achieve those beautiful grill marks. To get those cross pattern grill marks, turn the steak 45 degrees halfway during the cooking time PER SIDE of the steak. Personally I prefer lines in one direction, less is more I always say!

Heating Method: You can lubricate your pans/grills with a dab of butter or some olive oil (oil is a much for the grills), but be sure to get your cooking vessel scorching hot before applying the lubrication.

Cooking Times: The rareness of steak is perhaps more disputed than religion and politics! many chefs will tell you, a well done steak is a ruined steak. This bears some truth, as overcooking will make the meat tough, and the juices (and the flavor) will evaporate away. Most of the time, people who prefer well done steaks do so out of fear of undercooked meats. Beef is perhaps one of the only meats that can get away with being undercooked. Here is a simple chart of ideal steak cooking temperatures:

Remember, approximate cooking times vary by cooking vessels. Grilling can take almost twice as long as pan searing. Use your best judgement on time, but pay more attention to the temperature of the meat. You can use a laser thermometer, or a traditional meat thermometer, but only use the latter on the side wall of the meat, NOT the flat tops!

Cooking Tips: Once the steak is on the pan/grill, do NOT move it until it is time to turn. Flip your steak with tongs, not a fork or anything that will puncture the meat. Do NOT poke the steak ever! You will only let those great juices escape.

Resting: After your steak is cooked to your liking, let the meat rest under a foil tent for about 5 minutes. This process allows the juices to settle and evenly distribute in the meat.

I hope this tutorial helps calm your nerves about cooking steak. With a little understanding about the meat and heating options, it's actually very simple. Time to get him (or her) salivating!

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