Steak Tips: Guide For The Perfect Steak
Steak cooks in minutes, but a few simple techniques can reliably tip the scale toward perfection.
First, choose wisely. The quality of the meat is the foundation for a good steak.
Pull the steak out of the fridge an hour before cooking to allow the steak to come up to room temperature, which will cut your cook time and allow for better browning. Season liberally with coarse grain salt and pepper at least 40 minutes before cooking. This allows the salt to permeate the meat tenderizing it and drawing out some of the excess moisture. Before the steak is set over heat you want the steak to be dry to the touch, this allows for the best sear.
Pick your cooking method
Over Fire –You have several options to cook your steak over fire – wood, charcoal briquettes, or lump charcoal. Wood will impart a nuance of smoky flavor, but take the most time to prepare for cooking. Briquettes on the other hand are inexpensive and make quick work of getting the fire going. Lump charcoal such as Binchotan (white charcoal) burns very hot and clean and lasts long – it’s my preferred charcoal. But each of these options has its strengths and each can produce a delicious steak. Be sure your heat source is established – the coal bed is prepared to for cooking before beginning.
Over the stovetop – There is no shame in cooking steak in a pan. In fact much of the time a stovetop can be the most convenient option, especially in winter. If cooking over a stovetop use a heavy pan, preferably cast iron. A heavier weight pan will hold heat more evenly and as a result will cook your steak more evenly. You want the pan to be ripping hot, just at the point of smoking, by the time you are ready to place the steak in it. Turn your hood fan on to high (it’s going to get smoky).
Use a thermometer. There is no other way to ensure you have reached your desired temperature and doneness. The thermometer will be very useful for accuracy in all of your meat cookery. At the least it will reduce stress and guesswork.
You also have a choice to flip only once or flip often. The key to caramelization is lack of moisture and direct heat. There are two philosophies. One is to flip only once. The other is to flip every 30 seconds, which will brown the steak and cut the cook time by a third, but requires a powerful heat source. Flipping once is the best option on a less powerful stove or grill.
Finally, Pull your steak off the heat at 5 – 6 degrees less than your desired temperature – the steak will continue to cook and will come up in temperature. Before cutting into the meat, let it rest for 10 – 15 minutes. This will allow the juices to redistribute within the meat. To serve slice the steak against (perpendicular to) the grain. We suggest sharing each steak and slicing ahead of serving. This will allow you to eat better steak more often for less expense.
Rare 120°F – 125° F
Medium Rare 130°F – 140°F
Medium 140°F – 150°F
Medium Well 150°F – 160°F