Of all the dishes in the Chef’s kitchen, a great steak is undoubtedly, the tastiest of achievements. We all love it, but few of us have mastered the art of cooking it at home.
Thankfully, all it takes is some basic knowledge and you will be cooking steaks to rival your favourite steakhouse.
Know your Beef Grades
What are the different grades of beef, and what do they mean? Grades are largely based on the amount of marbling, which refers to the amount of fat in the meat. The more marbling, the more tender, juicy and flavourful the meat is. “Prime,” with its ample marbling, is the highest grade of meat, followed by “choice” and “select.” Prime meat is also younger than choice or select, which means the meat is usually more tender than that from older cattle.
Let It Warm Up
Take the steak out of the fridge. Leave it to rest for about an hour. This should be sufficient time for the cut to reach room temperature. Do not negotiate on this step as it could lead to disappointment. The outside will be charred and the inside will be mostly grey meat with a little nugget of red in the middle.
Consider the Thickness
Two to three centimetres is not just some arbitrary measurement when it comes to hefty cuts like rib eye or New York strip. This thickness ensures that your steak will achieve the perfect char on the outside just as the interior reaches the ideal temperature. For the best even cooked result, consider asking your butcher for the thickness of the steak cuts.
How to cook steak
How to grill steak: Cook the steak, covered, on the cool side of a charcoal grill. When it’s a few degrees short of your preferred doneness, move it to the hot side of the grill to sear on both sides.
How to cook steak in a skillet or pan: Add oil to your skillet or pan, and heat it over high heat until smoking. Add your seasoned steak, and cook it until a crust begins to develop. You can flip your steak without disturbing the sear; in fact, it will help your steak cook evenly. Add some butter after the first four minutes, then continue to cook and flip until the steak has reached your desired doneness.
Doneness ranges from rare (with a red center) to well-done (with no pink in the center). Most experts will recommend not going above medium for most cuts, though it’s important that cuts with lots of fat and marbling are cooked at least past rare. Otherwise the fat in the marbling won’t render at all, and there’s no point in getting a well-marbled steak if it’s not going to break down enough to make your meat nice and juicy. Here are estimated temperatures needed to reach your desired cook.
Rare: Internal temperature of 46 – 48 degrees C before resting
Medium-rare: 48 – 54.5 degrees C
Medium: 60 degrees C
Medium-well: 65.5 degrees C
Well-done: 71 degrees C
Let it rest
Letting your meat rest allows its juices to redistribute, making the steak juicier throughout than if you were to cut right into it while it’s screaming-hot. Let your steaks sit for about 10 minutes before you cut into them.
And there you go, your cut-and-dried guide to buying and cooking steak. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is now to turn out a flavourful, succulent steak like a pro.