Every man (and even some ladies) is on the epic quest to cook their meat perfectly. Nothing is worse than having people over to your place, talking yourself up all week, and then delivering burned cow. Sure, your guests will choke it down with a half smile, but deep down you know you just served them up shoe leather.
Learning to prepare the perfect steak is a gift any host should master. Culinary skills are well admired and much appreciated when it comes time to eat, and nothing is better than showing off your skills in your own home. Why? Because you are in your wheel house. You are in that kitchen everyday, with those knives and that grill. If you don’t know your way around that place then what have you been doing with your time?
And cooking is a lost art. With fast food and restaurants so plentiful, very few master the art of cooking. There is a method to chopping and cooking everything and the process can be meticulous. Unfortunately that’s lost on us (in America especially). Now we just toss a frozen lasagna in the oven and claim that we made dinner. It’s a shame because the process can really enrich our lives and relax us and rejuvenate us. Not to mention the art work we’re creating during this process.
Enough of that. It’s time to learn how to prepare a steak so juicy, your mother-in-law might even compliment you.
Here is what we will cover in this post, broken into 3 parts:
- Common mistakes to avoid
- Where to get your meat and what steaks to cook
- 2 steak preparing methods that will give you the perfect steak.
Common Mistakes to avoid
1. If you are grilling your steak, stop opening the hood of the grill to ‘check’ on the steak.
You really want your grill to be more like an oven, not a microwave. When you bake, you don’t open the oven door do you? No, because you lose heat. The same thing happens when you grill every time you open your grill hood. Every time you open it you lose 10-30 degrees in temperature. If you can’t keep a steady temperature, it’ll be impossible to predict when your steak is ready to be rotated, flipped or removed from the grill. That means you’ll need to resort to the most amateur of maneuvers:
2. Cutting the steak open to check if it’s done
The only time you cut a steak to check the color is when is right before it’s going in your mouth. Never, under any circumstances, cut open the meat. You must learn the proper ways to understand when it’s done. Cutting the meat open allows the juices to flow freely out of the steak to the floor of the grill. If you’re cutting the steak open, this likely means you have the grill hood open which will make it even more impossible to predict when the meat will be done if it needs to go back on the grill. And if you cut the meat open mid-grill, you’ve just increased your chances of over cooking the meat since it may cook faster now that it’s open.
3. Getting distracted during grilling/cooking
When you begin cooking a steak, you should be committing that time to just cooking. Starting up the grill shouldn’t be an after thought while you are watching Netflix or cleaning the house. If you want to get good you’ve got to set aside time and actually pay attention to your meat. Depending on the steak, 1-2 extra minutes on the grill can take your steak from perfect to well done.
4. Under seasoning your meat
You can tell a steak novice right away when you see them get nervous when applying seasoning. They lightly tap the mixture until a few crumbles trickle out and then start moving those crumbles around with their fingers. Then they say, ‘hmmm, I don’t know, maybe that’s ok guess.’
Yikes. Have some confidence and coat that steak heavily. Some of that is going to fall off during cooking.
5. Ruining good steak with BBQ sauce
Nothing is worse than sitting in a quality steakhouse and your buddy tastes his delicious rib eye and then asks, “do you have any A1?” This is a cardinal sin to end all sins. Never slather good meat with steak sauce or BBQ sauce. Part of being a good steak chef is tasting the different cuts of meat, and savoring their flavor. You can’t fully appreciate the meat with high fructose corn syrup , and GMO soybean and corn oil soaking into it.(Double fail if you put A1 on grass fed beef.)
Take a look at a few A1 sauce labels over the year and see what you’re eating:
Yum, that titanium dioxide sounds delicious. They’ve since cleverly modified their list so that Tomato paste pulls up first on the list. They’ve also gone from using high fructose corn syrup to ‘vinegar corn syrup’, which is the same thing changed slightly so you don’t see “high fructose” on the label. The label still includes soy and 99% of soy production in the US is GMO’d. So be careful slathering this toxic mess onto your steak.
Where to get your meat and what type of steak to cook
One place you shouldn’t get your steak is a regular ol’ supermarket. Safeway or the local super saver market is not a good place to get meat. Aside from not having a great selection of meat, your meat quality is usually poor. Government regulations and classifications are range greatly and you’d be surprised how little big meat producers have to do to be classified as USDA choice or prime etc. I also do not eat grain fed beef for a number of reasons, including Omega 3 content being far higher in Grass fed beef. That’s means shopping at most super markets is a no go. I Suggest you avoid grain fed beef as well so I won’t be recommending that to you here. If you do decide to go with a grain fed steak, get the leanest cut you can, as toxins are stored in the fat.
Here are the two best places to get your meet:
1. A local butcher
A local butcher is extremely knowledgeable about getting quality cuts of meat. Most get their beef from local farmers which is a plus, or they are local farmers themselves. If you have questions about the beef or would want your meet custom cut or wrapped, the butcher is the spot for you. I’ve gone to my butcher and had custom prime rib roasts cut, getting 7 or 8 rib roasts wrapped in bacon! One issue is that you’ll need to seek out a butcher that serves up grass fed beef, which can be somewhat difficult depending on the city/state.
2. The local farm itself
Local, mom and pop farms have fantastic beef selections and can come far cheaper than any marked up grocery store steak. The farmer raised up the cows and knows exactly what they’ve been eating which is great for locating grass fed cows. What you end up with is a better tasting, healthier steak for a fraction of the cost, especially if you buy in bulk.
Now the issue becomes: what type of steak should I grill?
I’m going to suggest 3 of the best meats to grill. You can grill just about any cut, but these are three of the fattiest and tastiest:
– Rib eye steak: A rib eye is part of the prime rib meat that is attached to the ribs. You can keep this selection whole and roast as a prime rib or you can portion them out as steaks. You can also leave the rib attached as a rib steak if you wish, which makes it seem like you are eating brontosaurus on the flinestones, but it’s tasty. The rib eye simply has the bone removed. It is known for having very large pockets of fat, which keeps the steak juicy while cooking.
– New York (Short loin) steak: This steak is cut from the short loin portion of the cow. It is less fatty than the rib eye as well. Some people hate that, and others think that this makes the rib eye perfect. Although I go for the fattiest cuts of meat personally (As long as it’s grass fed beef), I tend to make New York steaks for guests. It has the right balance for those who might be afraid of the fat.
– Porterhouse: A porterhouse includes the cut of meat known as the new york strip, with a few very delicious additions. It includes a bone in a “T” shape that has tasty fat and cartilage along it. You can eat the new york strip with just the bone, and that is called a T-bone steak. A porterhouse includes a nice piece of tenderloin on the other side of the T, known as the filet mignon. So you get a new york steak AND a piece of filet mignon in the same meal. Yum.
2 steak preparing methods that will give you the perfect steak
Preparation: The first order of business is prepping the meat.
Remove from fridge/freezer:
Everything starts with pulling your meat out of the fridge. With steak size cuts, you shouldn’t go right from the fridge to a pan or grill. It needs to rest on the counter so it’s not so cold, otherwise you risk under cooking the steak. For thinner steaks they should rest even longer. For thin cuts, i’d give the meat 30-45 minutes on the counter. For cuts an inch or more, you may need 1-2 hours.
If your meat is frozen, you should allow the steak to thaw over night or until fully thawed. Flash defrosts in the microwave are not a good idea. They don’t taste very good and it’s impossible to defrost the steak in all areas. The microwave also pulls nutrients out of the meat. And don’t use warm water to defrost your meat either. The steaks don’t turn out their best with that method.
Seasoning your meat:
Again, make sure you are lenient with the spices and salts. Steaks naturally have good flavor and good seasonings can bring that out and enhance the taste. So many people are ‘scared’ to over season the meat. While it is possible to do that, you still need to be generous. Remember you can’t season the inside of a steak, so coat the outside well.
Always start with some good sea salt. I prefer himalayan pink sea salt. Depending on how you want your steak flavored, you can add anything from onion powder to garlic powder. I like to finish off the season with crushed black peppercorn.
Cooking method #1: Grill
- For a rib eye or NY strip without bones, set your grill to high.
- Brush your steaks with a little olive oil or coconut oil so they don’t stick
- Once it’s at it’s top temp place the steaks on the grate with the bottom tip facing you.
- After 2-3 minutes, quickly open the lid and rotate the steaks 45 degrees for perfect grill marks.
- flip the steaks over after another 2-3 minutes
- Leave them to cook for 2 minutes then rotate 45 degrees for grill marks
- For medium rare, let it cooks another 1-3 miinutes before removing. (For Medium 2-4 minutes)
- Let you steak rest 5 minutes before eating.
- Slather on some Kerrygold grass fed butter, or if you’re fancy, some Duck fat.
Cooking method #2: Pan seared with an oven finish
- This might be the most underrated way to cook a steak ever.
- Grab a cast iron pan, add a tablespoon of butter and heat on high
- Just before the butter starts to boil, toss on your steaks. sear each side for 2-3 minutes until you get a nice crust from the high and seasoning.
- Have the oven preheated to 425 degrees.
- Place the entire cast iron pan with your steak in the oven for about 5 minutes.
- Remove the cast iron pan using an oven mitt.
- Add some Kerrygold grass-fed butter or some duck fat to the steak and let it melt before enjoying.
Yes, but how will I know its done?
A great rule of thumb is that a medium steak will feel like the center of your palm when pressing down on it with your index finger. For medium rare, aim for just softer than your palm.
There you have it. It’s time to enjoy the most delicious steak you’ve ever had (or at least cooked yourself). Head down to your local farmer and buy some meat in bulk and throw it in the deep freezer. That way when you get a craving from some beef, all you’ll need to do is follow these steps.