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How to Cook a Proper Steak

A modern day renaissance man who enjoys etiquette, gourmet cooking, brilliant music, and fine arts.

Cooking a Steak

My friends, I enjoy a well-prepared steak as much as anyone, but it does irk me when I see a wonderful piece of beef butchered. Pun intended. In this article, I aim to show you the different cuts, tools, and my favorite technique for preparing a damn fine steak dinner. So get your favorite beverage, lean back, and take in the knowledge.

Screw chocolate. A good steak is where it’s at.

— A.D Posey

An example of a great looking steak.

An example of a great looking steak.

The Tools

Having good cooking equipment doesn't make a good cook, one needs to know how to use them properly as well.

Take knives for instance. If you have cheap knives, maintenance and frustration goes up. Spending a few extra dollars on a decent knife set is well worth the investment, as it makes your job that much easier. They will also last you a lot longer. If you can't afford a set, at least invest in a good Santuko, a paring knife, and a bread knife.

Pan Handling

I'm not going to go over every pot and pan you need to succeed in the kitchen, though I’ll mention a few indispensable pieces.

A proper frying pan makes a world of difference when you cook. Keep in mind that a pan needs some TLC in order to stay good. A pan with a heavy bottom is preferred, as it disperses heat more evenly.

  • Traditional or non-stick? This generally comes down to what you use it for. Non-stick pans are ideal for sticky, low temperature foods like eggs. Keep in mind that non-stick pans are not a fan of high heat.
  • Stainless steel pans. Many great chefs adore steel pans, and with good reason. They are versatile and hardy. They are also great for cooking meats, stir-fries, and reductions.
  • Cast-iron. The best choice for cooking steak, as it transfers heat very well, and can withstand very high temperatures. It is also great for low temp cooking as it disperses heat efficiently. To maintain a cast-iron pan, let it cool, then scrub with a sponge and salt, then cover the coking surface with a thin layer of cooking oil to prevent rusting.
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Which Cut?

  • Rib-eye is a popular cut because they pack a lot of flavor. They are usually 2-2.5 cm cuts which make them fine pan-frying steaks. They tend to have more marbling (fat) than other cuts.
  • Sirloin is the most well-known cut, and for good reason. They're lean, flavorful and tender. They are usually 2.5 cm thick and have a rim of fat along the one edge. The are great for quick cooking.
  • Fillets are round and lean cut at 4 cm thickness. They are the most expensive cut due to the guaranteed tenderness. In order to make it a bit more affordable, consider picking up a Chateaubriand if you are cooking for two.
A Sirloin Steak in its Natural Habitat

A Sirloin Steak in its Natural Habitat

Common Mistakes

  1. If you remove the steaks from the refrigerator 10 minutes before your intended cooking time, your steaks will be great. They will cook more evenly, you will reduce toughness, and it will brown nicely.
  2. A steak is at its happiest when it gets to sizzle as it hits the pan. This will ensure nice coloring and proper cooking. If you're cooking a thick steak, or heaven forbid, like your steak well done, lower the heat to prevent overcooking the exerior.
  3. The steak is to be turned once, turning it more often will make it tougher. You could always give it a lift to check to see if it has browned nicely, but not more than once or twice.

The Process

First of all, remember to turn your fan on, cooking steak causes a lot of smoke to develop. Add your oil or butter to the cold pan, then heat it up to a high temperature. The trick is to get a nice sear quickly, so not to dry out or over-cook the meat. Cooking time is depending on the thickness and preference. For example, a 2.5 cm cut will achieve a nice medium-rare after a minute on each side. Now for the little extra that will help your steak. Pop it in a pre-heated oven (375f/180c) for another minute or two. Now comes the tricky part. Let it rest for another five minutes or so in order to let the muscle fibres relax.

The seasonings and side-dishes are entirely up to you. Consider what you like, do you prefer a dry steak? Some sort of sauce? At the least, throw on some salt and pepper, and for goodness sake, use a good oil or butter for your frying! Canola or olive are both great cooking oils.

If your steak is tough after this, you're either using a rubbish grade, or the wrong type of cut. Marinading steaks for instance, inexpensive, but used in marinading. Not frying as-is.

Pair with a red wine of your preference, and enjoy.

Until next time, my friends.

A Great way to Serve Steak

A Great way to Serve Steak

Steak Preferences

© 2018 Lars Melby

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